THE changes to the national curriculum announced by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) last week should sound some very loud alarm bells for Australian parents.
If adopted, the changes mean that future generations of children will be in danger of finishing school and turning into adults who know nothing at all.
Over the next couple of years, ACARA has promised to add a range of impractical and ideological ‘21st century skills’, with a shift to ‘critical’ and ‘creative’ thinking.
Apparently, students will be taught things like how to ‘develop curiosity, imagination, resilience and self-regulation’, how to ‘respect and appreciate the ideas, perspectives and values of others’ and how to ‘care about the well-being of their friends and families, their communities and the planet.’
This comes despite the fact that the curriculum is already overcrowded, unbalanced, ideologically-biased, systematically hostile to Western Civilisation and failing school children around the nation.
One of the most problematic things about it is the existence of the three cross curriculum priorities of ‘Sustainability’, ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’, and ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia.’
While they might be worthy topics of investigation, they are incorporated into every subject whether relevant or not.
And students are hearing the same thing in every subject.
If ACARA succeeds in watering down the curriculum even further, children graduating from Australian schools will be very well versed in sustainability and social justice issues, but might not be able to work out basic fractions, know who wrote Hamlet and when, or tell you why Australia is a liberal democracy.
You only need to look at world rankings to see just how useful these ‘soft skills’ and competencies have been to children so far.
Since 2015, Australia has performed incredibly poorly in world rankings.
Reading literacy has fallen from 4th to 16th, mathematics has plummeted from 7th to 25th and science has dropped from 4th to 14th.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) at the age of 15, fourteen per cent of Australian students are functionally illiterate.
That means that htey would not understand the instructions on a packet of headache tablets.
Twenty per cent of Australian youth lack basic arithmetic skills, and would fail to determine how much petrol is left in a tank by looking at a gauge.
The government’s solution to the problem is to throw money at it. Between 2018 and 2027, under its ‘Quality Schools Package’ it will spend a whopping $243.5 billion, plus an extra $5.1 million on science, technology, engineering and maths (known fashionably as STEM).
There is no doubt that this will result in falling standards, embarrassingly low world rankings and general ignorance.
It is clear that Australian children are being been ‘un-educated’ at a terrifying pace and money is clearly not the solution.
The focus of modern education is on vague ‘skills’ and ‘competencies’, whereas 60 or 70 years ago, it was about knowledge and facts. It might be boring to learn your times tables, but you can’t do long division without them. They give you a foundation for the rest of life.
The rejection of knowledge stems from the progressive left, which believes that education makes people less free.
This idea comes from the romantic but completely misguided notion developed by 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who famously announced that ‘man is born free, but is everywhere in chains’ meaning that but institutions like education get in the way of this freedom.
But the opposite is true.
By encouraging young people to read the great books that the Western Canon has given us, by inspiring them to learn about historical events and by teaching them how to read and write, you give them freedom to think for themselves and to undertake real critical thinking.
As a matter of logic, you can’t teach children to think critically unless they have something to think about.
People become inquisitive and begin to think critically when they know things, and they can apply this knowledge in different ways.
Rather than following educational fads as ACARA is proposing, Australia should return to the true purpose of education.
And that means furnishing people with knowledge.
For years, standards and real knowledge have been sacrificed by politically correct ideologues who are more interested in teaching students what to think than how to think.
It is knowledge that gives people the tools to get good jobs and makes them decent citizens.
If the government truly understood this reality, it would be spending $243.5 billion on making sure that students are given real knowledge rather than continuing headlong down this path of unlearning which will be to the detriment of Australian society.