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a draft national curriculum « Previous | |Next »
March 2, 2010

Finally a national curriculum in maths, science, history and English from kindergarten to year 10.The argument is that Australia should have one curriculum for school students, rather than the eight different arrangements that exist at the moment. It's a persuasive argument and the reform is long overdue.

The rhetoric is that this world class national curriculum is critical to maintaining Australia's productivity and quality of life. This set of educational goals and actions aims to better prepare young people for their participation in a changing and increasingly globalised world. Though it places Aboriginal and Asian ways of seeing the world into almost every subject, this is a ''back to basics'' approach with an emphasis on grammar and phonics on spelling, on sounding out letters, on counting, on adding up, on taking away.

Despite the three cross-curriculum dimensions of Indigenous history and culture, Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia and sustainability the "Australian Curriculum" is hardly an education revolution in a digital world, information society, and a visual world. The back to basics rhetoric is at odds with the 10 general capabilities of literacy, numeracy, information communication technology, thinking skills, ethical behaviour, creativity, self-management, teamwork, intercultural understanding and social competence.

Though history is the current area of controversy ---is it black armband, white blindfold or balanced view of history?--it does develop a comprehensive history of Australia that includes the histories of First Australians, colonisation of Australia and its subsequent effects upon all groups of people, Australian government, Australia’s place within the British Empire, Australia’s place within the Asia-Pacific region and immigration to Australia.

However, the back to basic building blocks don't give much space to critical thinking in the sense of developing the knowledge and skills to be active and informed citizens who know how to think critically about contemporary issues of public concern. History is not the same as economics, the other social sciences, or ethics. Why should sustainability be taught in history?

This is not a world-class curriculum.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:37 AM | | Comments (8)


Do we now have a national curriculum as well as the states and territories still having their own education departments, each with their own curriculum and assessment bodies? Will there be a simple directive that "every Australian student will undertake a national Curriculum?

At this stage, however, none of the states or territories appear to have made a commitment that the National Curriculum will replace the existing curricula for English, Maths, History and Science.They have agreed, in principle, to support a National Curriculum, but it’s very unclear how far they will go to implement it.

The national curriculum's shift away from a Euro-centric history to one that is more relevant to Australia's place in the Asiatic and Pacific region is very welcome. It is long overdue.

In English, all students will be required to learn grammar, punctuation, spelling and how language is used. It The focus in Englis h is basic, very text-based, and literary. From a young age

In English, all students will be required to learn grammar, punctuation, spelling and how language is used. From a young age [students] will be taught word-sound relations and phonetics, ''fluent and legible'' handwriting, and how to interpret and evaluate literary texts. One of the big changes is that there will be a greater emphasis on literature in the primary years and literacy support will be enhanced across all school levels.

Yet we live in a visual world. Just look at advertising. A text based approach to interpreting texts such as films and visual digital publications misses how our culture has shifted to a visual one.

I am always disappointed when I look at curriculum guidelines for teachers. I hope to see a list of topics to be covered and links to texts that teach the desired facts. Instead VELS and VELTs are pages of aspirational statements that allow teachers to teach what ever they like so long as they can justify it within terms of the framework.
I learn more about the curriculum by looking at past Year 12 exam papers. The examiners reports are interesting but they avoid giving the answers to the questions.

I think I am like most parents and adults and feel I am incapable of understanding what the national curriculum will look like.


A year ago I would have agreed with you that preparation for the digital world should be taught at school, but I've changed my mind for several reasons.

This government has a peculiar view of the internet, and what people actually do with it. On one hand they're using it to get feedback on the draft curriculum, which is wonderful, but on the other hand they seem to prefer the old Information Superhighway model rather than the social model, where it's treated as content rather than interaction.

Education systems will necessarily limit what kids are able to access and do online.

I haven't read the draft yet, but after reading a bit about it this morning, critical thinking and critical literacy are taught in high school, after kids have the basics on board from primary, and in English and science. That applies to imagery and the digital as much as anything else.

Watching how my own kids use digital technology, they're already well aware of digital culture and use it to access things like public transport timetables and their personal, global networks. But it rarely occurs to them to, say, go to Wikipedia to do a bit of research. Same goes for first year uni students. So I'd rather see classrooms focus on the old fashioned uses of the digital world which they don't do for themselves.

re your comment that the Rudd Government prefers the old Information Superhighway model rather than the social model, where it's treated as content rather than interaction.

I agree. Does that mean the interaction takes place outside the education system?

I linked to my favorite political cartoon

Seems like i cant subscribe to your rss feed. i am using juice by the way. you may want to look into this. thanks!