Thursday, March 11, 2021

Roger Childs: History Ideas to Confound and Indoctrinate Our Youngsters

The 4 year old daughter of our neighbours is off to school later in the year. She chatters away about family, friends, scooters, toys, and clothes, but is she ready for ideas like

·Maori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

·Colonisation and its consequences have been central to our history for the past 200 years and continue to influence all aspects of New Zealand society.

·The course of Aotearoa New Zealand history has been shaped by the exercise and effects of power?

All New Zealanders need to be concerned about the slant on New Zealand history that is very likely to be inflicted on our 5 to15 year olds from next year. The proposed new curriculum is now out for comment and you can access it through: Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in our national curriculum – Education in New Zealand

Telling us what was to come

We did have fair warning of what was coming when the prime minister announced in 2019 that New Zealand History would become a compulsory part of the Social Sciences curriculum from 2022. It was stated that there would be seven basic themes:

·The arrival of Māori to Aotearoa

·First encounters and early colonial history of Aotearoa

·Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its history

·Colonisation of, and immigration to, Aotearoa, including the New Zealand Wars

·The evolving national identity in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries

·The role of Aotearoa in the Pacific

·Aotearoa in the late 20th century and the evolution of a national identity with cultural plurality.

I can’t see New Zealand mentioned in the themes apart from some wars.

Historian Paul Moon observed at the time Of course, there are risks that if done poorly, compulsory history in our schools could veer in to the realm of indoctrination.

Warts and all

A few historians, teachers and journalists emphasised that there should be a “warts and all” approach so that students would not just be given a sanitized version of our history. Some people voiced fears that iwi leaders and Maori academics might have too much say in the final shape of the prescription. If this happened, they worried that the final document could have an over-emphasis on the Treaty of Waitangi, the evils of European colonisation, breaches of the Treaty by “the Crown”, the New Zealand Wars and the Waitangi Tribunal.

Would the curriculum developers – half of whom are Maori – include “warts” like:

·the extermination of the moa, Haast’s Eagle and other bird species

·the burning of huge areas of South Island forest by Polynesian settlers

·the devastating inter-tribal wars

·cannibalism and slavery

·the genocide in the Chatham Islands

·the scores of breaches of the Treaty by Maori such as Te Kooti’s massacres at Matawhero and Mohaka

·the destruction of the natural environment by European settlers to create farms, infrastucture and towns

·the long and great depressions

·the Gallipoli disaster.

Any group developing curricula for New Zealand schools, especially history, needs to be mindful that over 80% of the children of the country are non-Maori and that all of the 16% who call themselves Maori, actually have some non-Maori ancestors.

The coverage of our history over 10 years of schooling needs to be comprehensive, accurate, honest and balanced. In looking at our past we New Zealanders have plenty to be proud of, but there have been darker times in our history which students need to know about. It is unthinkable that Irish children would not be taught about the Irish Famine, the Easter Rebellion and the Irish Civil War.

Concerns about the “big ideas”

Each of the three big ideas mentioned at the start of this article, is followed by a paragraph of elaboration and explanation. So is this outline of the detail accurate and balanced?

For starters Maori history is not the foundational and continuous history of our country. There were people in the country when Polynesians first arrived in the 13th century. In New Zealand today the majority of the people are non-Maori and their history has been important in transforming the environment, building a modern economy, constructing infrastructure, expanding the labour force and creating a modern welfare state. Such developments have benefited all ethnic groups.

Colonisation was not designed to …assimilate Maori through dislocation from their lands and replacement of their institutions, economy and tikanga with European equivalents. There was a desire, supported by many chiefs, to end the worst element of tikanga at the time – inter-tribal wars, killing prisoners, cannibalism, abducting women, slavery and female infanticide. Then after the Treaty of Waitangi Governors Grey and Gore Browne offered Maori chiefs wide powers of local government – runanga - under the colonial government and the umbrella of the rule of British law.

Overall colonisation has been hugely beneficial for all New Zealanders - raising living standards; increasing life expectancy; providing education, health and transport services; and introducing modern technology.

The big idea on the exercise and effects of power incudes reference to ways that have led to damage, injustice and conflicts. Is the implication here that the actions of governments and colonial troops adversely affected Maori?

Will 5, 6, 7 year old and older learners understand the big ideas? They would challenge university students.

Maori Studies?

Much of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories in the New Zealand Curriculum is heavily weighted towards Maori origins, development and language. The three “national contexts” are all expressed in Te Reo with no translation. In the Rohe and local contexts section the first statement asks: What stories do local iwi and hapu tell about their history in this rohe? Stories here clearly refer to oral history which can be notoriously unreliable. Of all our ethnicities such history is most important to Maori. In Years 9 and 10 a question is suggested: How have the attacks on Rangiaowhia and Orakau been remembered? Local tribes claim from their oral history that atrocities were committed at Rangiaowhia even though the evidence from the time, backed by two chiefs who visited the town soon after the events, rejects such stories. However it’s not hard to imagine what children will be taught.

In the three inquiry practices the identifying sources and perspectives section requires students to pay deliberate attention to matauranga. Maori sources and approaches. Then throughout the knowledge sections and questions to guide inquiry, Maori examples predominate.

This is not a balanced curriculum and is heavily weighted towards Maori history and an understanding of Maori tikanga, customs and terminology. There seems to be a very strong political agenda in these curriculum proposals which is calculated and dishonest.

Important ideas and structure

Students like to know what they are going to study. As a teacher I would give learners a copy of the prescription because in those days there was a clear outline of the content, important objectives, skills and key terms.

If “big ideas” are to be seen as a basis for the new curriculum, here are some suggestions which also include content coverage. This is not a comprehensive list.

·New Zealand is a nation of immigrants who have arrived at different times.

·The early Pacific Island immigrants were mainly hunters and gatherers who lived as different tribes across the country.

·The tribes were often at war with one another and practiced cannibalism and slavery.

·James Cook and other European explorers made the existence and resources of New Zealand known to the world.

·The 1800 - 1840 musket wars between the native tribes dramatically reduced their population.

·There was no united New Zealand nation before 1840.

·The British reluctantly took on New Zealand as a colony and made a treaty with the native peoples and settlers which was as far-sighted as any in human history.

·There was conflict between the government and a minority of northern and central North Island Maori tribes in the 1840s and 1860s.

·More Maori supported the government in these campaigns than opposed them.

·British and other settlers transformed the landscape and economy to develop farms, industries, infrastructure, towns and cities.

·Gold rushes and immigration schemes increased the country’s population.

·The Liberal government from 1891 passed a range of laws making New Zealand a fairer society.

·A welfare state was started by the Liberals, expanded by the Labour governments from 1935 on and added to by governments after World War Two.

·Two Depressions and World Wars affected all New Zealanders.

·Maori New Zealanders generally benefited greatly for colonization but there have been social problems and economic disparities.

·All ethnic groups have provided inspirational leaders who have contributed to the development of national identity and the reputation of the country.

·Rural – urban drift after World War Two saw thousands of Maori move to the cities.

·Pacific Island and Asian peoples immigrated in large numbers from the 1960s on, enriching New Zealand’s culture and making a significant contribution to the economy.

·New Zealand has had an on-going close relationship with Pacific countries and the wider world involving diplomacy, alliances, military action, trade, sporting and cultural activities, foreign aid and accepting refugees.

What can be done?

If these curriculum proposals become the structure for what future 5-15 children are taught in our schools, the outcome will be a blatant exercise in indoctrination and social engineering. The vast majority of these children are non-Maori and, although the history of the Maori experience over hundreds of years has its place, it should not dominate the coverage of New Zealand history that is taught and learnt.

It is vital that as many people as possible send in submissions to make it plain to the Ministry of Education that what is currently proposed for the Years 1-10 History Curriculum is distorted, unbalanced and unacceptable.

Roger Childs is a retired teacher who taught History, Social Studies and Geography for 40 years.


TOny Noble said...

All good sense. Appreciate the gentle and reasonable tone.

From an academic perspective, the really fascinating analysis just how a very small group of those identifying as Maori are succeeding in taking sufficient power to fundamentally change New Zealand’s liberal democracy where all races and creeds are equal under the law.

Societal change is never linear. Wide divisions within a liberal democracy lead to instability and threats to the greater good. Finding constructive ways to ‘grow the middle’ promotes stability. Bootstrapping Maori could arguably have a dramatic impact in reducing the disproportionate drain on the taxpayer from Maori in terms of prison, health and welfare costs.

Because we have no constitution, Parliament rules. Right now, legislation is passing which will result in a major shift in power to Maori. If, which is almost inevitable, a majority of voters don’t want all the outcomes of such a power shift, then a new Government will wind those changes back. This will play out over the next ten to 20 years. Hopefully some good will result and Maori will cease being a net drain on our economy and our social unity and become a net contributor.

Sir Bob Jones said in a recent blog that he quite likes Labour Governments because that is the only time real change talked place. He identifies Covid and Jacinda as the drivers of a stand-alone Labour Government with the majority to write any law it wants. He forecasts a National/Act coalition winning the next election. Sir Bob doesn’t take a position on what that will mean, but I imagine that the direction will be to unwind the radical Maori separatist agenda....and the first moves will be to stop funding the many troughs that fuel the separatist agenda.

DeeM said...

75% of all submissions made on the Electoral Bill to remove petition rights against Maori wards were against the new legislation. It was passed anyway.
I expect the exact same thing with the Climate Change Commission's draft report. The ridiculous and uncosted recommendations will be adopted in their entirety.
The exact same thing will happen with the proposed Woke NZ History Curriculum.
Public submissions are there so the public THINK they are having a say. The matter has already been decided in advance and nothing, short of a massive revolt, will sway this authoritarian and undemocratic government from enacting its left-wing, divisive agenda. Team of 5 million, yeah right!!

Phil said...

I saw a link this week to the Government's Vision 2040 he puapua working group report. This is a roadmap towards establish a system of co-governance in time for the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty. It was interesting to see what has been recommended and done so far. Promotion of language through state media, compulsory teaching of language in schools, history syllabus, representation on councils, take over Oranga Tamariki etc It also talks about self determination and refers to what this might encompass ranging from full independence to participation in Government. We have a mind blowing change going on in our country which the Government is pushing through with stealth and not talked about in the main stream media.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up Phil - are you able to provide details on how we can find the report? A link perhaps? It sounds extremely worrying. Muriel

Phil said...

Hi Muriel,

Here is the link. You may have come across this before, interesting to see what has already been introduced by the Government.

DeeM said...

Wow Phil, thanks for making us aware of this report. There it is in black and white with Mahuta's name at the top. A roadmap for Maori to achieve 50:50 share of power by 2040 and all that goes with it. In fact, the way the report is worded it seems to be a one-way street with Maori able to choose just how much they want of everything - negotiation doesn't get mentioned.
Trouble is they only represent 15% of the population. That would deeply trouble anyone who believes in democracy and is concerned about fairness. Luckily our government are not troubled by either of these concepts.
Strange how the media have never picked up on this report - well, not to my knowledge anyway. Keep it well under the radar for as long as possible just in case the majority get all "racist" about it.

Henry said...

A few years ago I wrote letters to the editor responding to a couple of news articles about monuments and how colonisation was bad for everyone. These are pertinent to the discussion about an accurate New Zealand history being taught in schools.
In this regard, we have much to learn from Monty Pythons Life of Brian where a group plots to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Imperialistic Roman State. To paraphrase (and with a few literary liberties):
“What have Pakeha ever done for us – absolutely nothing!” After several what about statements the aggrieved finally concedes “All right, apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, fresh water systems, hospitals, a written language, what have the Pakeha ever done for us?” “Well, they stopped cannibalism and slavery and brought law and order and peace from the Musket Wars.” The chief plotter replies “Peace – oh shut up!” and the plotting continues.
Unfortunately, most things I hear and read are negative regarding colonisation, with little regard to pre-colonial conditions, or any of the subsequent benefits. Attempts to question viewpoints, or to try and discuss alternative interpretations, are effectively meet with “Shut up.” Until we are willing to have a two way dialog, where pros and cons are openly debated, we will not make much progress addressing some of the problems New Zealand has.

Empathic said...

In this proposed curriculum what exactly is intended to be taught and not taught? I don't have the stomach to trawl through it all myself but if anyone is willing to provide a more detailed summary in addition to the 'big ideas' and headings, I would be very grateful.

John Hurley said...

·Pacific Island and Asian peoples immigrated in large numbers from the 1960s on, enriching New Zealand’s culture and making a significant contribution to the economy.
I would put a different slant on that and that is that it is what has lead to Brexit & Trump. In the West we try to create ethnicless societies and that these are unstable because people need more in common than anything civic values can dream up.

This is all (unhinged) Critical Theory based.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Phil - and yes, like you say, it is very concerning to see the rapid progress that is being made. We really appreciate you alerting us to the report.

Don said...

I am a retired secondary teacher with 50 years service.I see a ray of hope in this sorry situation and it comes from the children themselves. Over-exposure to things Maori and they will be bored with the whole subject. My grand-children attended primary school in an area with a high Maori attendance where the day began and ended with karakia and was frequently disrupted with waiata, haka etc. Now in their 30s they show no interest in things Maori and consider the subject boring. Teachers may be disgruntled to find how little their efforts may affect the attitudes of their pupils in later life. If we can teach them to think for themselves they will avoid manipulation and seek the truth for themselves.
The chances of the new curriculum being accurate and truthful may be slim but the hope is that we can guide pupils to recognise and question misleading information.

DeeM said...

Well said Don. I hope you're right. My kids go to a very modern high school which this year has renamed every course in Maori. The kids and parents, and yes some of the teachers, have very little idea what the names mean. There is no Maori word for Calculus, Chemistry, Physics etc etc. My kids and all their friends make fun of it and I get the impression this is pretty common.
Forcing people to adopt a culture and language which is not theirs is very rarely successful and can often lead to a backlash against the group promoting it.
This government seem to think that just because you tell people they should do something that they will blindly obey. Luckily, most people think for themselves and are principally influenced by family and friends.
The current woke socialist experiment NZ is being subjected to will likely prove very racially divisive in the long term.

Unknown said...

"Colonialism". When will it end? Was the election by a completely enfranchised population in 1936 the end of colonialisation? Or was it when the British troops were withdrawn in 1871? Choose a date.

Anonymous said...

"There were people in the country when Polynesians first arrived in the 13th century."
This is a proposition that has no support from archaeology, linguisitics or genetics. It makes no difference to the author's other arguments and only serves to cast doubt on the reliability of his other assertions.