David de Carvalho and the Annoying Taco Kids

Last week we wrote about the mushy Australian puff piece on PISA clown, Andreas Schleicher. Readers may recall that Schleicher was critical of “Australia’s shallow Curriculum”. Schleicher says nothing of substance, simply advocating, ad nauseam,

“teaching fewer things at greater depth”.

The Australian piece also briefly quoted Ben Jensen and Mailie Ross, from some consultancy group called Learning First. In the same issue of The Australian, Jensen and Ross had an opinion piece strongly criticising the Australian Curriculum in the opposite direction:

“The Australian curriculum, however, is not a high-quality, knowledge-rich curriculum. It doesn’t guarantee the knowledge students are supposed to learn … Instead, it is a skills-based curriculum; the standards for students to achieve are skills-based. A skills-based curriculum includes knowledge but isn’t specific about what knowledge should be taught, so there is no guarantee of what will be taught in each year level, let alone across the curriculum.

[The Curriculum should] make it clear what knowledge and skills students have the right to learn in order to participate productively in life. Be honest and acknowledge that the Australian curriculum does not offer this clarity.”

Jensen and Ross’s piece is not great, in particular arguing too loosely on the basis of vague generalities. But, notwithstanding the vagueness of both pieces, there is a clear conflict about what the Australian Curriculum is, and what it should be. Luckily, we have ACARA’s CEO, the all-wise David de Carvalho, to resolve the conflict. Continue reading “David de Carvalho and the Annoying Taco Kids”

A Bita Crap

We’ve been trying to tone down the language on this blog. Honestly. But education reporters make it so damn hard.

To be fair, most of the reports of the passing of ACARA’s curriculum have been ok. Not good, not exhibiting much in the way of thought or memory or reflection, but ok. Sure, the reporters could have pointed out that the Wonderful New Curriculum is still secret, meaning nobody really knows whether the media releases are remotely accurate. They could have reported that the participants in ACARA’s final charade are still bound by ACARA’s insidious NDA and so have been cowed into not commenting. They could have reported that AMSI and AustMS have been silent, and most definitely have not signalled endorsement of the new mathematics curriculum. They could have pointed out that ACARA had screwed up royally, for years, and that the alleged improvements to the mathematics curriculum, if real and meaningful, only came about because of a massive campaign, a campaign which, until the very end, ACARA treated with utter contempt. But, after all, they’re education reporters; you can’t expect too much. Continue reading “A Bita Crap”

ACARA, Annotated

Yesterday, ACARA’s draft curriculum was approved by the Ministers, as it was always going to be. The draft is, of course, still secret, since when did ACARA ever give a stuff about what anybody thinks? The draft is due to appear in a couple weeks. We shall be ready.

Until the draft is released, there is not a lot upon which to comment. We know some details of the reprehensible process of the last month, and we have been given some vague hints of the nature of the new curriculum. But, because of ACARA’s insidious NDA, and out of a respect for sources, there is little we have to write and less we are permitted to write. We know, however, what to be watching for, and we’ll be waiting. Continue reading “ACARA, Annotated”

And Thus it Ends

As it was always going to. The fix was always in. It just took time to fix the fix. Below is Minister Robert’s media release, grammar and all. UPDATE (01/04/22) Plus ACARA’s Media release, below below.


Minister Robert:

Education Ministers agree a new Australian Curriculum

Australian schools will have a new curriculum to teach after Education Ministers today endorsed the revised Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum.

Continue reading “And Thus it Ends”

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.