The Lofty View From The Age’s Schools Summit

Yesterday, The Age held their annual Schools Summit. Of course we wouldn’t shell out a shekel to attend, presuming that not a lot could be learned, but reports on the Summit are here, here, here and here. And, what was learned? Clearly, not a lot.

Our main interest was in the idiotic Maths Wars discussion and the talk by ACARA’s CEO, David de Carvalho, and they appeared to be pretty nothing. But there were a couple notable things in the nothingness.

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ACARA is More Dangerous than Boaler

Yeah, it’s Godzilla versus Mothra. Either is sufficiently destructive to lay waste to a city. But, at the moment, Jo Mind-Set-In-Stone Boaler is less likely than ACARA to cause lasting damage. Really.

About a year ago, the California Department of Education (CDE) came out with its draft mathematics curriculum. The work of the inevitable maths ed types, including Slow Boaler, and seemingly without a mathematician within cooee, the draft was, of course, very bad and consequently it was very hammered. The draft was rewritten and, just recently, rewritten again. It is still very bad. It will presumably remain so. Continue reading “ACARA is More Dangerous than Boaler”

David de Carvalho Wrecks the Joint

Recently, we decided to look a little at the writings of ACARA’s CEO, David de Carvalho. There’s not a lot to see. De Carvalho’s writings exhibit the calm smugness typical of a Catholic intellectual lightweight, and without any proper consideration of how the ideas expounded might play out in practice. There is some discussion of the nature of the Australian Curriculum (and NAPLAN), but not a lot. There is little acknowledgment of criticism and essentially no attempt at rebuttal. Nonetheless, there are some excerpts worth noting and worth hammering.
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David de Carvalho Inquires into the Australian Curriculum

One of the notable aspects of the Curriculum farce has been ACARA’s silence in the face of contempt. There has been no serious attempt, by ACARA or anyone, to publicly rebut the many pointed and strong criticisms of their draft curriculum. Evidently, ACARA has seen no need to pretend that “public consultation” has any meaningful role, seemingly comfortable in the knowledge pretence that ACARA is following some formal process, and critics be damned. ACARA seemingly believes they can mule their way into having their awful draft approved. They are probably correct. Continue reading “David de Carvalho Inquires into the Australian Curriculum”

Greg Ashman Tells ACARA to Get Stuffed

Well, not in those terms. Greg Ashman is always polite and professional, to a fault. But, clearly, ACARA has pissed Greg off.

As regular readers will be aware, ACARA’s Top Secret Draft Curriculum was not approved by the recent education ministers meeting, and consequently ACARA was effectively ordered by Acting Minister Robert to go back, to consult with “experts” and to get it right. For sundry reasons, this is an impossible and absurd assignment, but everyone in charge is hell-bent on pretending otherwise. And so, ACARA apparently went away to form a Top Secret Committee to engage in a Top Secret Consultation Process on their Top Secret Draft Curriculum. Continue reading “Greg Ashman Tells ACARA to Get Stuffed”

Keith Devlin Makes an Idiot of Himself


We had considered writing this post a week ago, then decided not to bother. Then, after Keith Devlin came up in conversation, we rereconsidered.

We’ve never much liked Devlin. He has written some things we like, including his excellent book on Fibonacci, but Devlin has always seemed loud and self-promoting, and not nearly as smart as he imagines himself to be. Devlin also happily assisted the American government to make their drones work better. One of those occasions when Professor Smarts might have thought a little harder.* Still, we have mostly just tried to ignore The Math Guy.** Continue reading “Keith Devlin Makes an Idiot of Himself”

The Australian Academy of Science’s Secret Backflip

Last April, the Australian Academy of Science made fools of themselves, by signing onto the idiotic and shadowy joint statement, Why Maths Must Change. Compounding the foolishness, it turned out that AAS was signed onto this nonsense statement by “educational/administrative people” and without the consultation of the AAS fellows. Then, in July, AAS came out with a tepid statement, walking away from the joint statement and walking towards nowhere. Finally, almost a year after this absurdity began, AAS has taken a sort of a stand. In a locked room. With the lights out.

Last month, AAS posted “a statement regarding proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum for Mathematics” on their NCMS website. The statement begins with three paragraphs of motherhood and then, in the fourth and final paragraph, it says a little something:

The mathematical sciences decadal plan considers that “all young Australians need a strong foundational education in mathematics and statistics”. The Academy recognises the critical importance of foundational knowledge and skills, and strongly supports their inclusion and emphasis in the national mathematics curriculum. Additionally, it is important that students engage in reasoning and problem-solving. It is through these activities that students can meaningfully consolidate, apply and extend their understanding, knowledge and skills and gain an appreciation of the elegance and the power of mathematics. [emphasis added]

It’s not great, but at least there is a clear message about “foundational knowledge and skills”. There is also an implication of proper pedagogical order, that the reasoning and problem-solving come later, although AAS didn’t have quite enough sense to make this explicit.

One also has to ask, how did it take well nigh a year to come up with such an it’ll-have-to-do statement? And, while we’re asking, why is the statement on the NCMS site only, and not on the main AAS site? And, last question: why make such a statement and decline to tell anyone you’ve made it?

So, sure, the statement is welcome. But seriously, what a pack of clowns.

RatS 18: Taibbi – Putin the Apostate

Putin is a psychopath and, once upon a time, he was our psychopath.

Matt Taibbi, who is regularly painted as a Putin-apologist because he didn’t buy the Russiagate garbage, was in Russia as a young, gonzo reporter when Putin’s rise began. Taibbi has written a great, depressing history of this time. It is paywalled, but anyone who is gagging on Western sanctimony and hypocrisy should read it. It begins, Continue reading “RatS 18: Taibbi – Putin the Apostate”