Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kevin Donnelly: History curriculum sacrifices Western values at the altar of political correctness

Most of the debate about Julia Gillard's national crusade in education centres on school funding and how the government intends to respond to the report chaired by Sydney businessman David Gonski. The existing model expires at the end of the year and the government is scrambling to decide on an alternative by the April meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Just as important as funding is the government's national curriculum, especially the history syllabus, that is being forced on our schools.

In a speech delivered earlier this year commemorating the life of Paul Hasluck, John Howard criticised the history curriculum for ignoring the fact that "Australia is part of Western civilisation; in the process it further marginalises the historic influence of the Judeo-Christian ethic in shaping Australian society and virtually purges British history from any meaningful role".

The day after Howard's speech, the Prime Minister's appointee to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority mounted the barricades rejecting the claim of bias. Chairman Barry McGaw argues that the new history curriculum "does not prejudice our Western and Judeo-Christian heritage. Their influences on Australian culture and our legal and political systems are clearly dealt with". He is incorrect. On reading the curriculum, it is obvious those responsible are hostile towards the institutions, beliefs and grand narrative associated with Western civilisation that make this nation unique.

While Australia's culture and society have evolved over the years, our language, way of life and political and legal institutions have been inherited primarily from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

It's also the case that European migrants constitute a significant influence on the Australian character, and given that the proposed curriculum fails to give students a solid grounding in the art, music, science, culture and history of Europe, they will leave school educationally impoverished.

The fact that the only perspectives through which every subject, including history, must be taught are indigenous, Asian and environmental reveals an ideological slant.

At every year level and with the overwhelming number of topics and areas of study, teachers must incorporate "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures". The same cannot be said for Australia's Western, Judeo-Christian heritage and tradition.

Add the fact that students must be taught "intercultural understanding", with its focus on diversity and difference, and are told to value their own cultures and the cultures, languages and beliefs of others, and it's clear that the underlying philosophy is cultural relativism.

When uniquely Australian celebrations and events are mentioned, they are treated as simply one among many. Anzac Day appears alongside NAIDOC week, Ramadan and Buddha Day.

At Year 3, important celebrations like Christmas Day and Bastille Day are listed, but again, these uniquely European events are given the same significance as cultural-left favourites such as Harmony Day, National Reconciliation Week and National Sorry Day.

Christianity is mentioned a couple of times but its significance is diminished by treating it as one religion among many, alongside Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam.

After an earlier draft was criticised for not mentioning the Magna Carta, there is now mention of that seminal document as well as the Westminster system of government and concepts such as the separation of powers.

The urge to congratulate those responsible for the addition disappears, though, on reading the suggested topics students are asked to study, including denying citizenship to indigenous Australians, the Stolen Generations, discrimination against women, assimilation policies, mandatory detention and abuse of children in "orphanages, homes and other institutions".

Further evidence of the cultural Left's stranglehold on the curriculum is at Year 10, under the heading "rights and freedoms since 1918", where the usual politically correct favourites are listed, including women's movements, the civil rights movement in the US and the fight for indigenous rights in Australia.

Absent, notwithstanding the imperative to include an Asian perspective, is any mention of the millions killed under totalitarian communist regimes at the hands of Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh.

In its treatment of political movements, while capitalism, socialism, nationalism, imperialism, Darwinism and Chartism are listed, ignored are classical liberalism and conservatism.

The curriculum's other major flaw is that much of what should be compulsory is voluntary.

At Year 7, students must choose between studying ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome. At Year 9, students only need to study one of the following: the Ottoman Empire, Renaissance Italy, the Vikings or medieval Europe.

The fact that students can experience 10 years of compulsory schooling without encountering Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, works of art such as the Sistine Chapel or major movements in Renaissance science, medicine and political philosophy will leave them culturally adrift.

The overwhelming sense one is left with is that those responsible champion the worst aspects of what currently passes as an education. Everything must be taught through a PC prism: it's wrong to discriminate and make judgments of relative worth (except in relation to gender, ethnicity, class, multiculturalism and the environment) and learning must be inquiry-based and centred on the world of the child.

Ignored is that a pluralist society can only survive and prosper if its citizens have been taught those values, concepts, ideas and body of knowledge on which respect for and acceptance of diversity and difference are based.

What the US Declaration of Independence describes as the unalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" do not arise spontaneously, by accident or in a cultural vacuum.

The fundamental tenets of freedom and democracy that we take for granted are grounded in the history of Western civilisation and the debt owed to Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Such should be the basis of any worthwhile history curriculum.


Anonymous said...

Antonio Gramsci is one of the many disreputable Communists enshrined as intellectual icons by the academic Left.

Gramsci, the theoretician of Italian Communism, was imprisoned by Mussolini in the 1920s. This gave him plenty of time to theorise about why violent Communist revolutions hadn't taken place in the advanced capitalist countries where Marx had predicted they would occur first.

Gramsci's answer was that the capitalist ruling class controlled the social discourse, meaning the "subordinate classes" (Gramsci widened this from Marx's "the workers" to include women, ethnic minorities, alternative sexualities) remained unaware of their own class oppressions.

For Gramsci, a revolution thus had to happen first on the level of consciousness. A body of Marxist intellectuals would take over the academy to use it as a factory for ideological reproduction. These intellectuals would ideally come from the "subordinate classes” but might also include those from the "dominant classes" who could be induced to switch sides.

Graduates of this indoctrination programme would then go forth from the academy as “agents of social change” to colonise the "autonomous social institutions" that shape society's governing ideas, thus changing society from within.

Anonymous said...

Meet the Frankfurt School, a group of predominately Jewish Marxists, who formed a Gramscian Marxist think tank at Frankfurt University in the late 1920s. With the rise to power of Hitler in the early 1930s, the Frankfurt School relocated to America, initially embedding itself at Columbia and Brandeis Universities.

The Frankfurt School patented the concept of “critical theory” – an essentially destructive criticism of Western society and culture – designed to inculcate students with “cultural pessimism” towards Judeo-Christian culture.

Frankfurt School academics helped their students to understand that the major social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology, were not neutral and impartial. They were instead instruments of race, gender and class oppression.

These views are now considered "mainstream" in the Western academy.

By the early 1970s, the Communists who began their takeover of our universities in the 1930s had achieved critical mass in many departments, particularly those specialising in the study of society. Their growing dominance on faculty hiring committees allowed them to exclude anyone not sharing (or at least sympathetic to) their views.

As a result, several decades of Western university students have been subjected to mass-scale academic brainwashing by disciples of Gramsci who have embedded themselves in the academy with the express purpose of using it as a transmission belt for Communist ideology into wider society.

Most graduates of this indoctrination programme are not Communists. A handful of Communist converts derives a sense of superiority from knowing they are manipulating the situation. The vast majority of those pushing leftist doctrines into our social discourse are not “Reds” but fellow-travelling “Pinks,” once referred to by Lenin as “useful idiots.”

Those in this group were absolutely convinced they are an intellectual elite. How did they know this to be true? They were constantly told by their Marxist professors they were clever and enlightened for accepting the programming.

Students were told they were learning “progressive” new ideas, not Marxism. They were indoctrinated with all the principles of Marxism without the label. If you told them they were Marxists or Communists, they’d respond with a pitying smile, eye-rolling, and accuse you of “seeing Reds under the bed.”

Having internalised the system of values upon which their membership of “Club Virtue” depends most university graduates over the last thirty years display a strong emotional resistance to having it questioned. If you disagree with them you are racist, sexist, fascist, misogynist or just plain stupid. Rational discourse with Lenin’s “useful idiots” is impossible.

After graduating, these “useful idiots” slithered forth from the academy into the media, education system, trade unions, Labour Party, entertainment industry, churches and other social institutions, and consciously or unconsciously, embarked on their pre-programmed transformational project. As a result, the political centre of gravity has moved steadily leftward over several generations. This is clearly no accident.

Anonymous said...

US political columnist Joe Sobran uses the metaphor of a hive of bees, united by a kind of “group mind,” to describe the informal body of leftist opinion dedicated to subverting our Judeo-Christian culture. There’s no central direction as such, but the bees can sense an enemy, and know when to attack.

Sobran says, “To become a bee in this hive is to surrender, voluntarily and eagerly, your own personality: to submerge the self in a collectivity; to prefer the buzzing cliché of the group to individual thought and expression; to take satisfaction in belonging and conforming to a powerful mass while punishing others for failure to conform ... The similarity to an insect colony - where the individual exists only functionally, being both indistinguishable from and interchangeable with its fellows - is not superficial, it is of the essence. To be an insect is to be relieved of the burden of having a soul of your own.”

Political scientist Eric Hoffer is another who provides a penetrating insight into the collectivist mentality. Hoffer saw that mass-movements are an outlet for people whose individual significance is small in the eyes of the world and - more importantly - in their own eyes. He pointed out that the leaders of the Nazi movement were men whose artistic and intellectual aspirations were wholly frustrated, as were the Bolshevik leaders.

Those drawn to collectivist ideologies are invariably people with a pressing need for self-inflation and ego-boosting, generally in the absence of any real claims in that direction. As Hoffer makes clear: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are unlikely to be attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

Our problem is that the leftists who have colonised the West’s educational establishment at all levels, in their search for personal stature and meaning, do incalculable damage to our society in the process.

Meanwhile, the Marxists who set this process in motion gloat and snigger to themselves.

Anonymous said...

These people have ZERO commitment to disinterested teaching and impartial, balanced treatment of their subject matter.

Since all teaching is ideological (they believe), and this is a process we can control, it should be our ideology which is reinforced, not that of the 'enemy.'

It was the Enlightenment Tradition of academic pluralism which allowed these people into the Academy in this first place, whereupon they took full advantage of the latitude they were given to close everyone else down.

Marxists are like cockroaches and should be treated the same way: mercilessly stamped on wherever they are found!