VCAA Wants to Know What You Think

That title may be a trifle strong. But at least VCAA is giving you the option of saying what you think.

VCAA has just launched a questionnaire on the mathematics Study Design, specifically on whether there is a need for review (hat tip, John.) The link is here, and the questionnaire can also be found down the stairs at the bottom of each subject webpage, in the fine print. Behind the door with the sign, “Beware of the leopard”. Continue reading “VCAA Wants to Know What You Think”

WitCH 140: Honey, Don’t

We’re snowed with grading essays for the Evil Mathologer, and we’re trying very hard to get to a few larger posts. But for now, a quick WitCH. We don’t pay much attention to Foundation Mathematics, which is supposed to be the Easier Than Easy Maths Subject. Commenter Ron, however, emailed us about the following question on VCAA’s sample exam, posted last year. (See also this post.)

You have 90 seconds, and your time starts now.

Continue reading “WitCH 140: Honey, Don’t”

Boaler, Conrad and the War of the Tattletales

Stanford mathematician Brian Conrad is a prominent critic of the California Mathematics Framework. During the drafting phase, Conrad worked insanely hard documenting the flaws in the CMF and in particular documenting the many examples of citation misrepresentation. Conrad’s work subsequently appeared to form the basis of an anonymous complaint made to Stanford University regarding CMF author and Stanford’s Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Education, Jo Boaler (Stanford Daily). Conrad has denied being involved in the complaint and it is highly implausible that he was: why would he transform a carefully crafted public critique about the CMF into a rambling and anonymous complaint about Boaler? Nonetheless, Stanford has now also received a complaint about Conrad, which seemingly includes the accusation that Conrad was involved in the anonymous complaint against Boaler (Stanford Daily). Which is all hilarious.

Continue reading “Boaler, Conrad and the War of the Tattletales”

Dan, Dan the Hot Dog Man

This is a frivolous post, sort of about maths teaching, which begins with an irrelevant and even more frivolous story, sort of about dance teaching.

My daughters learn dancing from Jodie Greenwood, who was a highly accomplished dancer and is an even more accomplished teacher, perhaps the best teacher, of anything, that I have ever witnessed. Jodie’s school is small now and runs on a shoestring, but a decade ago it was large and still ran on a shoestring. One of the Carrollian features of the school then was that it appeared to offer more scholarships than there were students. The school appeared to lack a good financial manager. Continue reading “Dan, Dan the Hot Dog Man”

90 Degrees and 60 Minutes

Last week, and a year late, 60 Minutes got to the story of the two black American kids who came up with a “trigonometric proof” of Pythagoras’s theorem. Their report was sweet, manipulative and absurd. The two girls were charming, their mathematics teacher and their school more generally seemed cultured and intelligent, the 60 Minutes reporter was a beaming idiot, and the girls’ impressive and unexplained achievement was blown out of proportion by a factor of about a thousand. There was not a mathematician in sight. Continue reading “90 Degrees and 60 Minutes”

Good Book Burning and Bad Book Burning

The whole of Australia is pissed right now, with a Sydney council that decided to ban books on same sex parenting. Fine. But when librarians team up with a frickin’ Aboriginal clown to burn books somehow everybody cheers.

Evidently, some book burners are more equal than others. Continue reading “Good Book Burning and Bad Book Burning”

AMSI’s Undisciplined Message on Enrolments

AMSI put out a media release yesterday, announcing their Groundhog Day Participation Report Card on school mathematics enrolments. It’s probably no spoiler to give the spoiler: enrolments suck. Which brings to mind a Two Ronnies joke, revamped for this occasion:

“What time does the Specialist Mathematics class start?”

“What time can you get here?” Continue reading “AMSI’s Undisciplined Message on Enrolments”

A Non-Post on Indigenous Mathematics

A few weeks ago, ANU Science published a puff piece:

Maths has no borders: Professor Rowena Ball brings Indigenous mathematics to ANU

Professor Ball is an ANU mathematician and the article was a promotion of Mathematics Without Borders, a “research and teaching initiative” led by Ball. In particular, the article promoted a special topics course at ANU created and taught by Ball and fellow ANU mathematician, Hongzhang Xu, the course being “based on the Mathematics without Borders research program”. The article is bad in all the ways one can imagine.

Continue reading “A Non-Post on Indigenous Mathematics”

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. Continue reading “Explicit Objections”

A Couple Quick Words on the Palestinian Protests

(1) Of course the protests are antisemitic.

(2) People are allowed to be antisemitic assholes.

Regarding (1), non-Jews should be aware of what the overwhelming majority of Jews are seeing. Regarding (2), Jews should accept that they have to tolerate assholeness, just like everyone else. Continue reading “A Couple Quick Words on the Palestinian Protests”