In her speech to the History Teachers Association today, Education Minister Julie Bishop raises the spectre of “ideologues” who have “hijacked school curriculum and are experimenting with the education of our young people from a comfortable position of unaccountability”.

So who exactly are these ideologues?  

Crikey asked Kevin Donnelly, education commentator for The Australian and a well-known critic of the education system. He says that he will be exploring this issue in an upcoming book, Dumbing Down: the impact of the Culture Wars on our schools, but reeled off a few of the “main perpetrators”:

The Australian Education Union

Australian Curriculum Studies Association

Australian Council of Deans of Education

Australian Association for the Teaching of English

These groups — and others — have been “quite instrumental in the ‘long march’, as I call it, to try and change society by overthrowing the education system”, says Donnelly. This has applied in particular to subjects like English, “imposing a critical literacy point of view” so that “authors like Shakespeare have to be deconstructed” and history where “children are taught a black armband version”.

Meanwhile, with Bishop raising a fresh education debate, some participants of the history summit in August are wondering what happened to the outcome of this earlier venture. A sub-committee was due to report back to participants about a proposed questions-and-milestones approach to teaching history — a letter from Bishop indicated that this would have happened by now but it apparently hasn’t.

Peter Fray

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