Angst in the papers

  • This morning’s editorial in The Age is muted with respect to the two laws passed regarding reproductive choice in Victoria last week, opining that the abortion decriminalisation legislation goes too far with its explicit negation of a conscience clause, and the fertility intervention extension legislation (allowing access to IVF for single and lesbian women) doesn’t go far enough, because it doesn’t cover the children having access to the identity of both their biological parents.
  • Changing the history curriculum – the mooted changes all seem very sensible to me, but some people are upset.
  • Paul Sheehan writes about several popular culture explorations of teenage sexuality, and notes how the pornifying of sexuality has changed the way we view such things, in an op-ed that appears designed to please almost nobody.

Categories: culture wars, education, gender & feminism, history, media

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I just hope they get the Aboriginal history part right and don’t try to lump all Aboriginal nations in as one group.People don’t seem to realise that each nation had its own language, spirituality, legends etc etc and that many of those groups have lost the wisdom as Elders have died.

  2. Unless they have changed it very recently, it already is compulsory to study history up to and including year 10.

  3. Well, the article said that history was now only compulsory until Year 8. In the 90s when I was in high school, it was compulsory up to Year 10, however. I very much like the idea of expanding history lessons to include world history– for me, primary school history seemed to be an endless repetition of Captain Cook, the First Fleet and Gallipoli, with very little else (except for one unit on European explorers– because the world outside Europe didn’t exist before white people got there, apparently). High school was more varied, but very Euro-centric. We did do an excellent Australian history unit in Year 10 that included the Stolen Generation and Women’s History.
    I also hope that any curricula for Aboriginal history are formed in consultation with local Aboriginal communities.

  4. My memories of history are the same, deeply, deeply anglo-centric – and even *in* focussing so narrowly, kinda leaving important things out of that focus. I mean, I didn’t know the bloody Romans had *been* in England until I was in my twenties, and even then, I was like, “Were they LOST?”. Sigh. AND I though Oliver Cromwell was the kid from the musical.
    Paul Sheehan…head exploding. Bad. Bad. Very very bad.
    fuckpolitenesss last blog post..Oh, boy, there’s a rant a-comin’!

  5. High school for me had Maedieval European (mainly British) history, Ancient Egypt, and some World War 1 and 2. It was in a shared subject with Geography and current events (called social science, from memory…?) and was compulsory to year 10.
    My school also had an elective in year ten, which I did, called Modern Asian History, which was fantastic and covered the Chinese Revolutions (from Sun Yat-Sen through to the Cultural Revolution), the Cambodian war & killing fields, and the Vietnam war.

  6. There is something extremely creepy about Paul Sheehan’s interest in young girl’s sexuality. I thought his graphic descriptions of gang rapes in “Girls Like You” were gratuitous and totally unnecessary, and all in the name of “concern”.
    All I’m getting from that column is “Teen chicks want it bad! Alright!”
    Just checked with my son who is in year 8. History already is compulsory til year 10, and seeing as it also was for my daughter who is in year 12 now, I think it’s safe to say that article is inaccurate.
    I welcome a broader approach to Aboriginal history though. They already teach colonialism in the state school curriculum but not necessarily from an Aboriginal perspective.

  7. When I was at school in the late 70s (ETA: in NSW), history was only compulsory until Year 8. Perhaps the journalist is of a similar vintage, and was simply unaware that things have changed? My kids are doing a combined compulsory Geography/History curriculum for Years 9 & 10.
    The Sheehan column seems muddled. Yes, some teens are highly sexually aware and acting as if they are not doesn’t do them any favours, but by the end it seems to be getting into wanting those kids in their miniskirts and stilettos the hell off his lawn.

  8. According to the article, students in NSW don’t have to study History beyond level 8 if they study Geography. Does the level that History is taught up to vary from state to state? (Totally iggerant of Aus Ed system here…)

  9. The Age’s coverage of the Abortion decriminalization bill has been very suspect. They appear to have printed every media release floated by the anti-choice lobby, even giving them front page billing as things hotted up in parliament. Anyone know what’s been going on at the good ship Fairfax? Is it just abortion that they’ve gone down the fundamentalist line on or is there a generally shift to the right on all issues?
    another outspoken females last blog post..606 – Roseanne cross-post

  10. M-H: currently all states have different curricula for all subjects, and the federal government is trying to change that, because it makes it very difficult for students who move across state lines. This new history curriculum is part of this.
    I think that Tigtog’s suggestion, that the author of the article went to school in NSW in the 70s and simply incorrectly assumed that it hadn’t changed is probably the right one, as everyone who seems to have gone through the system from the 90s onwards had to study both history and geography.

  11. another outspoken female, I’m delurking to say that I’ve noticed that about The Age, too. Even their letters page has been skewed towards anti-choice propoganda, and I know that it’s not from a lack of pro-choice letters being sent in, because I know plenty of people who have written in about it.
    Honestly, I think they’ve been slowly shifting to the right for some time now, especially online. Having misogynist, victim-blaming twits like self-glorified Sam de Brito on staff doesn’t exactly help things, I think.

  12. Thanks Beppie. As my kids left school long before I immigrated here I haven’t had the need to understand the NSW school system, let alone the national one (or lack of it). I find that my brain, once a magpie, has become a much more selective mechanism, perhaps in defence because it is almost full.

  13. My memories of history as taught in the 80s/early 90s are not Euro-centric. History wasn’t a separate subject in primary school, was part of social studies. I don’t remember studying anything specific. But year 7 we did ancient Greece and ancient Egypt, year 8 we did Japanese history the first half of the year and American the second half, year nine was Australian the whole year (including a lot about Indigenous history), year ten I’m having a total mental blank (clearly it wasn’t that interesting!), year 11 was modern European (including quite a lot on the world wars) and year 12 we had different electives – I did revolutions, which covered the Chinese and Russian revolutions.
    I actually think history was one of the better designed and taught subjects. The way it was taught – at least at my school – we looked at events from different perspectives, and I wouldn’t have called it Anglo-centric. Nor would I have thought that a high school curriculum would be able to cover *all* history in any sort of meaningful way – I also didn’t learn about the Romans in Britain at school (although I wouldn’t have said I didn’t know they were there), but it’s probably better from an educational point of view to cover a few things in depth, so that students learn the actual skills they need (for example historical research) rather than skimming the surface of everything.

  14. I went to high school between 1991 (Yr 9) and 1994 in SA, and history wasn’t compulsory at all. It might have been in Yr 8, which I missed, but in 9 & 10 we did ‘social studies’ and in Yr 11 the SACE kids did Australian Studies which I understand included Australian History, whereas the International Baccalaureate kids did Modern European History (WW1 and WW2, mostly) in Yr 11 and the French Revolution in Yr 12.
    As an immigrant who only arrived in Australia in 1991, I might have missed out on earlier teaching, but I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t know a) that Australia was really involved in the WWs at all, and had never heard of Gallipoli and b) that there was any controversy about the white invasion of Australia. I understood that white folk had come in and taken over the land, bringing diseases which vastly reduced the Aboriginal population, but that’s it. Actual battles, slaughters, conflicting versions of colonisation? Nada.
    I didn’t learn any of those things until I did Legal Studies some several years later at university. And this is coming from someone who read voraciously and had a real interest in history to begin with.
    Rebekka’s description sounds like a model I’d be happy to have taught to my children. Mine really wasn’t.

  15. “M-H: currently all states have different curricula for all subjects, and the federal government is trying to change that, because it makes it very difficult for students who move across state lines. This new history curriculum is part of this.”
    The federal is trying to sell it on the basis of fixing up things to make it simpler for families that move through different states (for example, defense force families) – which accounts for a maximum of 3% of families. Education is constitutionally the responsibility of the States. A national curriculum is a part of the federal govt political agenda in terms of making education more “streamlined, efficient, world-class” and to be seen to be taking a pro-active stance in regards to our obsession with numeracy and literacy.
    That being said, the approach advocated for history (as detailed in the linked article) makes sense to me.

  16. And as for Paul Sheehan!

    ”Frankly, it is our culture saturated with debt, consumerism, two-income families, one-parent households and a coarsening public domain that has done more to truncate the innocence of youth than random perverts, a reality we have barely begun to acknowledge.”

    So apparently the only way to protect your teens is to be a happily partnered stay at home mum!

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