January 25th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Defence: Time for a reality check

EDITORIAL: The flight from fatherhood

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Iraq another divisive issue for the ALP

IRAQ: The case against Saddam Hussein

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The hard questions

COMMENT: Abortion-cancer row continues

LETTERS: Mutual concerns

LETTERS: Dealing with Asia

LETTERS: Protecting the Australian way of life

LETTERS: Free trade

LETTERS: 'Dumbing down'

COMMENT: Sean Penn, Blue Heelers: the politics of celebrity

PROFILE: Why Belloc still matters

BOOKS: The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, by Keith Windschuttle

BOOKS: Culture of Life: Culture of Death, edited by Luke Gormally

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'Dumbing down'

by R. Hughes

News Weekly, January 25, 2003

I refer to the article by Bob Denahy on dumbing down in education (NW, November 30, 2002)

Actually, it's a bit hard to see how a subject like English literature can be dumbed down. It's very subjective to start with; there is no one right way to write an English essay.

What I remember from my school days was an expectation that we read long, boring, and to us irrelevant books; that many children got good passes without bothering to read the books; that we didn't learn to appreciate literature but to hate it; and that rather than developing critical skills, we learned to waffle and bluff our way through essays.

On the other hand, we had to develop some skill in writing. Multiple choice questions were unheard of in English and History exams.

What was not so prominent during my school days are the brainwashing and what is little more than politically correct racism that have entered the modern school curriculum.

We learned about Aboriginal culture as an example of a palaeolithic culture. There was no romanticising their culture, and we were not told to blame white settlement for Aboriginal problems, something that seems a basic tenet of the material taught in history these days.

The quality of teaching was variable, and I don't see evidence of any improvement.

R. Hughes,
Strathfield, NSW

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