QAA’s Other Problems

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is a UK body, “an independent charity working to benefit students and higher education”. QAA proposes and checks upon standards for higher education, with some degree of authority. In September, QAA released for public consultation its revised Subject Benchmark Statement on Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research (MSOR). Compared to the 2019 Statement, the 2022 draft Statement has been most noted for the introduction of a “cross-cutting theme” of “equality, diversity, accessibility and inclusion”, as well as themes of “sustainable development” and “employability, entrepreneurship and enterprise education”. The draft is bad. Continue reading “QAA’s Other Problems”

The Joy of Gambling

A couple weeks ago, the Federal Government announced new regulations for gambling advertising: no longer will people be encouraged to “Gamble responsibly”; now they will be informed that “Chances are you are about to lose”. They will be encouraged to reflect on “What’s gambling really costing you?” and to “Imagine what you could be buying instead”, and so on. Which will fix everything. Continue reading “The Joy of Gambling”

The Indelicate Art of the Mathematics Documentary

Mathsy people try very hard to like mathematics documentaries. They will frequently claim that they like them. But they don’t, really, not often, not much. For non-maths people it is much simpler: they don’t like maths documentaries and, if not so intimidated as to hold their tongues, they are generally happy to say so.

The sad reality is that most mathematics documentaries are bad. They are bad art, and they make for bad education.* This was brought to mind by a new Netflix documentary, A Trip to Infinity, and by a recent invitation. The invitation I’ll get to later. The documentary is bad.

Continue reading “The Indelicate Art of the Mathematics Documentary”

RatS 25: Taibbi – On the Loony Van Gogh Protests

We try to avoid recommending paywalled stuff, but the Van Gogh nonsense, and the response, is just so depressing, and Taibbi’s critique is so good, we decided to make an exception. Of course, regular readers will be used to our badgering them to read Taibbi, and the subscription is worth it. But readers can also avoid paying by “trying 7 days for free”, and then cancelling immediately (so you don’t then forget and get billed).

A couple paragraphs are below. Read all of Taibbi’s post, and then scream.

Continue reading “RatS 25: Taibbi – On the Loony Van Gogh Protests”

OUP’s Missed Chance on Knowledge and Skills

A bit over a week ago, the Australian arm of Oxford University Press, in collaboration with the Australian Maths Trust, released a White Paper: The knowledge and skills gap in Australian primary mathematics classrooms. Yeah, it’s in the “well, duh” category of reports, on the massive range of student mathematics levels, which primary school teachers must then manage. But, still, the report can’t be a bad thing, can it? Well, …

Continue reading “OUP’s Missed Chance on Knowledge and Skills”

Harrison Bergeron

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Read Vonnegut’s great short story here, or watch an excellent adaptation, below.

Continue reading “Harrison Bergeron”

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.

Continue reading “Jenna Price and Her Charming Mates”

We Are the Robots

First, enjoy some great Kraftwerk, because, and just because:

Regular readers may recall Australian reporter Natasha Bita. Natasha did some really excellent stenographic work for ACARA. Natasha also played right along with AMSI’s most recent Chicken Little crusade. It turns out that Natasha is an excellent stenographer even when there’s nothing to stenograph. Continue reading “We Are the Robots”