There are lots of ways to assess a civilisation, but there is no denying that the one we live in here in Australia is the most successful so far as economic prosperity and personal freedom are concerned. We in the West have also done quite a bit to uncover the nature of scientific truth (e.g. how do we know that our bodies are made up of trillions of cells? btw what’s a cell and how do we know?) which has led to Western medicines being the standard across the world. We have also had our disasters, such as the incubation of Marxist/Socialist thought which continues to ruin many nations, and remains a predator even within our own societies, threatening to plunge us into some new form of feudal serfdom. Speaking of which, just what is “feudal serfdom”? Not sure we are up to teaching it any longer. Not sure anyone any longer knows much about history. Many of the same people who now teach our children about Nazis also think Donald Trump was a Nazi. How do we deal with such fools in such strategic places in our society?
There is an idiocy about that suggests that Western Civilisation was built on plunder and the subjugation of others. I don’t see it that way, but some do. Nevertheless, at the present moment, our way of life seems about as good as it gets across the planet. Global migration are efforts to enter our societies, not to leave them. Which brings me to How the West was airbrushed from history by Nick Cater in today’s Oz. He begins:
The proposed revisions to the national curriculum do less than we might have hoped to banish the scourge of woolly thinking from the classroom.
Spare a thought for the teachers who are expected to navigate their way through this murky document to work out what they should be teaching. Or, indeed, whether they should be teaching at all, since the verb “to teach” hardly appears in the draft curriculum.
Numeracy is not so much to be taught as absorbed by giving students “opportunities to build and refine a robust knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts”. Children should not be instructed to read but rather encouraged “to engage with, analyse, interpret, evaluate and create spoken, print, visual and multimodal texts”.
The muddled approach to literacy is matched by a downgrading of the English language itself. The first thing foundation students are expected to learn is that “English is one of many languages spoken in Australia” and should be taught alongside the “oral narrative” traditions of Australia’s First Nations peoples and Asian texts.
This pained effort to be inclusive means the curriculum hesitates to prioritise anything at all. Among the dozens of things about language children are supposed to absorb by the end of Year 3, for example, are the power relationships reflected in camera angles in advertisements and film segments. They must understand the phoneme–grapheme relationships that apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language words. The requirement to write using “joined-up letters of consistent size” is number 33 on the list.
The March Through the Institutions has been a march of folly. A “teacher” who has never read Shakespeare or any of our classic literature, who knows nothing of our history or the stages through which we progressed, who understands little of our philosophical origins in our Biblical traditions, is about as ignorant as it is possible to be. We pass on idiotic nonsense about equity and equality without the slightest notion of how loaves of bread reliably end up in our bakeries every morning (along with iPhones and central heating). We teach our students about plastic in the ocean, while never explaining how plastic is made (I once asked each of my classes one year, around 300 students, where plastic came from and not one knew!).
I hope somewhere in this teaching mess the 3R’s are still around.