Explicit Objections

The New South Wales Department of Education is cajoling, and possibly commanding, teachers to engage in “explicit teaching”. What does that mean? According to the Department,

Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover that information themselves.

Yeah, what dinosaurs.

Of course the Department is backing its push with lots of evidence of the benefits of explicit teaching and of course none of this is necessary. The benefits of explicit teaching, more simply referred to as “teaching”, are obvious. Who could object?

The “experts”. Of course.

It will come as no surprise that NSW’s push has the inquiry guys in a huff, and there have been a number of media reports on the huffiness. Last week, SMH‘s Christopher Harris attempted an even-handed report:

For [older teachers’] younger colleagues, explicit teaching – where students are given clear, step-by-step instructions – represents the industrial-era model of schooling their university lecturers taught them to fear.

Explicit teaching typically involves telling students sitting in rows the steps required to perform a skill or task at the start of the lesson before allowing them to practise it. In contrast, inquiry learning means confronting students with a problem and asking them to try and work out the answers for themselves, similar to how a scientist might. Advocates say inquiry-based learning fosters more in-depth understanding and deep thinking. Explicit teaching adherents believe inquiry learning is ineffective, wastes time and unnecessarily confuses students.

Not a bad summary to begin, but then Harris goes a little off the rails:

While schools in NSW over the past two decades have adopted inquiry-based learning, conservative voices in the education sector have been increasingly agitating for the use of explicit teaching.

Being conservative means wanting to conserve things. Modern teaching, however, is the product of the decades of the inquiry orthodoxy that Harris just noted and the very last thing we “conservatives” want is to conserve this. We explicit-direct-just-teach-some-bloody-maths guys are not conservatives, we’re reactionaries.*

And then,

Like the decades-long reading wars or the maths wars that have gripped US educators, the debate between explicit and inquiry learning has morphed into a kind of culture war in Australia, where academics’ views are pitted against right-wing think tanks.

Yep, it’s academics versus right-wing think tanks. Harris tries to be even-handed; he’s just not very good at it.

To be fair, Harris’s report is more balanced than his absurd “right wing” cracks suggest. He gives the explicit guys a good go, with the brain spiel and so on, and then gives the inquiry “academics” a turn:

Western Sydney University senior lecturer Dr Lynde Tan acknowledged a variety of skills could be taught and improved through explicit teaching, but research found the method was laden with inherent risks and required precautions.

“These risks include: students’ over-reliance on the teacher as the knowledge provider inhibits self-directed learning, which is a key 21st-century skill in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world. The rigidity inherent in explicit teaching prioritises recall of facts and rote learning over critical thinking,”

Heaven forbid the person with the knowledge provide it to those without. Gets in the way of learning those precious 21st-century skills.

Then there’s WSU Associate Professor Jorge Knijnik:

… Knijnik said the edict undermined teachers’ professional autonomy. He said explicit teaching, which was centred around the teacher who does most of the talking, could complement more contemporary approaches to maximise learning.

No, explicit teaching is centred around teachers doing most of the teaching. Kids still do plenty of the talking.

Knijnik is followed by MANSW President, Katherine Cartwright:

“It is not free-for-all when you see inquiry-based learning. It is a joy to see kids understand how something works and why it works.”

If any of this is true. And which we’ll believe when we see it.

“Death by PowerPoint seems to be returning. Now all these teachers are making PowerPoints for every single lesson. You might get immediate results on tests, but it is not giving them deep knowledge and skills in how to reason.”

The hallmark of traditional, back to basics teaching, of course, is the heavy use of powerpoints.

Harris’s long report continues, with some Teachers Federation person says some some silly Teachers Federation things. Then Greg Ashman gives a very good performance, supporting the principle of the Department’s plan while querying the difficulty and likelihood of the cultural change. Harris closes in a similar manner, questioning how the Department will monitor (much less enforce) what happens in the classroom.

Less even-handed is the report by Bret Henebery in The Educator, titled,

Experts voice concerns over Explicit Teaching push in NSW schools

Henebery gives most of the space to his “experts”, beginning with our new friend, Knijnik:

“The current ‘back to basics’ debates in education, of which explicit instruction is one example, try to enforce one method as better or superior to others.”

Um, perhaps because one method is better than others? Of course, Knijnik and his colleagues can disagree that explicit teaching is “better or superior”, but to suggest that an education department shouldn’t be attempting to evaluate teaching practices and then responding accordingly is a very peculiar stance. It is also pretty rich of Knijnik to whine about NSW’s new “enforcement” when ACARA and an army of education academics have spent years taking what they regard as a better method and shoving it down teachers’ and trainee teachers’ throats.

“This mantra narrows the conversation around teaching methods; it undermines teachers’ professional expertise and society’s view of education in schools overall.”

If Knijnik really wants to determine the source of all this undermining he might wish to cast his net a little wider.

Next up is UTS’s Associate Professor Jane Hunter, who is “an expert in curriculum, digital learning and pre-service and in-service teacher education”, and is “also wary”:

[Hunter] points out that decades of education research in classrooms in low SES schools in NSW conducted by internationally recognised scholars and experts in pedagogy, teaching, learning, and assessment is not cited or spoken about in this recent Departmental push.

Possibly this research is not cited because, international recognition notwithstanding, the research is useless.

“Where and what is the independent research evidence? The flavour now is to refer to advice or ‘studies’ from ‘think tanks’ or ‘new bureaus’ that do not have longevity in research in schools.”

We’re not a big fan of think tanks but think tanks might be the new “flavour” because the old flavour is so obviously distasteful.

The third and final article is by the EducationHQ “News Team”, and is titled,

‘Inherent risks’: academics push back against NSW ed dept’s explicit instruction drive. 

Belying its title, EHQ‘s report is quite even-handed, with Ashman and his partner in brain, John Sweller, being given a good go. As is Edith Cowan’s Lorraine Hammond, who appears to have been fighting the inquiry stuff for a while. On the other side, the appearance again of Knijnik and Lynda Tan suggests that there’s a travelling carnival aspect to all of this. Knijnik and Tan are quoted similarly (and on occasion identically) as in the previous articles, so we won’t dwell on them. The new critic is Deakin University’s Associate Professor Jill Brown, who has a lot to say:

Brown says an excessive focus on explicit instruction would have side effects and could result in students not meeting curriculum expectations.

Brown says that as if it would be a bad thing.

The academic … claims that explicit instruction will not allow students to meet the expectations of the general capabilities, cross-curriculum priorities, nor of specific disciplines, and especially in mathematics.

“Equally, the proficiencies and processes that underpin the maths curriculum cannot be learned via explicit instruction.”

It’s a fair bet that, at least for the teaching of mathematics, whatever cannot be learned by explicit instruction is not worth learning, and possibly isn’t coherent enough a goal to determine whether or not anybody has ever learned it.

Brown also has specific comments on mathematics teaching:

In the maths classroom, Brown puts forward the example of learning to multiply numbers, which she says requires students to explore many strategies to determine which method is the most efficient.

The process of learning multiplication “requires” no such thing and it is made much the worse for it. This is permitting a few useful but secondary tricks, semi-learned in the worst possible manner, to torpedo the proper memorisation of the tables and the mastering of the traditional algorithm.

“Teachers can model these methods explicitly, but learning ultimately takes place when students explore them for themselves.”

Having students “explore” methods for themselves is just fractionally more likely to be productive than giving typewriters to monkeys.

Brown ends by throwing an astonishing accusation at explicit teaching:

“Finally, I would suggest the main reason most people dislike and abandon further learning in mathematics is that it is typically taught heavily through explicit instruction, despite the curriculum aims.”

Recall what Harris noted about the past two decades? Brown and Tan and Hunter and Knijnik and their inquiry-loving mates have been in control for decades, but somehow it’s we explicit-basics guys to blame for kids hating maths. Which raises the subsequent question, how many decades would these people have to be in power before they would consider themselves responsible for the state of things?

In the end it may not matter much, with these media reports mostly sound and fury, signifying carnival. The likelihood, as Ashman suggests, is that the NSW DoE push will probably not result in any massive cultural change, and that teachers indoctrinated with inquiry nonsense will in the main continue pretty much as they have done, cosy in their professional autonomy. Nonetheless, the NSW Department’s shove is a decent shove and it cannot be a bad thing, the strongest evidence of which is how many academics’ noses it has put out of joint.

*) As is my bulldozing style, I’m probably running roughshod over important subtleties, and Greg Ashman and his colleagues may not be so agreeable to being labelled as reactionaries. Greg writes about the meaning of “explicit instruction” here.


UPDATE (30/04/24)

Yesterday, Jill Brown fleshed out (fatted out?) her argument in an AARE post. I know little of AARE, but they appear to be the go-to outlet for edutwaddle, of which Brown’s post is a fine example. Luckily, there is no need to respond to Brown’s latest nonsense, since Greg Ashman has written an excellent post, doing the painful work for us. Greg’s post is definitely worth reading, particularly for his hilarious (wish it were a) parody of an inquiry class. I’ll just make a couple quick remarks.

Greg’s post is titled Obvious claims about explicit teaching, riffing off of our introduction, where I claimed that the NSW DoE needn’t have bothered providing the evidence for the benefits of explicit teaching since it is so obvious. I’m fine and pleased with Greg’s title and the angle he takes in his post, and in any case I was joking to a decent extent. Of course, politically, the DoE was required to provide such evidence. There is also no question that such evidence, of the type that is Greg and his colleagues’ bread and butter, provides powerful ammo. But there is also clearly a sense in which such evidence is beside the point, that the inquiring in Australia is so cultish, so blind to the screamingly obvious, that evidence and reason are utterly beside the point. Members of the cult will not be swayed.

Sounding like the 70s lefty that maybe I still am, what matters is power, and in particular the power to disarm these people. That will only come from sufficiently many sufficiently pissed off parents. You can either see that Year 7 kids typically have no proper sense of what a fraction is and how it works or you do not, and you either regard this general lack of sense as a massive failing of the education system or you do not. I don’t know that it needs to go deeper than that, or that going deeper than that will help.

Secondly, just one quick remark on Brown’s post. In pushing her inquiry line, Brown of course focuses on “skills to solve real-life problems” and of course she brings up PISA, the idiotic test that Westerners introduced in a failed attempt to stop the Asian countries winning. Brown then notes,

“One of the highest ranked countries in PISA has mathematical problem solving at the centre of their curriculum framework. In Singapore teachers are highly valued”

That’s it. That’s the quote. Because, as Greg has noted, the AARE editors appear to have been asleep at the wheel. So, we don’t know exactly what Brown had intended to say about Singapore. But, following in the plodding footsteps of ACARA, it’s a fair bet that it was going to be nonsense. Anybody who imagines that the mud-puddle wallowing offered in Australia bears any resemblance to what is taught in Singapore or how it is taught is utterly deluded. The only proper purpose in raising Singapore is to demonstrate how poor Australia is in comparison, which we very much doubt was Brown’s intention.

39 Replies to “Explicit Objections”

  1. In adjudicating these sorts of debates, it useful to compare how one might teach other things, such as how to play a musical instrument, play a particular sport, or acquire some skill such as carpentry or sewing. This involves “explicit teaching” but a good teacher will also give the learner a go, analyze the result and explain why a particular method is desirable. i fear that some proponents of explicit teaching want pure rote, but the nice things about mathematics is that the students can see why something works. My experience is that students differ. Some simply want to learn how to do something and feel proud when they have mastered it; for such students proficiency can lead to understanding, particularly with a judicious choice of exercises. Other students want to see why something works and then they can have a sense of control.

    1. Ed,
      Where do you see music instruction that is not explicit. All the piano and guitar novice material I’ve seen dictates which figure goes where, how fast and how hard.
      One famous violin teaching method is the Suzuki method which is literally rote learning.

      Also are your fears of what explicit teaching looks like based on a particular proponents description. Everything I’ve seen is far less rote than music instruction.

    2. Thanks, Ed. At the moment we’re about a thousand miles from Rotesville. So, I’d suggest we all head towards Rotesville, and if and when we’ve found we made it, we can always backtrack a few miles.

      As a more substantive response to your comment, I have a few thoughts.

      1) I had also thought of comparing maths to other disciplines, particularly music. In an earlier draft of my post I included a Lynda Tan quote from the EducationHQ report:

      “The highly structured scope and sequence [of explicit learning] restrict teacher and student creativity.”

      My response was to agree, that if only Beethoven hadn’t been constrained by sonata form and the like, if he hadn’t been restricted to compose in designated scales, he could have been so much more creative.

      Of course this doesn’t go against your point, but it goes against the implementation of your point as it is almost always done right now. We can have kids be “creative”, but if we want it to progress beyond finger painting, we had better teach the kids some solid technique. Skills are not in opposition to creativity: they are the tools of creativity.

      2) I’m not sure I know what “rote” means. The term seems to be used to refer to both to the establishment of mechanic knowledge and skills and, more narrowly and Boogie Manly, as the robotic establishment of those skills. For example, the proper automatic memorisation of the multiplication tables, about which I have never seen the inquiry guys give a stuff, is often characterised as a “rote” form of learning. But the value of learning the tables is a separate question from, for instance, whether chanting is a good way to learn the tables. (It is.) It also seems to me that the inquiry guys get lots of rhetorical milage by conflating the two meanings, and this is at least implicitly being done in the above media reports.

      3) Whether it’s “rote learning” or “establishment of mechanical skills”, I agree with Stan, I don’t see anybody of the direct-explicit guys advocating the kind of thoughtless approach that the inquiry guys are claiming. Indeed, I wish it were more thoughtless more of the time. Automaticity is a very powerful weapon, as any musician who has mastered their scales will tell you.

      4) Beyond (3), I don’t believe that the over-roting of mathematics teaching has ever been an issue, or at least since roughly the time of Dickens. My early years of primary school, in the mid 60s, had plenty of Cuisenaire rods. Whatever one might think of these rods, and I think they’re great for those early years, they are hardly an indicator of roting kids to death.

      I have also previously posted a Victorian curriculum guide for early-mid primary mathematics from 1964. If anyone can explain to me how this guide isn’t clearer, cleaner, more meaningful and plain better than anything Australian authorities are currently offering, I’d love to hear it.

  2. I remember reading a newspaper publication written by a British education professor called Alan Smithers claiming that these enquiry based methods were being used in medical schools. He was very critical of such methods. I also remember that the title was: “Medical Training is Heading for Disaster”! I have a copy of it somewhere if anyone wishes to read it. I could not find it right now in the internet.

    In primary school teacher education it is the latest fashion in my country. I had to face its results!


  3. As far as I can tell, all the mathematics teachers at my school use explicit teaching in their lessons.

    I recall doing a course in Polish language when I was in the US. It was given by a professor from Poland who was flown out for this very purpose. He came into the first lesson and said “These are the last words to be spoken in English in this course”. And off we went.

    1. Yes, because by secondary school it is practically impossible to entertain the inquiry nonsense. (Except that ACARA attempted to sneak in inquiry nonsense as content.) This is really a fight about what should happen in primary schools.

      1. I think it’s worse than you imagine in high school. It’s true that most people teach most things explicitly. But 1. They don’t necessarily do it well, and 2. Teachers put enormous pressure on themselves thinking they *should* be doing a bunch of inquiry type things.

        So the upshot is that time and effort that ought to be spent improving their explicit teaching instead goes into self-sabotage of trying to weave “student-oriented” work in at any opportunity. And this applies at the level of faculty PL, school improvement priorities, curriculum pushes etc. Nobody anywhere has any interest in improving the core task of teachers – explaining things to kids.

        1. Marty – while I completely agree that Primary Schools are the real battleground here, I know you have met more than one Secondary School teacher (even a head of department) that thought this was the best practice.

          Arguing against such a move puts you in the bad books with the higher-ups as well, more often than not.

          But we keep arguing with the higher-ups because if we don’t we know things will only get more difficult when these students hit VCE.

        2. Huh. It’s not often I get criticised for being over-positive.

          RF and Alex, you both know much better than me. But, in response:

          There is no question that secondary mathematics teaching, at least in Victoria, is generally awful. You have an awful curriculum and awful textbooks and calculator poison and, in the main, teachers who understand mathematics way, way too little, compounded by having no sense of how little they understand.

          But, I think at least some of the reasons for the awfulness are fundamentally different from those for primary school. In primary school, the aimless inquiring is front and centre, the default. There are no textbooks, good or bad, to guide the teaching, to protect the class from the idiotic add-ons someone grabbed from MathsWhizFun.com. There are very few primary teachers who have seen anything mathswise beyond the school shit they were themselves served, and the God Knows What It Is lunacy from the education faculties. There are very very few primary schools with either the brains or the balls to say “Fuck ACARA. We’re going to teach the kids arithmetic.” The proper teaching of fundamental skills, and then the proper practising of these skills, the expectation of mastery, not only does not exist, it is not even attempted.

          But, as Alex says, the default in secondary school is explicit teaching. Yes, it is very bad explicit teaching, but the badness is fundamentally different. Obviously secondary schools are flailing, trying at least to some extent to make things less bad. Are they then making it worse by inquirising the teaching? Possibly, but I’m skeptical they’re doing it much, even if they wish to.

          I have no doubt that principals and middle-management hacks are pushing the inquiry line. These people are much closer to the education academics, in spirit and in Old Girls Network alliances, making them actively stupid and actively dangerous. To some extent that also may be true with heads of maths, but I would imagine and have observed less so. A head might be drinking some Kool Aid, and they might be eyeing the heights of middle management for themselves, but when a beleaguered teacher cries “We don’t have time for this shit!”, they are more likely to listen, usually out of collegiality but in any case out of self interest.

          Again, you and Alex know better than me. I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in secondary schools, and I talk to lots of teachers, but I’ve done very little regular-class teaching. Have I seen and heard about some inquiry nonsense there? Yes. But honestly, not that much. Whatever crap the teachers learned during their teaching degrees, and whatever crap the school authorities try to impose, my sense is the general reaction from the secondary teachers is “We don’t have time for this shit!”

          1. I was not being critical and I agree that, based on the stories I hear and the data I have access to, the situation is FAR WORSE in primary schools.

            I just don’t want anyone thinking for a moment that secondary schools will fix the problem.

            Indeed, a lot of secondary teachers ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS STUFF.

            And the best examples of what we really need are retiring at an alarming rate.

            1. RF, I’m more than happy for you to be critical. I don’t get challenged enough. But in any case, I think we broadly agree. And of course secondary schools cannot fix the problem of primary schools, even with intelligence and the best of intentions.

            2. Yeah broadly in agreement here. Primary seems like a mess, and as you note there is almost zero counterweight of people who actually know and care about Maths.

              My main point is that in HS the inquiry spectre tends to stand in the way of more fruitful paths not taken.

              Eg. Had a meeting today at work where we talked about some of the behaviour stuff rolling out in SA. General agreement was that it would be good for helping students pay attention, but at the cost of making group work more difficult. This was presented as some sort of a Sophie’s choice…

              1. That’s hilarious! I wish I had the talent to draw the cartoon of Sophie’s choice in this instance.

                I do take your point, that, to the extent secondary schools try to fix things, this is easily derailed by inquiry twaddle.

  4. When I did my Master of Teaching at UNE, they did tell me about both explicit instruction and inquiry learning, but it felt to me like the explicit instruction was included because it had to be, not because they wanted it there.
    The fear of the inquiry group is also what I fear: teaching without understanding. So teaching the butterfly method of adding fractions without students understanding that 1/2 +2/3 makes 3/? makes the same amount of sense as adding 2 tens and 3 units and getting 5 of something.
    In my limited experience, using inquiry learning to teach a concept does work for some students, but after doing the inquiry, the teacher has to also explicitly teach the concept to the rest of the students, who at this point feel stupid that they didn’t get it when the others did and are therefore harder to teach it to.

    1. Thanks, MW, but your/inquirers’ fear seems like a non sequitur to me.

      One could teach the butterfly method either with or without understanding and, in either case, either explicitly or inquiringly. The charge that explicit teaching is somehow counter to or naturally hostile to teaching with understanding is simply nonsense. In particular on the butterfly method, I can imagine some teachers stupid enough to teach this thoroughly idiotic method, but I cannot imagine any of the vocal advocates for explicit teaching championing its use.

  5. I think that choose your own addition/multiplication etc adventure is deeply confusing for many in the primary classroom, and actually harmful in some cases where a student has worked extremely hard to gain mastery over one reliable method to then be told they need to demonstrate understanding in 4 different ways, because somehow this demonstrates better understanding.

    1. Thanks, Megan. I think this is a very important point.

      When you have second order tricks as add-ons, 46 x 5 = 23 x 10 and the like, I think it’s fine and good. The kid can still solidly learn the standard algorithm (and straight mental computation for smaller-number problems), while learning to be on the lookout for easy shortcuts. And, the shortcuts can reinforce the algebraic laws.

      However when a kid is shown a number of different algorithms, which will be broadly similar in internal workings but will appear to be very different, OR if a kid is constantly being asked to give four different reasons for an answer, three of which are typically strained and silly, it does nothing but undermine the kid’s sense of solid foundations and universal methods. They end up only doubting their understanding, and themselves, effectively knowing much, much less.

      I think there’s a real sense in which the inquiry guys have a larger goal for the kids. They are seeking for the kids to have a genuinely deep understanding of mathematics. The exploration and multi-methoding is attempting to have the kids see the same content from many angles, and to establish a deep understanding by encouraging the many perspectives. The only problem is that the program is doomed to failure. Maths is simply too hard, and the kids, being kids, are simply too stupid.

      A man’s gotta know his kids’ limitations.

  6. I found the reference in a publication I wrote in my country some years ago. The conclusions I made are translated below:

    “Comparisons between the education field and the medical field are hated by some educators around the world. I frequently use them in the classroom to convince my Pedagogy [Primary School Teacher Education undergraduate Course] student teachers to become aware of the need to actively participate in classes and be evaluated by tests that I apply during the two subjects that I teach on Mathematics Teaching Methods every semester. Educator Alan Smithers used an analogy that I really like in these moments: “Raise your hand, all those who would submit to the scalpel of a self-taught and self-evaluated surgeon.” [Smithers, A. (2002). Medical Training is Heading for Disaster, The independent, 19 September].
    Finally, I would like to mention something even more alarming published in the same article by Smithers. This author warns that ideas that did not work in education are being transferred to medical courses: “teaching based on problems”. The contents of basic subjects, such as Anatomy, would be reduced in favor of learning in which students seek and capture information (content) as it becomes necessary to treat patients. He mentions complaints from one of the members of the Royal Academy of Surgeons of England about the weakening of medical courses. In Brazil, there are already medical courses based on this teaching method, and publications that advocate “alternatives that encourage students’ self-education and allow them to make more constructive use of class time” [Passos, R. M. and Hermes-Lima, M. (2004). Master, Leave the Students Alone!, Science Today, Vol. 35, no. 206].”

    1. A friend of mine dislocated is shoulder last year and went to a hospital in Sydney (I won’t name it) and the first doctor he saw started to google how to pop a dislocated shoulder back in. Needless to say, this did not inspire confidence in my friend and he refused treatment. It was not until the third doctor came to see him that someone knew what they were doing (that is, they didn’t google what to do).

  7. I am not a reactionary; I am a reactionary ultra-orthodox. PowerPoint is an evil thing that leads to death by bullet points.
    The only way to teach is to stand in front of your class by the blackboard (whiteboard) with chalk (whiteboard marker) in hand while explaining, demonstrating, and discussing. Mandatory homework helps students to use what they learned in class.
    Learning multiplication tables is compulsory, as well as learning and understanding mathematical formulae. This is my reactionary, ultra-orthodox manifesto.

  8. All these comments help me understand what a mess maths education is in. Particularly since real mathematicians are no longer in charge of curriculum (as Marty has noted in the past).

    One issue I find is that some other maths teachers don’t really think mathematically. It’s not in their gut – they haven’t had the deep training in maths that teaches you to appreciate its beauty and to have an instinctive feel for what’s correct mathematically. They don’t even realise that maths has a way of thinking (like any discipline).

    The irony is that the people who really get it are most older people who got the traditional education (and can add/multiply/work out change at the cash register), migrants and people very highly skilled at maths! And of course students (especially those who struggle) who actually really want times tables…..

    1. Real mathematicians have not been in charge for quite a long time in Victoria (and probably other states). One only has to sample examination papers from 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970 (you get the point) to see when and where the decline started (it is earlier than many people think, but the VCE revolution of the 1990s accelerated things quite a bit, only to be trumped by the CAS revolution 15 years or so later).

      1. Yes. From which one concludes that mathematicians never got it right on school education, and that they should never be permitted the opportunity again.

  9. To quote something I heard the other day by someone who works in the NSW DET: “We explicitly teach inquiry”. It just gets defined how people want.

        1. My God. What is that shit? Is this new? Or have you guys been nuts all along? How can anybody get to Extension 2 by wading through that crap?

          I only took a quick glance but that is some of the stupidest, butt-ugliest maths ed stuff I’ve ever seen. How does NSW’s new call to teach (explicitly) gel with them promoting this garbage?

          1. These resources have been building for the last couple of years. Though it seems the seeds of such thinking have been around for decades. To what extent these resources are used in classes I’m not sure. If you go on NSW teacher facebook pages, you’ll see that there are plenty of people who are nuts or just plain clueless.

            Not sure with what’s going on with the disconnect. It seems the leaders just say stuff to generate sound bites and the underlings in the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the DET just plow on with their ideas.

              1. It seems to be a mixed bag, I think. Some realise they’re bad, others lap them up and others are indifferent.

                1. I was abroad. I am now back at home and I found the publication about medical schools by Alan Smithers. I made a photo of the newspaper page and sent to the e-mail “Bad Mathematics”. Did you receive it? If not, send me a private email. I will try to send it again, here, as an attachment.

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