Jenna Price and Her Charming Mates

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle at the moment, with NSW planning to appoint a chief behaviour advisor, to advise on school discipline issues. It is not an issue we think much about. For us, if you’ve given up on kids sitting still and facing the front, attending to a teacher teaching, then you’ve already conceded the Mainland and you’re simply fighting over the Outer Territories. Nonetheless, we can appreciate the practical importance, and we’ve read a number of good articles by Greg Ashman and others.

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Guests in the Spotlight: Anthony Harradine – Simplify

The Maths Ed World is of course full of people who have failed upwards, but Anthony Harradine is different; Anthony has succeeded downwards. Anthony long ago forwent a position of considerable apparatchik clout to instead Do Things That Matter. Anthony’s projects notably include Numerical Acumen and Mathscraft, but there is plenty, plenty more. Anthony Harradine is one of my, very few, maths ed heroes.

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Eddie Woo and Greg Ashman

A few days ago, the Centre of Independent Studies held a forum, Ensuring Australia’s Maths Teaching Adds up to Success. The stars of the show were Eddie Woo and Greg Ashman, and the video of the forum has now been posted.

Of course the main thing to note about this forum was the astonishing decision to not include any women. But, ignoring that disgraceful aspect, the forum is well worth watching. We have our thoughts (of course), but we’ll save them until after people have had a chance to watch and to comment.

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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!

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