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.
Continue reading “David de Carvalho Wrecks the Joint”

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”

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.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Curriculum: A Farce in Two Acts

(With apologies to Stephen Sondheim and Zero Mostel. Wise readers will skip to the content.)

Nothing familiar,
Something peculiar,
Nothing for anyone:
A curriculum tonight!

Something that’s galling,
Something appalling,
Nothing for anyone:
A curriculum tonight!

Continue reading “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Curriculum: A Farce in Two Acts”

The Origins of “Why Maths Must Change”

Many months ago, and many months too late, we submitted an FOI application, seeking documents from ACARA. We were interested in the origins of the statement Why Maths Must Change, signed onto by five prominent mathematics and mathematics education organisations in support of ACARA’s draft mathematics curriculum. We had previously written of our sea-bed low opinion of the statement, but we had also been puzzled by aspects of the statement. In particular, although WMMC has no declared link to ACARA, and although ACARA has to our knowledge never made any public reference to the statement, we had suspected that ACARA was involved in the production of WMMC.

Indeed, this appears to have been the case. Continue reading “The Origins of “Why Maths Must Change””

ACARA Trolls Tudge

Well, ok, ACARA didn’t start it. But still, it’s funny.

Last week, on 25 November, the Centre for Independent Studies posted an “analysis paper”, Failing to teach the teacher: An analysis of mathematics Initial Teacher Education. By “CIS Research Fellow” Glenn Fahey and two guys from something called Shaping Minds, the paper hammers education faculties’ emphasis on constructivist methods at the expense of explicit teaching. The paper, which Greg Ashman discusses a little here, is spot on and underwhelming. Continue reading “ACARA Trolls Tudge”

ACARA’s Response to AMSI’s Submission

On July 8, AMSI released its submission to ACARA, in which AMSI called for a halt of the mathematics curriculum review. On July 20, ACARA contacted AMSI, requesting a “consultation session” with AMSI, to enable ACARA “to address [AMSI’s] concerns”. That meeting was held on August 17. Prior to the meeting, ACARA forwarded to AMSI an agenda, together with a long document, Elaboration to Agenda Items. This Elaboration document amounted to a written response to AMSI’s submission, effectively a defense of ACARA’s draft mathematics curriculum.

The purpose of this post is to critique ACARA’s defense as presented in the Elaboration document. ACARA’s defense is extensive, and is astonishing in its nothingness. The self-indulgence of the Elaboration, its poverty of argument, its manipulativeness and special pleading, its level of plain falsehood, and its smug, unrelenting certainty, its unwillingness to offer any but the most trivial concession, is phenomenal.

We shall go through the Elaboration section by section. The analysis is necessarily long, since the Elaboration is classic Gish Gallop and demonstrating the Gish requires galloping alongside. Readers are advised to pour themselves a stiff drink and to get comfortable, with the bottle within easy reach; they might be here a while.

Continue reading “ACARA’s Response to AMSI’s Submission”