Bella d’Abrera Discussing How Schools Are Teaching A Biased View Of Australian History And Why The National Curriculum Must Be Abolished On 4BC Mornings – 19 January 2024

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19 January 2024
Bella d’Abrera Discussing How Schools Are Teaching A Biased View Of Australian History And Why The National Curriculum Must Be Abolished On 4BC Mornings – 19 January 2024 - Featured image

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Dr Bella d’Abrera joined Bill McDonald on 4BC Mornings to discuss IPA research on the national curriculum and why it should be abolished.

All media posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Bill McDonald :

And we’re going to continue this conversation now. We’ve got a bit of expert advice on the subject we were just talking about, what kids are learning in school. I’ve got from the Institute of Public Affairs, Director of the Foundations of Western Civilization Programme, Dr. Bella d’Abrera joins us on the line. Good morning. You’ve heard what we’ve been talking about. What’s your take on this, what kids are being taught in pre-school or some of the things are being taught in pre-school and in primary school, early primary school?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Good morning, Bill. Thanks very much for having the time to talk to me today. So what’s going on is that, as your listeners have rightly been talking about and you’ve been discussing, is that children are being taught from a very early age all the really bad parts of Australian history. They’re being taught from three or four years old about the stolen generations and they’re being taught all the… What I would say, the dark pages of Australian history, but in contrast, they’re not being taught any of the good aspects of Australian history. They’re not being taught about what makes this a nation that everyone still wants to come and live in.

So the main problem is the national curriculum. That is where all this information is coming from. What happens in the national curriculum is that they have a priority called Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture. And this means that in every subject, they’re taught about the dark pages of Australian history. So it doesn’t matter if it’s maths or English or geography or PE, they’re taught this version of Australian history. So it’s inescapable for them.

So for example, in year three, teachers tell them about Australia Invasion Day and then only in year four, a year later do they hear about the First Fleet. So the major problem is the national curriculum, and the other problem is how the teachers are being taught at university. They’re also being taught-

Bill McDonald :

So they get taught about Invasion Day, did you say? Invasion Day is not an official day, is it? It’s been dubbed that by some sections of the community on 26th of January. So it gets taught in school?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

It is, it’s being taught in year three that there’s an Australia Day, but there’s also an Invasion Day and they’re taught that some First Nations Australians view the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 as an invasion, but they don’t hear about the First Fleet until a year later.

Bill McDonald :

Okay. What about in pre-school with kids being… Do they need to be taught that at all, any of it in pre-school?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

No.

Bill McDonald :

Shouldn’t they be doing other things in pre-school?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, this is the point. It’s completely inappropriate for children to be taught this stuff at this age. In pre-school, you’re barely a functioning human being. You’re still trying to work out where you are and who you are and what the world is. The problem with all this, of course, is that what suffers, the casualties of all this are the children. So since they started testing literacy and numeracy 20 years ago, the results have been falling steadily, actually quite quickly. So the true casualties in all this are the children who are being let down by the system.

Bill McDonald :

And this is all based off the national curriculum, which is the standard that the teachers are working to.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Yes, this curriculum is pretty much the problem. Not only does it emphasise this history, but it also emphasises sustainability in every subject as well. So really, the children can’t avoid it. So from the minute they get to school to the minute they leave because of the national curriculum, they just get the sustainability and they get the very negative view of Australian history.

Bill McDonald :

So at what point does it become not even educational and beneficial to the kids and almost brainwashing?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, this is the argument that you need to teach both versions. You need to teach all aspects of history. You can’t whitewash it. You need to talk about the parts of history that we need to really come to terms with, but we also need to balance that out with a positive view. And you could say that because the national curriculum really, really focuses on the negative aspects, it does become a form of ideological brainwashing.

And of course, there is a connection between the fact that the Australia Day, this Australia Day debate that we’ve been having, the IPA research shows that it’s the 18 to 25-year-old cohort who are less enthusiastic about celebrating Australia Day because they’re taught from the very moment that they’re conscious that Australia’s not worth celebrating. [inaudible 00:05:02]

Bill McDonald :

Well, that’s true. It is coming up in the research, isn’t it? It’s the younger generation now that are opposed to it. And they’ve got fairly strong views at a very early age. That’s why.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

That’s right, and you can’t blame them because they believe what their teachers tell them. And this is the narrative that they’re told, and I think it’s not really very healthy for society. But in good news, the older the cohort gets, the more they appreciate Australia. So the next cohort up has more support for Australia Day and doesn’t want to change the date. So it really is very much, there’s a very strong connection between what they’re taught at school and how they view this country.

Bill McDonald :

So where the hell does anyone ever… By getting a pre-school kid to write sorry notes or a grade seven kid to contact their federal member to try and urge them to speed up policy to stop climate change, where does that fit into anything in the education system or the national curriculum?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, it fits perfectly into the national curriculum because the national curriculum is all about activism, and I’m encouraging children to do this. In fact, there are many classroom activities where children are encouraged to be activists.

Bill McDonald :

Really? So it’s not just about giving them facts and arming them with knowledge. It’s about creating, as I said earlier, another generation of Greta Thunbergs?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Oh, yes. Look, in sustainability-

Bill McDonald :

Goodness me.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Sustainability is a very strong theme in the curriculum. In fact, they are required in some of their lessons to write to authorities about recycling and renewable energy, and they are encouraged to be activists. In fact, they’re also told to look at people like Greta Thunberg as role models. So we can really, really, really pinpoint exactly where this is coming from and this is the national curriculum.

Bill McDonald :

Do you think parents are aware of all this?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

I think parents are becoming much more aware than they used to be, especially during COVID when children were at home and parents suddenly realised what their children were being taught. And I think many parents are quite horrified, rightly so. You want your children to be able to read and write. This is a universal requirement. And at the moment, as I said earlier, the fact that the focus is on sustainability and indigenous issues in the national curriculum means that the children are casualties. They’re growing up semi literate and enumerate and really victims of a system that’s broken.

We’re throwing millions of dollars at education and it’s not making any difference. So clearly, the solution is not money. The solution is actually going through the national curriculum and taking out all these priorities and stripping it back to the basics.

Bill McDonald :

Wow, that’s a real eye-opener. So it’s definitely not fit for purpose at all and they need to pretty much turn it upside down and start again.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t have a national curriculum. You’d have schools would create their own curriculum, which would mean that parents could actually choose the schools based on what’s taught. And there’d be much more freedom for parents that way, there’d be more choice. But we are stuck with this national curriculum. So ideally-

Bill McDonald :

Wouldn’t you be better with a standardised system right across the country though?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, this was an attempt to standardise the system, but it has been turned into a document which is clearly hurting rather than helping.

Bill McDonald :

It sounds like it’s been hijacked a bit.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Well, yes, yes. You could argue that many in the world of education are of a certain persuasion and they’ve definitely written a curriculum that suits their worldview.

Bill McDonald :

And your thoughts on the theory that this is only harming kids and causing mental stress and anxiety amongst kids as they get older, if this is what they’re being fed into their little brains at a young age?

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Yes. Look, absolutely. There’s a direct result between this anxiety in the neurosis that they’ve got about climate change. And we see in the data the fact that they don’t want to celebrate Australia because they’re ashamed of the country. They do believe that it was born from an invasion and that we stole the land from indigenous Australians. So there is a direct correlation between what they’re learning at school and how they’re turning into adults, which is not particularly healthy.

Bill McDonald :

I’ve got a question on the text line. “Who’s responsible for deciding what is contained in the national curriculum, Dr. Bella?”

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

So it’s written by ACARA, which is the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. And this is supposedly an independent authority, which wrote the first curriculum 20 years ago, and it’s education professionals who are behind it. We don’t know them personally, but we know that they’re employed to come up with this curriculum.

Bill McDonald :

Wow. Okay. Well, I think we need to find a new panel or a new bunch of experts to come in. Maybe you need to get on board there and try and get involved in that yourself. Appreciate you talking with us. You’ve opened my eyes and I think our listeners are going to be probably shocked by a lot of the things you’ve revealed and shared with us this morning. Thanks very much for your time.

Dr. Bella d’Abrera :

Thank you so much.

This transcript from 4BC Mornings with Bill McDonald from 19 January 2024 has been edited for clarity.

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