As a busy working father, a lot of people probably think I have it made, and they’d be right — it is pretty great. It’s not for nothing that fathers are known as “the princes of civilization”.
But it’s also true that there is more to being a parent than just being better than other people. The job comes with hefty responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is education.
Obviously it’s great that Christopher Pyne is now Education Minister, and therefore able to take a much keener interest in education than he could when he was shadow education minister, a position mainly concerned with being ejected from parliament. But obviously Pyne, having only recently completed his Certificate IV in Minister-Being, cannot be expected to shoulder the entire burden of educationalistic design.
That's why I am indeed privileged to have recently been appointed to the government’s panel of review for the National Curriculum, alongside my spiritual mentor, Dr Kevin “Possibly A Goblin” Donnelly.
The panel, of course, has big plans, as you’ve probably been reading about. In particular, we will be focusing on five major areas of improvement that will allow our children to reach their full potential and compete more robustly with our neighbours to the north, who even now are planning invasion with swarms of well-educated and knowledgeable soldiers who will easily overpower our dull-witted, beetle-browed populace, sweeping down through our major population centres while our own armed forces are still trying to figure out what a protractor is for.
The first area we will be looking to “beef up” will be appreciation of Western Civilisation. Now, of course it is true that we are living in the Asian Century, but what is NOT so oft-spoken of is the actual scientifically-proven FACT that almost zero percent of major urban infrastructure in Australia was built by the Chinese government.
Isn’t it time that our oh-so-PC teachers stopped lecturing the kids all day about Chairman Mao’s favourite sayings and the softer side of Sukarno and started teaching them about important, Western achievements, like the giant earthworm in Gippsland and Sir Francis Drake?
No matter which way you slice it, Australia is a country built by Europeans, on European principles, using European materials and funded by reasonably-priced loans from European financial institutions. We are not saying ignore the Asian region — our draft curriculum has an entire module on honey soy — but let’s give some “mad props”, as Pyne says, to our white forebears.
This will also naturally mean an end to the Black Armband view of history, allowing for a more nuanced, balanced approach to learning about the interaction between Aborigines and actual Australians. We have no wish to airbrush atrocities from history, but neither should a well-rounded curriculum gloss over the fact that without white people Cathy Freeman wouldn’t even have had an Olympics to run in. So I guess “swings and roundabouts” is the panel’s attitude to the teaching of race relations.
Secondly, the new curriculum will feature a much-enhanced focus on fundamentals. How often have you lamented that your children come home each day able to quote accurate measurements of ocean acidification and radiative forcing, yet when you ask them what one plus one is, they look at you blankly and develop type two diabetes?
This worrying trend is why we need to return to the “Three Rs”, or as it will be called under our new curriculum, “the One R and Two Other Letters” — we feel it’s a bad start to teaching children to read and write to tell them that “writing” and “arithmetic” begin with R.
To this end, the new curriculum will eliminate the current curriculum’s designated four hours per day of climate change indoctrination, and the one day a week of self-esteem training, and replace them with intensive drilling in the times table and punctuation. Year 12 students' university admission scores will from now on be determined by national spelling bee.
As you may have divined, the panel is quite concerned about the creeping leftist bias that is entering many of our public schools, universities, pop singers and botanical gardens. We on the Pyne Panel believe that our children deserve to always hear both sides of the story, and so, under our draft curriculum, every time a teacher mentions something of a leftist bent, like climate change, wealth redistribution, or women, they will be required to append a disclaimer stating “but of course that’s not really true”.
It is about balance, you see.
We'll take a similarly balanced approach to Anzac Day. I’m sure that, like me, you are concerned about the ignorance of Anzac Day being displayed by our youngsters. I can’t count the number of times my son has returned from school unable to answer even the most basic questions about the Battle of Lone Pine.
I fear we are raising an entire generation of Australians who will reach adulthood not even knowing how many Germans Simpson’s donkey killed, or what sort of plane Albert Jacka flew. The new curriculum will include a comprehensive course, running from kindergarten to Year 12, on all aspects of Anzac Day and Gallipoli: the facts, the legacy, the importance of drinking and gambling, and so forth.
Victory in the Australo-German War was the defining moment in our history: it is imperative that we ensure that those millions of brave diggers didn’t die in vain — after all, if it were not for their brave efforts to ward off invasion, today we might all be speaking Russian.
The last prong of our education fork is science. We’ve got a bit too much of it. We’re going to ease up a bit there. I mean, bunsen burners are fun, but we’re trying to raise citizens, not arsonists. There are only so many hours in a day: let’s not devote so many of them to scientific “theories” that will probably all get changed tomorrow anyway, and let’s spend a little bit more time teaching our kids how to assemble and maintain cardboard boxes, to prepare them for the economy of the future.
Sensible plans, Achievable goals. Patriotic facts. That’s what education in this new world is all about. Let’s all embrace the possibilities of decent, right-thinking children and move forward together, as a smart, confident, slightly paranoid nation. And of course for girls there will be cooking.
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