John Howard: Still in the past.

Posted: August 18, 2006 in News, Politics

john_howard.gifThough most Americans probably aren’t aware of it, there is such a thing as ‘the rest of the World’. A part of that ‘rest of the world’ is called Australia and it’s ruled by an animated Garden Gnome called John Howard, leader of the paradoxically named Liberal Party.

To cut a long story short, Howard has decided that he’d like to meddle with school curriculum (even though such areas are a state matter, not federal) with typical results…

Despite their name, the Australian Liberal Party do not have liberal based policies; they’re actually very conservative and that’s reflected in this messing with curriculum they want to do.  You see, John Howard wants to change the way that the area of history is taught in the classroom.   Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Well, here are the problems:

Time.  The school curriculum is already completely packed with other, arguably far more important, requirements. There are already mandatory standards in regards to how much of each subject needs to be taught every week in the classroom.  For example, numeracy and literacy (almost certainly the most important aspects of any basic curriculum) usually take up half a day each day.  Another example is physical activity of which there must be two hours a week of.

Modern teaching theory. The main emphasis of a modern teaching policy is not on simply giving students information (pouring data into their heads), which is what Howard seems to be proposing.  The main aim is to actually get students to learn how to learn, how to engage with material and become self motivated learners.  The days where a Teacher stood at the front of a classroom writing on the board with the students copying it down are long gone.

Finally, in the grand scale of things, history simply isn’t all that important.  Yes, it has a place and is a part of the curriculum but in the packed timetable, it simply can not make the final cut.  Currently history is placed under the curriculum domain of Humanities which also covers areas such as economics and geography.  History is addressed via that domain to a quite adequete degree.

In short, Howard simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about and this attempt to change curriculum direction to that of the 1950’s is nothing short of a farce.

Further reading:

ABC News story

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