In 2004, the Federal Education Minister, Julie Bishop, proposed the creation of a National Curriculum. Bishop argued that it would benefit all Australians as it would take education out of the hands of ideologues occupying state bureaucracies and give it to a national board of studies that would be made up of educators from the “sensible centre.”
Bishop could not have been more wrong.
In the last few weeks, proposed revisions to the National Curriculum by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has shown that the opposite has taken place.
Education in this country is now held in the grip of left-leaning ideologues at ACARA, whose views have been firmly embedded into all learning areas of the proposed Australian Curriculum.
It is important to note that ACARA has presented the changes to the curriculum as “revisions.”
This statement is highly inaccurate, though, with the proposed changes in the “Learning Area” of the humanities and social sciences dramatically altering many aspects of the curriculum.
The description of Australia currently taught to students is that: “Australia is a secular and multi-faith society with a Christian heritage.”
One proposal is to change it to: “Australia is a culturally diverse, multi-faith, secular, and pluralistic society with diverse communities, such as the distinct communities of First Nations Australians.”
Such a “revision” is, in fact, a complete rewriting of the Australian Curriculum and the history of Australia. Thus, to present such changes as mere “revisions” is dishonest, and it simply acts to reduce public scrutiny of the true nature of the document.
Instead, the “revisions” should be seen for what they are: a radical, new curriculum.
One that presents a hostile message to all aspects of the Australian way of life, including Christianity, and is so skewed to the political left that left-wing opinion becomes fact.
It is also one where children are taught that the main features of Western Civilisation are imperialism, colonisation, and slavery and that they should be ungrateful to the men and women who died and fought for this country. It also teaches them that Anzac Day is “contested.”
Essentially the new proposed Australian Curriculum removes practically every single positive reference to Australia and its history.
There is no recognition that Australia is a thriving and tolerant liberal democracy, that in so many respects is the envy of the world. This is remarkable given our achievements as a nation.
Further, the curriculum is deeply pessimistic about our culture and our society.
The presence of divisive and dangerous Critical Race Theory and identity politics throughout the curriculum means that children will risk finishing school with the overwhelming feeling that there is no hope, that they have neither choice nor power in life, and that they cannot shape their own lives.
Meanwhile, ACARA has left out of its consultative process the one group that should have been first on the list, parents. For it is parents, not the state, that must determine what is in the best interests of their children.
It is both revealing and significant that in its statement on April 29, 2021—which announced the release of the proposed revisions—ACARA listed those with whom it had consulted as “practicing teachers and curriculum specialists,” “teachers and principals,” and “national teacher and principal professional associations and other subject matter experts.”
Parents were not mentioned.
By its very nature, education is, and will always be, a matter of intense political contest and debate. However, it is a contest that should be decided ultimately by the parents.
The alternative to parents deciding what their children learn is the situation that now prevails under the Australian Curriculum. A curriculum decided by politicians and bureaucrats, which has become overtly partisan and political.
By rights, though, there should not be a “national curriculum” in the first place. Instead, schools and communities should themselves decide what is taught and how it is taught—subject to minimum standards set by state governments.
This would establish various curricula that encourage creativity and innovation among teachers and avoid imposing a nationwide ideological straitjacket on young people.