The news that the national curriculum soon to be implemented makes it mandatory that all history taught must have 40% Australian content had its detractors.

“Are you serious?” quoth Tarquin moved to eloquence at the prospect.

“But that is absurd,” said the Chinese student who speaks binary as a first language, “Australia has only been around for one human minute.”

“Ah, now, Rupert…” and here the teacher suffered one of those terrible moments as he hoped it was not Jeremy or Sebastian or Cholmondley …all those English names that Asian kids seem to have lifted from century-old copies of Boys Own — for this far into the semester it is really not possible to cheat and call upon “…the boy with straight black hair and glasses.”

“China’s history has got nothing to do with Australia and the Chinese have been around a lot longer.”

“Yes, I see your point, um, Sebastian, but from the perspective of Australian history, China is a strand — I believe that is the word favoured by the department — Chinese gold miners, the Yellow, er, Peril, the marvellous contribution made to multiculturalism.”

“What about war and torture and stuff?” several chorused. (“We hate war,” countered the girls.)

“There’s Gallipolli.”

“We’re sick of Gallipolli. It’s so gay.”

“Only in the film with Mel Gibson. Oh. You mean gay.”

“There’s just not the horrific grandeur of those battles which defined both our common nature as human beings and subsequent the history of the world,” the kid who quoted Descartes at you in Year 7 laments.

“Come, come, Dimitri, there’s always Brimbank Council or the NSW Labor Party.”

“Someone’s clutching at straws,” Tarquin said with frightening insight.

“Nonsense. The new curriculum is designed for you to appreciate our place in the global scheme of things –”

“A boil on the world’s arse.” (You’ve always hated that Dimitri.)

“…to develop a strong national sense so we may take our place at the feast…”

“God,” declared Cholmondley … you are almost certain it was Cholmondley … “He’s beginning to sound like Goebbels.” (At least they took in that lesson.)

“…and to strengthen our national identity…”

“Rudd’s Rottweiler! Gillard’s gigolo!”

Yes, a mixed reception. And they never even got to hear about the other 60% of the curriculum which covers, well, absolutely everything. Okay, kids, yesterday we did the Hundred Years’ War. Tomorrow we do the Renaissance. For homework, I want you to read up on the Reformation and Counter-Reformation which we will knock off on Monday. Any questions?

Peter Fray

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