Education preoccupations

An article in Thursday’s The Australian caught my eye regarding Labor backbencher Craig Emerson proposing mandatory school-based education until the completion of Year 12 for all students. The ideal of an extended education so school-leavers have more skills and knowledge is one I have sympathy with, but I’m uncomfortable with the mandatory aspect of Emerson’s proposal as I opined over at Larvatus Prodeo.

Lo and behold, the Oz is on an education roll this week, largely in response to federal Education Minister Julie Bishop’s call for a uniform national curriculum stripped of “trendy educational fads” and our nation’s foremost TV-quiz-winner, former Labor Cabinet Member and Party President Barry Jones’ book-excerpted spray at various Labor figures, especially Kim Beazley, for not sufficiently pushing the “Knowledge Nation” policy in the campaign for the 2001 federal elections.

As one might expect, others’ opinions differ.

Learning to lose our diversity
A national curriculum may be too far removed from education’s grassroots, writes Judith Wheeldon

Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing
Barry Jones is wrong in his interpretation of the demise of Labor’s Knowledge Nation, writes Dennis Glover

Michael Costello: His knowledge was no match for real politics
Labor darling Barry Jones’s love of the limelight has often proved damaging to the policies and causes he espouses

Obviously the polls are telling the pollies that the punters are worried about education, so it’s time to stoke up the culture wars again.

Some interesting articles, particularly as Knowledge Nation arguably failed at the polls not on its merits but on Howard’s devastating play on the fears surrounding 9/11 and the Tampa. Howard could have taken the guts of the excellent Knowledge Nation ideas (without Jones’ obfuscatory daftnesses) and implemented some of those sound educational reforms once he’d taken power – why didn’t he?

Categories: culture wars, education, Politics

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2 replies

  1. Knowledge Nation was resoundingly beaten by the Swallow Any Old Crap Nation policy of the Coalition at the last election.
    Emerson’s right that high retention rates are a good thing, but compulsion is pointless. According to an article in the Age last week (following up on early school leavers) a fairly high proportion don’t officially leave school (by signing all the forms) they simply stop showing up. Kids who are at risk, especially those in unstable home environments, aren’t going to school and no law is going to make getting there easier for them.

  2. I hadn’t read the Age article. Good one.
    Julie Bishop’s copping some snark in todays SMH:
    Only days after the Prime Minister described the curriculum as “incomprehensible sludge”, Bishop was able to pinpoint the source of this sludge to the influence of Chairman Mao within state bureaucracies.
    The minister needs to provide evidence of her serious charges, or risk jeopardising the careers of responsible professionals. Even if she is able to demonstrate the truth of her claims, it still does not follow that the solution is for the Commonwealth to wrest control from the states and territories.
    After all, would it not be even simpler for those of evil ideological intent to infiltrate a single national curriculum than eight separate ones?
    Perhaps they are well placed there already, in anticipation of such a move by the minister?

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