Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trashing Australia - Labor's new history curriculum

Of course the Bolter is being a tad ironic below. It's no surprise at all. Indeed, it was not only a totally predictable outcome, but was predicted.

What a surprise, from something produced by Stuart Macintyre for the Rudd Government:
HISTORIANS say the new national modern history curriculum for schools reads like a Marxist manifesto that ignores popular aspects of our past and neglects Australia’s role in world politics and war.

The course, designed for years 11 and 12, is heavily focused on revolutionary struggles, colonial oppression and women’s struggle for equality. It neglects Australia’s British roots and institutions and its military history, with no mention of Gallipoli, Tobruk or Kokoda, the experts say.

The draft lists World War I as a potential case study in “investigating modern history”. It lists “controversies surrounding ... memorial sites and commemorative events” as an area of study but does not mention Gallipoli or the battle of Fromelle.

In a topic headed “Australia 1880-1945”, the draft lists “the formation of organised labour”, “White Australia” and “wartime government controls, including conscription, control of the labour force, rationing, censorship and propaganda”.

But it does not mention the settlement of Australia or the deeds of the first AIF in World War I.

The draft history course was released this week for public discussion, divided into five units: The nation state and national identity; Recognition and equality; International tensions and conflicts; Revolutions; and, Australia and Asia.

Historian Andrew Garvie said the course agenda should be altered to give a more balanced view of history.

“This appears to be a very trendy, right-on curriculum. It looks heavily influenced by a Marxist view of history - there’s lots about about revolution and struggles against oppression,” Mr Garvie said.
How could this happen? Well, what else would you expect if you get Professor Stuart Macintyre, the former long-time communist and dean of Arts and Melbourne University, to help write the wretched thing?

Here Macintyre explains the history curriculum he helped to design, and in every coded word you can see the agenda to distance students from the centralising narratives of Australia, and to reorientate them from the country’s essentially British cultural and institutional traditions to anything but:

The great challenge in devising the history curriculum is to make it a curriculum that works for a wide diversity of students, that needs to be engaging for someone who might have arrived with their parents from Sudan two years ago or someone whose ancestors came here five generations ago and feel a strong attachment to particular parts of the country ...

This is a curriculum which pays substantial attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and I think it’s important that it does and that it gives all Australians a sense of those people, their place within Australian society, and their historical experience…

It gives greater attention to Asian history than is the case in most schools at the moment…

One of the big themes of the history curriculum is the question of sustainability. We’re working with history from the earliest times to the present and we see an extraordinary increase in human population and in human capacity but we also see consequences that raise questions about sustainability.
This is history being rewritten to destroy one of its essential roles - to give us a sense of a common past, even common myths, to build a sense of community. This is a curriculum not to unite us but to divide; not to build loyalty, but cynicism. The introduction of “sustainability” - the green agenda - suggests that the cynicism isn’t only aimed at our British and colonial past, but at capitalism as well. In the gentlest possible way, of course.

Keith Windschuttle predicted the curriculum would reflect Macintyre’s ideology:
In (Macintyre’s) volume on the period 1901 to 1940 for the Oxford History of Australia (1986), the first chapter compares the lives of five Australians:

• a fat, greedy and ruthless pastoral and mining entrepreneur who makes a fortune creating paper companies and manipulating stocks and shares;

• a poor, starving farmer who watches his wife and two children die while his surviving son becomes an embittered rural labourer and poet;

• a skilled tradesman ruined by unemployment who becomes a workers’ representative on the Arbitration Court;

• the wife of a farmer and coal miner who plays “a subordinate and domestic role” as she endures her husband’s disability and penury in Western Australia and New Zealand;

• a part-Aboriginal man who becomes a drover after pastoralists destroy his people’s way of life, and their ceremonies and customs fall into disuse.

Writ large, this political caricature of the Australian experience is the curriculum we can expect Macintyre to deliver to the Rudd government. It is no wonder that schoolchildren who have tasted earlier offerings from the same left-wing menu regard Australian history as dreary and uninspiring.

Macintyre also harbours a deep distaste for this country’s British heritage. In the concluding chapter of A Concise History of Australia (1999), he is comforted by the prediction that, just as the Romans were displaced in Britain, Aborigines and Asians will eventually supplant the colonisers of British descent in Australia.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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