2010 Bent Spoon Award – interim statement

On November 27, the Australian Skeptics announced at the TAM Australia convention that it had awarded its Bent Spoon award for 2010 to the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for its draft science curriculum.

Since then, however, comment has arisen from some bloggers as to the validity of issuing the award re ACARA’s activities.

The grounds for the award are set out in the nomination of 3 March 2010 and a supplementary statement of 20 March 2010, both of which are available on the Australian Skeptics’ website.

Criticism of the award has been very limited, restricted to a handful of blogs and some commentators. By no means do all commentators agree with the criticism made by the bloggers – some have been extremely supportive of the stance taken by Australian Skeptics.

However, after consideration of the issues raised, we have approached a number of experts in education and critical thinking, who are reviewing the original nomination and supplementary statement.

We remain convinced that the draft document as presented by ACARA was faulty. Whether or not those faults have been or will be rectified – a point that is yet to be proven as a revised curriculum has not been published – the draft itself required comment. There is a review process for the curriculum as much as for any such document or decision (including the Skeptics’ awards), so if by making the award we have contributed to that review, then that is well and good, and proper. We are not the only ones to have criticised the draft curriculum.

The Bent Spoon award is a defence of science, and that remains the key criterion for awarding the Bent Spoon, whether it goes to what might be called the outer fringes of ‘knowledge’ and claims, or to an individual or organisation within the scientific establishment – all should be equally under scrutiny.
Australian Skeptics acknowledge that we too fall within that scrutiny, which is why we are looking into the issue and will respond in public once we have something considered and worthwhile to say.