National Curriculum

How The National Curriculum Abolishes Australian Citizenship

Written by
28 May 2021
Originally appeared in The Spectator Australia

The draft national curriculum for schools is seeking to teach the next generation of Australians a progressive and utopian view of global citizenship, just as the global COVID-19 shutdown and the resurgence of authoritarian nation-states have exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of that ideology.  

In so doing the curriculum’s own designers have abrogated their much-vaunted commitment to also teach “Critical and Creative Thinking”, as their globalist world-view is woven into the fabric of the curriculum, without any examination of how it might conflict with the “Realist” perspective of a world order constituted by independent nation-states. 

In studying the draft curriculum for Humanities and Social Sciences, released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, we see many phrases like “the responsibilities and obligations of citizens in local, regional, national and global communities.” This is the rhetorical technique of elision, defined by Oxford Languages as the “process of joining together or merging things, especially abstract ideas.”

Because of this muddling of distinct concepts, students will literally not be able to distinguish between their actual legal rights and obligations as citizens under the Australian constitution, as opposed to those symbolic and ethical rights and obligations they (may) owe to ‘global communities.’ Without the necessary cognitive categories, how can they reason their way through the world’s complexities? 

Elsewhere in the Civics curriculum the mechanics of Australian democracy (voting, federalism etc) are laid out to be taught, but this is completely unconnected the exciting parts where teachers are encouraged to turn the students into activists with a global perspective.  

When I studied political science sometime last century, every graduate of international relations was seemingly obligated to write an essay contrasting the globalist approach with the realist view, which sees the global order as primarily constituted by nation-states and the various arrangements they have entered into through treaties and commitments to trans-national organisations. In such dissertations Henry Kissinger was (and still is!) the arch-Realist, while exemplars of liberal internationalism were US Presidents Woodrow Wilson and (via its incorporation into Neoconservatism) the Georges Bush. 

As Professor David Martin-Jones explained in the magazine I edit, the IPA Review, the realists were more or less routed from academia in the wave of globalist utopianism that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall: 

International Relations is now concerned not with how state and non-state actors operate in the world as it is, but with how it ought to be. Embedding utopianism, idealism, justice and post-colonial guilt tripping evidently appeals to the student of the snowflake generation rather more than a historically nuanced appreciation of modern statecraft, or the use of state force and fraud in international politics to achieve interests and ends.

The draft curriculum for HASS is the weaponisation of that victorious ideology in the schools. Many have already noted there seems to be little love for our nation expressed in the curriculum, and to that we add that there is no connection made between our nationhood and our ability to survive and thrive as an independent State. As the IPA pointed out in this submission to a  Parliamentary inquiry, we must understand our way of life and who we are a nation before we can be a functioning and independent State; but the curriculum ignores this in pursuit of the chimera of global citizenship. 

This being 2021, there is also in the draft curriculum the inevitable admixture of post-modernism (in its guise as the “Constructivist” school of International Relations), in which identity is merely a product of society’s power structures, but which paradoxically can be re-created through an act of will (available only to the elect/woke). Thus the draft curriculum, under the strand of “Civics and Citizenship Knowledge and Understanding” strand, outlines the “Citizenship, diversity and identity” sub-strand (bear with me) which: 

[E]xplores the shared values of Australian citizenship, the diversity of Australia as a culturally diverse and multi-faith society, what shapes identity and obligations as citizens in a globalised world.

And students will be taught that “global citizenship” demands “Recognition that we live in an increasingly interdependent world, where citizens’ identity transcends geography or political borders.”

It is astounding that this could be written just as international borders were closing and citizens (including Australians) were looking to their Governments (not the WHO or the UN) for health-care, income support, vaccinations and so on (yes, there is some irony that many erstwhile ‘global citizens’ working overseas are now waving their Australian Passports to exercise a right of return, but they are nevertheless right to do so). 

Whatever excuses we might make for the utopian dreams of ‘new world order’ taking flight in the 1990s, what possible justification can there be for their uncritical dissemination just when the actions of nation-States like China and Russia can only be explained in a realist framework? As the layers of globalist bullshit have been washed away by the torrent of words from the Wolf Warrior diplomats of Beijing, the foundations of the global order of nation states established by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 have been plainly revealed. Plainly that is, to everyone except those in ACARA shepherding through the new national curriculum, and the assembled Education Ministers who will no doubt approve it after some face-saving revisions following the current bogus period of consultation. 

As my colleague Dr Bella d’Abrera has written, the Morrison Government must reject the proposed curriculum. And that should just be for starters. 

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Scott Hargreaves

Scott Hargreaves is the Executive General Manager at the Institute of Public Affairs

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