Julie Bishop made a speech
on 'history' rather than education.
It is typical 'state of emergency' language which is often used to centralise and over-ride existing authority and responsibility. State of emergencies commonly use a single instance of often perceived weakness and use that to advocate taking over the whole kit and kaboodle;
The failure of State Governments to protect the interests of young Australians from trendy educational fads has led to the community turning to the Federal Government to take action.
The serious question needs to be asked whether it is time for a common model curriculum across the country. I think this is a debate that we must have. Let's open the lid on what is being taught in our schools, and how, and have a debate on what could be taught and why.
A common model curriculum would (by virtue of being on the national stage) result in curriculum being made more accountable through greater public scrutiny at the bar of public opinion. This would result in model parents having greater confidence in what is, or is not, being taught in schools across the nation.
Bishop is arguing that history teaching is in decay and this is the excuse to take over the curriculum for all education from the states. History is far more important to conservatives than liberals as conservatives see it as an intrinsic property of the polity, nation and individual. Without history to nourish the individual they are uprooted from their society, community, nation and government.
The republican, progressive and liberal reading of history is that it is an important empirical tool but is an emergent property of society and culture rather than an intrinsic one.
Bishop's argument is weak and has little merit. It is typical of anti-federalist behaviour where it appropriates policy and regulation at the federal level, and then dictates those policies down to the states which have to fund and implement those policies. This is an unhealthy reduction of state power.
If history is in decline it can be rejuvenated at the state level.
Andrew Norton has a better argument in which curriculum is completely decentralised
. I would be comfortable with that. There is not only greater choice in complete decentralisation, there is also greater strength in increasing diversity.
x-posted at polemica
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