Alan Tudge Calls for a Rewrite of the Draft Curriculum

Rebecca Urban has a report in The Australian today (Murdoch, paywalled):

‘Warped lessons must be dumped’: Tudge

Education Minister Alan Tudge says the board of the country’s schooling authority must substantially rewrite its draft national curriculum, warning he will not endorse the proposed document amid concern student outcomes would be harmed. …

In the letter, seen by The Australian, Mr Tudge urged the [ACARA] board to seriously consider recent feedback from education experts, who have flagged concerns that the proposed changes amounted to a weakening of learning standards.

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RatS 15: Taibbi – Afghanistan: We Never Learn

Matt Taibbi has written the obvious but excellent article on American incompetence and mendacity in regard to Afghanistan:

Every image coming out of Afghanistan this past weekend was an advertisement for the incompetence, arrogance, and double-dealing nature of American foreign policy leaders. Scenes of military dogs being evacuated while our troops fire weapons in the air to disperse humans desperate for a seat out of the country will force every theoretical future ally to think twice about partnering with us …

The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence.

Read the whole thing. And then scream.

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Does There Exist a Sensible Australian Maths Ed Academic?

Yes, the question is rhetorical, but it is not just rhetorical.

A couple months ago, Greg Ashman asked Twitter a more specific version of this question:

[W]ho are the education academics in Australia who specialise in mathematics teaching and who advocate for explicit teaching, times tables etc.?

Ashman has a decently large following, but the replies to his question were tellingly non-existent. The only specific people suggested were the very non-Australian Jim Milgram, a hard core Stanford mathematician who took time off to wallop Jo Boaler, and Stephen Norton, a Griffith University education academic who appears solid and thoughtful, and barely visible. Anyone else?

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Robbing Peter to Play Appallingly

The time for submissions to ACARA’s review has ended. Which means it’s now time for machinations and clandestine transactions. One hopes that our Glorious Mathematical Leaders know who they are dealing with and how to deal with them.* In the main, we’ll get back to posting on other topics.** Still, there are ACARA irritants remaining, things left unwritten, and when we’re sufficiently irritated we’ll post on it.

One constant irritant has the been the “it’s all there” defenses of ACARA’s draft. Yes, so it goes, there is an increased emphasis on inquiry/modelling/whatever, but not at the expense of basic skills.

“We absolutely have to focus on problem solving [but there should also be] an equal focus on building fluency”.

So, it’s not “strategies/efficiency/skills/content” versus “problem solving/reasoning/exploring/thinking”:

“Great Maths teachers do both!”

See? The problem isn’t with the ACARA draft curriculum. The problem is that you’re not a great maths teacher.

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Last Day For Submissions to the ITE Review

We haven’t paid much attention to this, since there have been much smellier fish to fry. Still, it is worth some attention.

In April, Alan Tudge launched a Review into Initial Teacher Education, and in June a Discussion Paper was released, with an invitation for submissions. Today (midnight?) is the cut-off for submissions.*

We wrote on Tudge’s launching of the Review and, prior to that, on Tudge’s speech on general educational issues. We gave both a “meh” review. In particular in regard to ITE, we couldn’t get that excited, since reforming ITE can have no great effect while teachers are released into the current moribund, admin-bloated, directionless, culture-free educational system. Training a Jack Brabham and then throwing him into a Morris Minor is not gonna win you a lot of races.

Still, there are things worth saying, and so it is probably worth saying them for the Review. We’ll submit something.

The Discussion Paper for the Review seems well-written, although it is largely concerned with formal detail of little interest to us (and perhaps of questionable importance). Responses to the discussion paper are then intended to be guided by questions appearing at the end of each section. Again, most of these questions do not concern us, but a few seem suitable for the anchoring of criticisms. The following are the questions to which we intend to reply, followed by an indication of how we might reply:

What can be done to attract more high-achievers and career changers to the profession?

(Um, make the job not suck? Have a coherent curriculum, which assumes and encourages a culture of learning, and get rid of the endemic Little Hitlerism.)

What features of the current ITE system may prevent high-quality mid- to late-career professionals transitioning to teaching? 

(Everything. It is all pointless. For everyone. One learns to teach by teaching, and the rest is trivial.)

What are the main reasons ITE students leave an ITE course before completion?

(Perhaps a distaste for insanity.)

Are the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers fit for purpose in identifying the key skills and knowledge pre-service teachers need to be ready for the classroom?

(The Professional Standards are not fit for wrapping yesterday’s garbage.)

How can ITE providers best support teachers in their ongoing professional learning?

(By staying as far away as possible.)

Do the current HALT (Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers) arrangements support the education ecosystem, particularly in relation to ensuring quality mentoring and supervision of ITE students?

(Of course not. “Highly accomplished” doesn’t mean highly accomplished, it means playing the game and playing it safe. Genuinely highly accomplished teachers take risks and make errors and put noses out of joint; these teachers, who are the true leaders, will seldom if ever be recognised by any such system.)

Does ACER’s Literacy and Numeracy Test Suck Balls?**

(Yes.)

 

*) Notably there is no ACARAesque sheep-herding survey, and submissions can simply be written as text, or uploaded as a Word/PDF file.

**) The Discussion paper mentions ACER’s test, but somehow failed to question its worth. We’ve corrected their oversight.

 

 

 

Alan Tudge, Annotated Again

A bit over a month ago, Alan Tudge, gave a major policy speech, Being our best: Returning Australia to the top group of education nations. Tudge’s speech, which we annotated here, was not all bad, a weird mix of goods and stupids and non sequiturs; we graded the speech a C+

The most encouraging part of Tudge’s speech was the promised scrutiny of teacher training and, in particular, of the pointless, ridiculous and actively destructive 2-year Masters that is currently required. Now, about a week ago, Tudge’s office issued a media release, announcing a review into initial teacher education. The media release was accompanied by a Tudge-fed puff piece in the Australian Financial Review (paywalled). What follows is our annotation of Tudge’s media release, followed by a quick discussion of the AFR report.

Initial teacher education review launched

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has today launched a review of initial teacher education, a key element of the government’s ambition to lift Australian school standards.

A key element? Well, that is depressing.

Last month, the Minister outlined a new target to return Australia to the top group of education nations globally by 2030, noting that our school standards have steadily slipped over the last two decades.

The review of initial teacher education courses is the most critical element towards lifting standards,

No, it is not.

noting that the quality of teaching is the most important in-school factor influencing student achievement.

Yes, it is. Initial teacher training, however, has, and can have, almost no bearing on the quality of teaching. Pretty much all ITE can do is get in the way and screw people up and piss people off. 

The review will address two key questions: how to attract and select high-quality candidates into the teaching profession,

You need a review to tell you to have the job pay more and not be so burdened with government-imposed garbage? 

and how to prepare them to become effective teachers.

You can’t. Give it up. Teachers learn by teaching and reflecting and teaching, and that’s pretty much it. KKK.

Since 2006, the number of top students choosing to study education has declined by a third, and many teachers are still graduating from their courses insufficiently prepared to teach in a classroom.

What does this mean? No one is prepared for their first class.

The review will be conducted by a panel chaired by former Department of Education and Training Secretary Lisa Paul AO PSM, supported by:

    • Malcolm Elliott – President of the Australian Primary Principals Association 
    • Derek Scott – 2019 Australian School Principal of the Year
    • Bill Louden AM – Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Western Australia

We do not know these people, but some form of reverse Groucho applies. Anybody who has risen to prominence in the current educational system is almost certainly unqualified to review the current educational system. 

The first public discussion paper will be released by June, followed by a period of public consultation. The review will be completed in six months.

This is Sirens of Titan. Is there any evidence that at any time, in any place, “public consultation” has had any effect whatsoever? 

Minister Tudge said Australia’s teachers are some of the most dedicated and hard-working in the world and the review would help grow and support the workforce.

One of the main aspects of being an adult is learning to judge people on what they do, rather than on what they say. If only we had more adults.

“Particularly over the last year, we have seen how important our teachers are to Australian kids and we want to provide them with the best platform to produce better student outcomes,” Minister Tudge said.

“We used to consistently be in the top group of education nations and I am confident we can get there again.

If you are, you’re a fool. 

“The recommendations of this review will help ensure we attract high-quality, motivated candidates into teaching and develop them into teachers with the skills our students need.

No it won’t, and no it won’t.

“We want the finest students choosing to be teachers and we also want to make it easier for accomplished mid- and late-career individuals to transition into the profession, bringing their extensive skills and knowledge into our school classrooms.

This seems to be hinting at having at least some prospective teachers avoid the idiot Masters. Of course, all prospective teachers should be permitted to avoid the idiot Masters. 

The review builds on the reforms the government has already made to improve ITE, including assessing and accrediting ITE courses and testing graduates’ literacy and numeracy before they can enter a classroom to teach.

Meaning ACER’s grotesque and pointless literacy and numeracy test? That’s an example of the brilliance to be expected from this review? Lord spare us.

****************************************************

The media release is not great, although it is standard to oversell the importance of such a review, and to avoid declaring the pre-determined conclusions. More forthright is the accompanying puff by AFR education editor, Julie Hare (paywalled). Hare’s Tudge-fed piece, titled Alan Tudge’s 10-year plan to get schools back to basics, is both encouraging and deeply discouraging.

The encouraging aspect of Hare’s piece is Tudge’s explicit questioning of value the 2-years Masters:

“People just used to have to do a nine-month diploma of education. And that was when our education standards were much higher. In the UK, it’s a nine-month diploma and their education standards are going up, not down. So if others can do it, and we have done it in the past, I can’t see why we can’t do it in the future.”

One discouraging aspect is Tudge’s genuflecting to “technology”, pretending that Khan Academy or some such nonsense is going to help. That “quality of teaching” thing sure lasted a long time. And, much more discouraging, it is pretty clear that Tudge, and Hare, have absolutely no clue what “basics” means.

Hare’s report goes on and on and on and on about Australia’s PISA scores. It is a theorem, if someone rabbits on about “basics” and PISA (and/or NAPLAN) then they have no clue about the meaning of either “basics” or PISA, or both.

Overall, we’ll give Tudge another C+ for this one. Tudge tries, but he is just a C kind of student.

 

UPDATE (27/04/21)

Tudge is about to give a speech at The Age Schools Summit, whatever the Hell that is, and has given early access to his speech, at least to The Age. It seems clear that Tudge thinks it’s all about “the quality of teachers”, nothing about funding and, incredibly, nothing about Australia’s education system being intrinsically and fundamentally fucked. If Tudge clearly doesn’t realise the idiocy is entrenched in ACARA and State authorities, administered by the high-profile clowns that he’s about to pal around with, then fuck him. He’s useless.

 

UPDATE (27/04/21)

Below is Tudge’s press conference from April 15, announcing the ITE review. The discussion is more wide-ranging than the media release, and is more encouraging. Tudge says some of the same dumb things, but he also says some smart things, starting around 6:00. (Lisa Paul, who will head the review, says some really dumb things, starting around 10:30).

The Coronavirus Vaccine and Australia’s Dangerous Clot

Most people will be aware that Australia’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines is being threatened by a dangerous clot. But it’s not just Greg Hunt. As well as the Health Minister there are a number of other problems, including a second, worrying clot.

Of course, ScoMoFo and his team of incompetent goons have screwed up Australia’s vaccination program, and of course they’re too busy image-managing and blame-shifting to work to fix it up. But there is also a serious question about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the prevalence of dangerous blood-clotting.

In brief, is the AstraZeneca vaccine sufficiently safe to warrant its use? How likely is the vaccine to protect a person, and protect them from what? What are the dangers of the vaccine, how likely are the dangers to eventuate, and how dangerous are the dangers?

We’re open-minded on the question, we haven’t looked hard for trustworthy answers, and we’d appreciate it if anyone can point us to reasonable and reliable evidence. We’ll happily work to digest any good-faith analyses, and will look to write about it in future posts. It would not surprise us if we ended up being convinced that the AstraZeneca vaccine, although not without significant risks, is worth the risks. But, as it stands, we’re not convinced.

One thing that does absolutely nothing to convince us that the AstraZeneca vaccine is sufficiently safe is pronouncements from ScoMoFo and GregHunt that the vaccine is sufficiently safe. Declarations from these self-interested con men, on anything, are worthless. We are also not at all comforted by government apparatchik’s chanting “no proven link”, as if some formal proof of a link rather than statistical evidence is the critical issue right now. All these people may be telling the truth, but they are so heavily invested in manipulation and crowd management that it is impossible to tell.

We look forward to reading, and writing upon, whatever non-crazy material is thrown our way.

 

 

 

RatS 10: Adam Curtis’s CGYOoMH

Well, to be more accurate, this is a WatS, since it’s a BBC series.

Adam Curtis is a unique, brilliant filmmaker, exploring the psychology and politics of modern society like no one else. Two previous series, The Power of Nightmares and The Century of the Self, are musts. Curtis now has a new series, Can’t Get You Out of My Head: an Emotional History of the Modern WorldIt is viewable on BBC iPlayer (with VPN trickery) and, at least for now, here. It is great.