Since I took up studying teaching, all that half-silly/half-sinister commentary that happens from time to time alleging Australia’s school children are having their brains filled with left-wing propaganda – especially when it comes to history – has become a bit more directly relevant for me. Although it’s pretty clear that fact-free fumigating by some random politician – even a random Education Minister – has little direct effect on what is taught in classrooms, it does have its effect on what some adults think is taught in schools, and on public conceptualisations of history (especially if they didn’t get a decent history education).
Sometimes the arch-conservatives who assert a left-wing bias to history teaching assert that all would be fine if we just stuck to the facts. I’m fully in favour of teaching and learning being centred on facts. The problem for those arch-conservatives is they don’t like some of the facts that get revealed when students are encouraged to go looking for them.
John Menadue has posted a piece on his blog in the lead up to Anzac Day, supporting more honest history – which I’d say means more facts, less fact-free rhetoric. The notion, asserted by the current Education Minster amongst others, that there isn’t enough emphasis on the ANZACs at Gallipoli in the current national curriculum is the sort of blatantly wrong statement that would get a student a big fat F (or at least a ‘must try harder’) on their report card.
Meanwhile, there are many other facts in the history of war in Australia which get very little mention. Menadue’s piece gives a good insight into some them, including the role of Australians in the Maori wars, which I hadn’t previously been aware of.
You can read it here – http://johnmenadue.com/blog/?p=816