Kim Beazley has dismissed the push by federal Education Minister Julie Bishop to reinstate the teaching of traditional Australian history in schools as an "elite preoccupation". The Opposition Leader insisted that the plan, revealed in The Australian yesterday, was part of a trend by the Government "to talk about anything other than those things which matter most". "Fundamentally, what we need now from our education ministers is a focus on trades - encouraging young men and women into trades," he said.
First, why does this have to conflict with a rounded education? Why can't all kids get a broad education then opt for a trade if that's where their skills are?Second, is he effectively saying working class kids don't deserve an education in core academic disciplines?
Third, is Labor deliberately positioning the Liberals as the 'Education Party' for the next election, with Labor the party dedicated to pumping out productive little units for industry?
Fourth, does he think that a more educated population would not be a more tolerant and left-leaning population? I remember polling from the last election that suggests otherwise.
Fifth, if the issue is concern with historical 'whitewashing' then say that.
Personally I'm quite happy with all the politics from both sides being stripped out of high school level history studies. I believe a comprehensive understanding of history gives people the tools to put current events in context. I think it might give people more civic pride, as Howard wants, but even with Windshuttle in charge of the curriculum you couldn't get around the fact that our occupation of this land was not consensual, and the fact that all non-aboriginals are descended from either crooks or immigrants.
This is a disturbing development. Education is a plenary issue, so Beazley better work out whether he's with it or against it.