Education is never just about conveying facts to the next generation, but it also includes the worldviews and frameworks in which those facts are understood and interpreted. There will, therefore, always be debate about what is taught to our nation's children, and governments of different political persuasion will want to see different things emphasised in the curriculum.
On 10 January 2014, the Minister for Education (Hon Christopher Pyne) announced - in accordance with a Coalition pre-election commitment - a review of the Australian Curriculum. Mr Pyne said, "The review will evaluate the robustness, independence, and balance of the Australian Curriculum by looking at both the development process and content." The Coalition - and conservative-minded academics and educators - had been increasingly concerned that some aspects of the standardised national curriculum were too heavily weighted towards a so-called 'progressive' worldview.
Mr Pyne appointed Professor Ken Wiltshire [J D Storey Professor of Public Administration, Leader of Not-for-Profit Unit of the University of Queensland Business School, and former chair of the Review of the Queensland School Curriculum] and Dr Kevin Donnelly [Executive Director of the Education Standards Institute, Senior Research Fellow at Australian Catholic University, and a former secondary school English teacher for eighteen years] to conduct the Australian Curriculum Review. Both men have previously expressed concern with aspects of the national curriculum, and their appointment was immediately criticised by the Australian Education Union, by some senior educators, and by some sections of the media.
However, it would seem that there could be a measure of legitimate concern about some aspects of the national curriculum. The curriculum highlights three areas - indigenous heritage, Asian influences, and environmental sustainability - that are to be woven into all subjects as undergirding all educational content. There is very little about our Western heritage, which has had a far greater impact on the development of modern Australia, and there is almost nothing on the Judeo-Christian foundations that shaped Western civilisation. Christianity is hardly mentioned, except in a fairly negative light, and there is no recognition of Christianity's positive contribution to literature, the arts, science, healthcare, education, the development of human rights and freedoms, and every other benefit enjoyed in Western society. Students could complete twelve years of schooling under the current national curriculum and graduate with absolutely no awareness that Western civilisation is founded on Judeo-Christian principles and values. They would know a lot about Aboriginal legends, Asia, and caring for the environment and preventing climate change, but would not understand that the freedoms and prosperity that we enjoy as a nation flow out of worldview that is based upon Christianity.
Points that ought to be made to the review (and to Mr Pyne) are -
- Restore a focus on our Australian heritage derived from Western civilisation, which is based on the Judeo-Christian tradition;
- Explore Christianity's positive contributions to literature, the arts, science, education, the development of human rights and freedoms, and so on;
- Make mention of the Christian beliefs of significant individuals in history when considering their accomplishments and contributions;
- Recognise that Christianity has had a far greater impact on shaping Western society than any other religion [It is only those who hold to no religion who claim that all religions are of the same value and significance.];
- Include the study of the Bible as a part of literature (even prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins say that the Bible ought to be taught in schools as a literary document that has influenced much of Western literature);
- Remove the inappropriate comprehensive sex education, which is presented without any moral framework, as a purely biological function, and inclusive of all sexual expressions;
- Reject the "stamping out homophobia" anti-bullying programs, which, in fact, are a promotion of the homosexual lifestyle;
- Respect parental rights in all matters, particularly the right to withdraw their children from any instruction that they deem inappropriate;
Public submissions to the review close on Friday 14 March, so, if you are reading this before then, go online to the Department of Education - Review of Australian Curriculum [http://www.submissions.deewr.gov.au/Forms/Australian Curriculum] and write some comments. If you miss this opportunity, contact Hon Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education [PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600, or call (02) 62777350, or email C.Pyne.MP@aph.gov.au] to urge him to implement these changes to the Australian Curriculum when the matter comes before him for consideration.
This Analysis has thankfully been prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson: Pastor.Brian@CoralCoastChurch.org (PO Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670)