December 2nd 2017

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL Turnbull redefines terms of marriage vote

CANBERRA OBSERVED Turnbull is running on empty as margin shrinks

GENDER POLITICS Northern Territory proposes recognising fluid genders

ENVIRONMENT Sea levels are not on the rise: research

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Our clinging to the fringe is stultifying development

FREEDOM Where to now after the marriage redefinition vote?

EDUCATION Unions and the ALP have gutted the curriculum

ECONOMICS The West faces tests of its own resilience

CULTURE The mysterious birth of technology

DRUGS AND SOCIETY Addiction and the cultural repression of spiritual values

OPINION Don't stand by as the fight for freedom begins

LITERATURE Britain's Kazuo Ishiguro a worthy Nobel laureate

HUMOUR Whispers from court side

MUSIC Funny tones: Playing it for a laugh

CINEMA Murder on the Orient Express: First-class mayhem

BOOK REVIEW Disentangling the free-market fraud

BOOK REVIEW Not inscrutible, just ambitious


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Unions and the ALP have gutted the curriculum

by Dr Kevin Donnelly

News Weekly, December 2, 2017

November is the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution and even though history proves communism was an abysmal failure, leading to totalitarian dictatorships where millions died and suffered, many in Australia’s education system still yearn for a socialism-inspired utopia.

While the Safe Schools program is being sold as an anti-bullying program even its designer Roz Ward admits it’s really about indoctrinating children with radical gender and sexuality theories.

Theory and practice

Ward argues that only Marxism provides the theory and practice of genuine human liberation” and that the program “is about supporting gender and sexual diversity, not about stopping bullying”.

And “Safe Schools” is only the tip of the iceberg. For years now the sad reality is that the cultural left has taken the long march through the school curriculum in its battle to overturn the status quo.

Take the national curriculum designed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority established in 2008 by Julia Gillard when Deputy Leader of the then Rudd government.

When first designed the national curriculum was attacked for forcing subjects to adopt politically correct cross-curriculum priorities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, sustainability and Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia.

Ignored were the underpinnings of Western legal and political systems like the Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the impact of Judeo-Christianity, and liberalism as a political philosophy.

Early copies of the Civics and Citizenship curriculum also ignored the importance of Western culture and Judeo-Christianity by arguing that Australia was a “multicultural and multi-faith society”.

While arguing that students should be taught that indigenous cultures are “strong, resilient, rich and diverse” and learn about “religious groups to which Australians of Asian heritage belong”, there is nothing about how Christianity contributes to social welfare and the common good.

Relativism reigns

Reinforcing the cultural left’s worship of Gaia, students are also told that they must be active in “protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world”. Even worse: at a time when Australia must embrace a clear and strong sense of citizenship, the curriculum advocates a postmodern, relativistic definition.

Students are told citizenship “means different things to people at different times” and that there are “multiple definitions of citizenship that reflect personal, social, spatial and temporal dimensions”. Tell that to the Muslim students being radicalised in Western Sydney.

The Australian Education Union and its offshoot, the NSW Teachers Federation, are also strong advocates of a cultural-left agenda. Then the AEU has long been a critic of meritocracy, academic studies, funding Catholic and independent schools, and the union regularly campaigns for the election of ALP governments.

The AEU’s submission to an ALP-sponsored review of its party structure argues “it is in the best interest of the ALP and the AEU to have a robust and accessible relationship with ministers and shadow ministers” and that there are “some thousands of members of both the AEU and the ALP who support a constructive relationship between the two”.

It shouldn’t surprise that in its submission the AEU aligns itself with the “parties of the Left, labour, socialist and communist [that] have always put great store by education as a means whereby social class and discrimination can be addressed”.

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English is also a strong supporter of a cultural-left view of education. Parents might be forgiven for thinking that English teaching is about learning the basics, involving learning to read and mastering correct grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.

Not so according to the AATE, which champions what is described as “critical literacy”. Ilana Snyder at Monash University, when describing critical literacy, condemns traditional English teaching for enforcing “hierarchal relations in society” and for “training students to be governed by rules”.

Snyder goes on to say “there is no single, correct view of literacy” as it is a socio-cultural construct that is “continually changing and evolving”. When opposing teaching Standard English, both she and the AATE champion the work of Paulo Freire, a Christian Socialist who argues that the purpose of reading is to challenge the status quo and to bring about the workers’ paradise.

Schools get full Marx

Drawing on Marxist theory, Freire argues that capitalist society in inequitable and unjust and that workers and citizens must be taught to adopt a “critical attitude to the world and so to transform it”.

While it’s true that a rainbow alliance of cultural-left groups has taken control of education, the irony is that old-fashioned Marxists like Antonio Gramsci believe in traditional education based on mastering an academically rigorous curriculum.

Gramsci argues students must be taught Latin and Greek as well as learning about the past civilisations on which Western culture is based. In opposition to today’s “care, share and grow” approach to education where all are winners, Gramsci also writes that education involves “repetition of disciplined and methodical acts” that require “diligence, precision and poise”.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of Dumbing Down.

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