Changing history


As the national curriculum is set for review, migrant history may not make it past the chopping block.

Migrant history and multiculturalism might be reduced or cut in the national curriculum as the Abbott government seeks to review the program.
The government hopes to clear the way for reforms that could expunge parts of the history syllabus, which Prime Minster Tony Abbott has blasted for favouring leftist views.
The current national curriculum includes quite an extensive exploration of migration and Australia’s multicultural history, and much of the syllabus aims to create intercultural understanding amongst students.
Multicultural history in Australia is taught over six years in the history syllabus, including examining the role people of diverse backgrounds have played in the development and character of a local community, early migration and democracy and citizenship in Australia.
In year seven, students can also take an elective to study ancient Greece and the Mediterranean.
The first stage of the national curriculum introduced in 2011 after two years of consulting. The ACT was the first state to implement the curriculum, and other states have followed to become national curriculum compliant. The curriculum was an initiative the then Gillard Government hoped would centralise education and increase literacy and numeracy test results in the country that have been falling for the past decade. She hoped to include three themes in the curriculum, sustainability, indigenous affairs and Asia.
Many states still haven’t introduced the national curriculum in the syllabus yet, with many hoping to introduce when schools start late January, prompting eachers to argue the review is premature.
Only Mathematics, English, History, Science and Geography are ready to be implemented, while the rest of the curriculum is still being developed. The language program that includes Modern Greek is still being developed and is predicted to be ready in May.
A group of 150 professors, lecturers, teachers and principals have signed an open and highly critical letter to Education Minister Christopher Pyne expressing their concerns about the timing and design of the review announced on Friday.
Minister Pyne wants to see a “balanced” curriculum and says he will implement the suggestions of the review panel when they submit the final report in July 31.
“The review will evaluate the robustness, independence and balance of the Australian Curriculum by looking at both the development process and content,” he says.
Federal president of the Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos has slammed the review, saying Minister Pyne is “playing politics with the education of Australian children”.
‘The last thing any Australian parent is going to want is for politicians to be deciding which bits of our country’s history their children should learn about, and which bits they shouldn’t,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
For teachers about to start the school year, some teaching from the national curriculum for the first time, the review will be weighing heavily on their minds.
If all recommendations are taken on board and the curriculum changes, many students might be feeling like half the year was a waste.
“Teachers put a great deal of time and effort into preparing class plans, resources and activities,” Mr Gavrielatos says.
“If Mr Pyne takes the whole thing back to the drawing board, there’s no doubt this will have implications for teachers and students when any changes are introduced.”
Minister Pyne has picked Professor Ken Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly, both vocal critics of the national curriculum to man the review.
Dr Donnelly has previously sited the state curriculums teach ”a politically correct, black-armband view” of the world.
In their letter, more than 150 signatories questioned the credibility and expertise of the two-man panel, saying “we are concerned about whether the panel members will hold the requisite openness to diverse views and perspectives required to produce a balanced and fair review”.
Minister Pyne has voiced he will welcome diverse submissions to the review.

source: Neos Kosmos

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