Economy

Jan 31, 2011

Memo to Pyne: you’re reading the wrong history curriculum

When it comes to Christopher Pyne, lawyer, republican and politician, a couple of things. First, as a lawyer, it is always important to read documents carefully, writes Tony Taylor co-editor of the upcoming History Wars and the Classroom: Global Perspectives.

Yesterday I sent off to a US publisher the final draft of a book — History Wars and the Classroom. The final sentence of one of my chapters, in dealing with history curriculum in Australia, reads as follows: “Of course, if a Labor federal government is replaced by a conservative administration, we start all over again.”

Little did I know that Coalition education spokesman Christopher Pyne would be on the case quite so quickly.

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104 comments

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104 thoughts on “Memo to Pyne: you’re reading the wrong history curriculum

  1. Michael Wong

    “the English Civil War…. is arguably just a series of confused and confusing localised squabbles that may have a special significance for UK history, but not for anybody else (unless they like dressing up in period costume).”

    Tony! Dude! Better bone up on the relationship between the ECW and Westminster parliamentary democracy before making such a silly statement. Really buddy, you’re smarter than that surely.

  2. skink

    I heard Pyne on Newsradio this morning, saying that it was important to study these bits of Western history because ‘Australia adopted the Westminster system and we fought the Civil War to establish the rights of Parliament.’

    to which his interviewer replied; “Australians fought in the English Civil War?’

  3. Holden Back

    You’re making teh eror of assuming he wants to read the document accurately. Why should he let facts or heaven help us, concepts get in the way of making 51% of the population think he’s saving them from whale-hugging indigenous lesbians? For the purposes of his exercise it is precisiely the straw man with which he wishes to wrangle.

    And I’m not talking about Guy Fawkes night.

  4. Holden Back

    You’re making the error of assuming he wants to read the document accurately. Why should he let facts or heaven help us, concepts, get in the way of making 51% of the population think he’s saving them from whale-hugging indigenous lesbians? For the purposes of his exercise it is precisiely the straw man with which he wishes to wrangle.

    And I’m not talking about Guy Fawkes night.

  5. Lorry

    What history is written is irrelevent given the fact that the students are not capable of reading it. That alone suggests that Pyne in part is correct – scrap the curriculum and get back to basics – assuming you can read this comment of course.

  6. James Hunter

    Mister Pyne to me is a mistery. I cannot believe that a person with his background can produce such vacuous ,inaccurate statements as he does with such astounding regularity.
    I become embarrased just listening to him. Thank (deity of choice) that he is on the opposition.

  7. Jimmy

    This is yet another example of the coalition being happy to mislead the Australian public. They know very few journalists let alone the general public now the specifics of a topic so they make statements that play to people prejudices and fears (the history taught is going to be all about asians and commies and not you or flood victims are going to be forced to pay the flood levy) to get the talk back and news ltd readers phoning/writing in. In this way there lies become a sort of truth and they force the govt to defend issues they shouldn’t and then they just say “but can you trust this govt” (eg “I don’t know if the levy will ever be removed”).

    Good journalists should skewer Pyne with the facts but instead they give him not just the headline but almost the whole article with just a line at the bootm stating that the creators of the cirriculum state that his claims are false.

  8. thirdborn314

    Well I had blissfully and totally forgotton about Pyne up to this point in the new year, I wish it could have endured for longer. Dammit.

  9. Gavin Moodie

    I find Associate Professor Taylor’s analysis very helpful and it is good that it is on the record.

    However, I regret that Holden Back and Jimmy are correct. Pyne (and many others in the Coalition) distort the government’s position just for the sake of scoring some political point. So the question is, beyond correcting the record as Taylor does, what is Labor’s political response? P’raps Minister Evans should direct Pyne’s attention to the analysis of primary sources, if that is included in the curriculum.

  10. Daniel

    Sure, teach the English Civil War. Christopher Hill’s ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ should be the required reading. I’m sure Pyne would be happy with that.

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