RatS 27: Taibbi – Maintain Your Brain

We haven’t had a RatS for a long time. I think they were and are worthwhile, but there’s just been too much work with the day job of educational crusading to post much about the more general cultural decline. This one, however, by Matt Taibbi, struck a very strong chord. Taibbi is one of the very few consistently sane journalists on politics and the media. He is getting busier and angrier, and better, visibly exasperated at the increasing government and corporate control over social media and free speech. Taibbi has a particular loathing for censorious assholes in the legacy media, particularly in particular for the sanctimonious “misinformation” “experts”: see here and here for two recent examples. The following is a public post by Taibbi, with no particular target, simply a Mad As Hell scream.

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NSW’s Requisite Sense and Nonsense

This one is old, and older, but it should still be done. First off, a couple weeks ago NESA issued a media release, notifying people that mathematics would continue to be optional in NSW senior high school. This was the new Labor government’s killing off of a 2019 Gladys plan to make senior mathematics compulsory. Why the reversal? Because, as we wrote at the time, the original plan was really, really stupid. Continue reading “NSW’s Requisite Sense and Nonsense”

Estimating Stephen Gniel

Stephen Gniel, of course, was CEO of VCAA while the Deloitte debacle played out, and then during the subsequent 2023 VCE exams battle. Gniel then began his previously arranged secondment, to be Acting CEO of ACARA (also permitting Gniel, it seems, to duck appearing before the Bennett inquiry). It is in the latter role that Gniel appeared (along with Sharon Foster, ACARA’s Executive Director, Curriculum, and Russell Dwyer, ACARA’s Executive Director, Assessment and Reporting) at Senate Estimates on 15 February, in front of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee. I don’t think Gniel had much fun. Continue reading “Estimating Stephen Gniel”

Boaler Gets Called for Chucking

A few days ago, Stanford University received an anonymous complaint against Jo Boaler, the Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Education at Stanford. The complaint, which was first reported in the Washington Free Beacon, consists of a 100 page document, a compilation of Boaler’s alleged transgressions. The story was then picked up by Stephanie Lee at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The inspiration for the complaint, and a good deal of its substance, appears to be Brian Conrad‘s critique of citations in the California Mathematic Framework (and see also this), in which Boaler and her work played a significant role. The “Executive Summary” of the complaint summarises it,

This complaint alleges that Dr. Jo Boaler has engaged in reckless disregard for accuracy through citation misrepresentation, asks that Stanford investigate, and if the allegations are confirmed, take appropriate disciplinary action.

What to make of it all? To be honest, I don’t much care.

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Hannah Gadsby’s Friends Are Not Funny

Just short of a year ago, Barry Humphries died, and then the Melbourne International Comedy Festival bollocksed Humphries’ tribute. Of course. All the MICF leadership had to do was to toss some gladioli into a theatre foyer and probably most people would have let it pass, but the MICF were too up themselves, too proud of their prior sanctimonious cancelling of Humphries, to exhibit a proper moment of grace upon his passing. Immediately pilloried for their awfulness, MICF then promised that they would “start to plan a fitting tribute” to Humphries. This “fitting tribute”, it would appear, is a year of silence. Continue reading “Hannah Gadsby’s Friends Are Not Funny”

A Secondary School From the 1970s

Obviously, “school behaviour” is being very much discussed these days, and I recently posted on the absurdity of the idea that a “behaviour curriculum” might be a meaningful way to address this. Pondering while writing the post, and then pondering the many very interesting comments in response, I’ve thought some about my own school education in the 60 and 70s, and the culture of my schools at the time. My primary school education, at the local Macleod State School, was in the main pretty traditional, which was both bad and, mostly, good. There were no straps although in the early years there were still “rulers” and some other needlessly authoritarian impulses, but mostly it was sensible and meaningful, disciplined in the good sense, and human; I have written a little about Macleod State, here and here and here. My secondary education, however, was different in important ways. By the 70s, the cultural revolution of the time, which I touched upon in this post, had begun to significantly affect schools. So here, for whatever it is worth, is some of my ponderings of that time of change (all with the caveat that these are fifty year old memories). It is simply reminiscing. There may be a moral in there but, if there is, I’m not sure what it is. Continue reading “A Secondary School From the 1970s”

The New Report on the VCE Exams is Out

The report of the VCE exam review conducted by Dr. John Bennett has been handed down. The media release is below and the Executive Summary of the report is here (and in Word). Presumably, there is no intention to release the full report. (23/03/24. And my presumption was wrong. See the update below.) I haven’t yet had a chance to look at anything, and I may update this post later.

UPDATE (20/02/24)

VCAA’s acting CEO, Kylie White, gave a lengthy ABC interview this afternoon. There are also reports in the AgeHerald Sun and EducationHQ.

I’ll leave off writing any detailed thoughts about the report until the dust and my brain have somewhat settled. In brief, while there are significant nits to pick the report is very good on some important recommendations. In particular: employ competent mathematicians; and report in a timely manner. These are not magic wands, but they would be big and important steps.

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The Obtuseness of a “Behaviour Curriculum”

I’m way, way late to this one and classroom behaviour is not my department. Anyone willing to announce to their class “I used to be an axe murderer and if you don’t learn how to solve linear equations then I’m going to kill you” should probably not be pronouncing too loudly on this stuff. But the behaviour thing got up my nose recently, and what’s a blog for if not to get things out of your nose? Continue reading “The Obtuseness of a “Behaviour Curriculum””

The Hidden NAPLAN Swamp

Is there an education reporter in Australia who is aware of how bad the NAPLAN Numeracy tests are? Is there a reporter who cares that my claim, although true beyond any reasonable doubt, cannot even be properly investigated, cannot readily be proven to be right or wrong? I have seen zero evidence of any reporter ever bothering to look or to ask. Even if a reporter were to try there is now close to zero chance they will find anything. ACARA can now write whatever nonsense questions they wish and it is practically impossible to call them on it. Continue reading “The Hidden NAPLAN Swamp”