"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Monday, March 1, 2010

Schools - Global Warming IN - Shakespeare OUT

The Age reports on a Back to Basics approach to Australian education where Global Warming and Dreamtime are taught and Shakespeare is out - Hamlet gives way to Aboriginal folk-lore. Somehow my education missed out on "the algebra of story-telling" and the the significance of Sorry Day when the Australian Government apologised for removing children from abusive families.  I believe Australians have a culture of our own which has defined our nationhood and this should be taught in schools not some politically correct mumbo-jumbo.


AUSTRALIA'S national school curriculum will return history, grammar, literature and phonetics to the classroom, in what Prime Minister Kevin Rudd describes as a ''back to basics'' approach to education.
However, it will also place Aboriginal and Asian ways of seeing the world into almost every subject.
The draft national curriculum for maths, science, English and history for years prep to 10 is less repetitive, more traditional and shorter than the current model in most states. The year 3 maths curriculum is just one page long.
The draft's author, Professor Barry McGaw, said yesterday that it was designed to be world class.
The states have agreed to introduce the new national curriculum, which will be be officially released tomorrow, for three months' consultation.
Proposals for years 11 and 12 are to be released in April.
Education Minister Julia Gillard hopes that from 2013 all Australian children will be taught from the same plan, saving the 80,000 students who move interstate each year from the culture shock of radically different education systems.
Mr Rudd said the objective was, ''without apology, to get back to the absolute basics on spelling, on sounding out letters, on counting, on adding up, on taking away.
''The basics that I was taught when I was at primary school a long time ago, and that's what our national curriculum is all about.'' he said.
Ms Gillard added: ''With those basic skills then the world of wider learning is open to them.''
But Professor McGaw disagreed, saying: ''It's not back to basics.
''I don't like back to basics, because it implies you're only focusing on initial performance … we need a curriculum that builds the basics, but also extends students, hence the emphasis on literature,'' said the government-appointed chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
''Those who worry about whether students will be taught to read will be satisfied … Those who are concerned about whether students will understand grammar will find material in here. Those who worry about whether students will be able to read complex stories, complex prose, will be satisfied.''
The draft puts a new emphasis on Australia's geography, by introducing Asian texts and Aboriginal examples into the classroom across all subjects.
Professor McGaw hopes it will satisfy those on both sides of the history and reading wars.
''We've got a couple of millennia of understanding the world in certain ways - historical, scientific and so on - and there's no way a small group in Australia is going to overturn it in three months,'' he said.
But Institute of Public Affairs director John Roskam disagreed, saying ''the problem is going to be the political content, the historical content''.
''It certainly does look like aspects of the curriculum have been captured by particular lobby groups. Whether it's appropriate for children in primary school to be looking at Sorry Day is questionable.''
In English, grammar will be taught from the beginning and reading and writing will be taught using phonics (letter-sound relations). Texts of ''enduring or artistic value'' will be studied in literature.
The curriculum will emphasise the ''three L's'' of literacy, language and literature.
Texts could come from other cultures and traditions, and ''fluent and legible'' handwriting will also be taught.
It will be the first time in decades in some states that history makes an appearance as a separate subject in large numbers of classrooms.
Ms Gillard emphasised that dates would be taught, and Professor McGaw said Australian history would contain Aboriginal and settler perspectives.
''This is neither black armband nor white blindfold. This is a balanced view of history,'' he said.
Aboriginal history will be taught from year three, including the significance of Sorry Day and the Aboriginal flag. In year four, in addition to learning about early explorers and the arrival of the First Fleet, students will be taught about the beliefs and languages of Aboriginal people and the significance of Dreamtime stories.
In high school, key historical events such as World War I and Gallipoli will remain a focal point, but for the first time a strong emphasis on Asian history will be introduced, reflecting Australia's growing ties with the region.
The maths curriculum aims to persuade students of the ''elegance and power'' of mathematical reasoning.
Aboriginal perceptions of time and weather patterns, family relationships and the ''algebra of storytelling'' are also included

1 comment:

  1. The Stolen Generation didn't have abusive families - the Australian Government did the wrong thing, even if they thought it was right. That decision has scarred the lives of thousands of Australians and you are 'blindly following' those who say it was the right thing to do.

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