Friday, July 07, 2006

Beazley vs Education

Kim, ex Oxbridge geek, sniffs votes in the anti-intellectual kneejerk vote:
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.

(Hat tip LP)

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.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I understand either. Teaching History from the early years until as far along as possible seems like a good idea.

Although perhaps its the proposed national control over the curriculum that has more got the Labor leaders' goat...

Don Quixote said...

I must admit, when I hear the phraseology "traditional Australian" attached to history, I immediately think of the Andrew Bolt version of history; you know, the one where the stolen generation becomes so stolen that they don't appear on history's pages.

But that doesn't sound like what Beazley is talking about. In fact, any time anyone, left or right, uses the term "elite" with reference to education they should have rotten fruit thrown at them.

When did high expectations of our education system become a bad thing?

Boysenberry said...

I must admit, when I heard Beazley effectively pushing History to one side, it concerned me no end. If we can't look at history and learn it's lessons, don't we condemn ourselves to repeating the same failures?

James said...

Sounds like Beazley has just caught himself out yet again. His 'focus on trades' argument makes no sense to me unless he got swept up in whatever other political message of the day he was trying to convey. Unfortunately the guy (in my opinion) is just a career politician with no idealogy of his own to justify his thoughts on any issue.

That said I think the liberal government is in this to promote their 'whitewashed' version of history. An interesting issue it would seem especially with Johns (maybe) soon to be retirement, I don't think he'll be historically judged favourably and he probably knows it.

B. S. Fairman said...

If we are to teach the history of Australia, where should the main focus be: Pre-European Australia and Explorers, First Fleet and Convicts, Gold and the Eureka Stockade, The rise of the workers movement, Federation, The World Wars? The glory of the British Empire?

Trying to condense 225 years of written history into a few lessons is a hard thing to do. If it just about learning dates and names then the time might be better spent at school learning to read and write and add up (Three R's).
Every second day another interest group demands that kids should be taught another subject of "great importance".

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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