Education Wars

As has been frequently documented, our educational institutions have by and large been captured by the ideological Left and the forces of political correctness. The three Rs have for some time now been replaced by various left wing causes, ideological propaganda, and a monotonous critique of the West.

It is hard to find any core department in our schools today that has not been subverted by this radical agenda. The arts and humanities departments have long ago succumbed to the assault troops of the secular left. But even more mundane school subjects are not immune. Consider the area of geography for example.

When I was growing up that subject had to do with naming rivers, identifying countries, recognising topography and the like. But not today. Instead we have a radicalised and politicised geography.

Education expert Kevin Donnelly takes up this theme in today’s Australian (September 28, 2006). In an article entitled “Geography has lost perspective,” he laments the way this subject has been hijacked by the PC brigade.

Where we once studied water cycles, mountain formation or the nations’ capitals, we now have a mish-mash of leftist causes and trendy PC. Consider how a Queensland curriculum wants geography to be approached: It is to “deal with sentiments such as ‘active participation and stewardship by applying the values of democratic process, social justice, ecological and economic sustainability and peace’.”

“That’s right: geography, following the example of the critical literacy assault on English and the black-armband attack on history teaching, has been captured by the cultural Left and those committed to the much-maligned outcomes-based approach to curriculum.”

In resource-rich Western Australia one might expect some discussion about minerals and mining, and the contribution they make to the economy. Instead, “when asked to write about sustainable development, students are given the usual doomsday scenario of global warming, acid rain and pollution from an over-reliance on fossil fuels caused by the ‘powerful position of large companies that produce fossil fuels and motor vehicles’.”

Continues Donnelly, “Never mind the rigorous work of environmental sceptics such as Bjorn Lomborg. And never mind that companies such as Rio Tinto do so much to support isolated Aboriginal communities. One wonders when students will be taught how Australia’s prosperity and wealth relies on our land-based primary industries.”

Not to be outdone, the South Australian approach to geography encourages middle school students to be “critical of others, curriculum, school environments and society in general” and that they also should be involved in “decision-making, often challenging authority”.

Says Donnelly, “Of course, education should promote a certain amount of scepticism and students need to think independently. But the reality is the cultural Left’s commitment to students being autonomous is simply code for imposing its politically correct view of the world on the classroom.”

In many ways Victoria led the way in the dumbing down of geography: “The New Wave geography textbooks produced by the Victorian Geography Teachers Association during the early 1990s provide some of the more extreme examples of bias. Members of the Australian Defence Force are described as ‘harm workers’, students are asked to analyse the effect of a nuclear attack on Melbourne and transnational corporations such as BHP are condemned for contributing to global poverty and famine.”

New South Wales was not much better. One member of the geography syllabus committee said the curriculum there “was to rid geography teaching in NSW of the white, male, Anglo, middle-class values which some claim have been privileged in education for too long”.

As a result of such social engineering, “not only do students leave school with a jaundiced view of environmental and other issues, but many lack grounding in the essential knowledge, understanding and skills associated with geography as a stand-alone discipline.”

But proper scholastic understanding is no longer the outcome many academics are looking for. Instead, they use the schools to radicalise an entire generation of students. And they seem to be pretty successful at doing just that.

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20487303-7583,00.html

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