Tony Gardiner: What is Mathematical Literacy?

A couple days ago, I non-responded to the release of the 2023 PISA results (because, this). In a comment on that post, Tony Gardiner referred to a paper he had written for ICME10, held in 2004. In that paper, Tony claims, he “worked really hard … and totally failed” to make sense of “mathematical literacy”, one of the core nonsenses of PISA. Failure or otherwise, I think it’s a great paper, and Tony has kindly given permission to reproduce it here (and the PDF is here).

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The Producers

Or maybe we should have titled the post Springtime for Shitler. Whatever. The Productivity Commission has come out with its Final Report on the National School Reform Agreement. We made a submission, and we remarked upon the Interim Report, and so we feel obligated to write something now. But our heart isn’t in it. (And since there’s little else here, readers may as well enjoy the song.)

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A Submission to the Productivity Commission

An unexpected benefit of writing this blog has been that, although now persona non grata with polite academic-journalistic society, I’ve made a number of new, interesting and valuable contacts with impolite society.* One such contact is Shelley, a kindred and kindredly nutty spirit. Shelley and I have chatted and emailed over the last year and, about a month ago, Shelley requested that I make a submission to the Inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the National School Reform Agreement.

I was not clear on, and am still not clear on, why Shelley wanted this. I also had no idea what to think of either the PC or the NSRA, and neither the Inquiry’s terms of reference nor the call for submissions were close to encouraging. Nonetheless, since I pretty much always try to do what is asked of me,** I obliged.

Below, modulo a few minor edits, is the submission I wrote in the two hours I didn’t have to write it.

*) Come to think of it, both sides of that coin are benefits.

**) God knows why. Probably her.

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