A few days ago I read that the education system was failing because one in four students don’t complete Year 12.
That interests me because back in the old days, when I was getting a secondary education, it was the kids who failed when they didn’t complete Year 12. Of course, it was a different system them and a certain percentage was mandated to fail.
When one looks at the data a bit more closely, one finds that a lot of the reasons for this are the reasons we already know. High dropout rates in remote indigenous communities, poverty, mental illness and all the other factors that encourage governments to commission reports which recommend that something needs to be done. After receiving the report, the government either buries it or announces with much fanfare that it’s a great report and they’ll be studying it carefully and when they’ve had time to read it more fully, in the fullness of time, something will indeed be done. Why, we may even restore some of the funding that we took away in last year’s Budget.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t vast improvements that could be made to the education system. I’m not saying that teachers are perfect. I’m just making the point that every time something goes wrong, we blame the education system and then turn around and offer some half-baked explanation of what’s wrong with it.
And speaking of half-baked solutions, did you read Kevin Donelly’s article today which suggested: “Singing the national anthem at school should be compulsory”?
Kevin, you may remember, was responsible for a review into the Australian Curriculum to see how it was working. Which, of course, it wasn’t. After all, it hadn’t been introduced yet, so it’s really hard to argue that it was working. But Kevin and his mate were appointed to review it because they thought that it was far too left wing and didn’t have enough about our Judeo-Christian heritage or Anzac Day.
Surprisingly, they found that it didn’t have enough about our Judeo-Christian heritage or Anzac Day, as well as having far too much about Asia.
You remember, Anzac Day where the diggers went and fought for our right to make things compulsory.
Young Kevin begins his piece with the rather interesting rhetorical questions:
“How far should we go in accepting diversity and difference, the new code for multiculturalism, and allow immigrants to pursue their own values and customs? And to what extent should all those who live here be integrated into Australian society and accept the nation’s way of life?”
New “code” for multiculturalism? Mm, and here I was thinking difference and diversity meant something else entirely.
Anyway Mr Donnelly’s problem is that the principal of a primary school exempted a number of Shite students from assembly where the national anthem was to be sung, because they were observing Muharram, during which time they don’t participate in joyful events such as singing or listening to music.
Ok, I’ve never exactly thought of “Advance Australia Fair” as particularly joyful. I mean I can’t ever remember dancing to it, so if it’s a time of mourning I can’t see that loudly proclaiming our girtness would cheer one up all that much. And you can make your own mind up about the principal’s decision, but I like Kevin’s neat sashay round the wider question to go straight to the heart of the matter.
“All those who live in Australia, especially immigrants, should accept that Australian society is unique and that the types of freedoms and basic rights we often take for granted must be celebrated and upheld.”
So let’s see if I’ve got his position. All those who come here should be forced to accept that Australia is unique – unlike all those other countries which are all the same and just full of foreigners – and that children should be forced to sing the national anthem so that they understand exactly how freedom and basic rights must be celebrated.
Of course, he doesn’t talk about what should be done if I a person decides that their religous practices are more important and simply doesn’t sing. Should they be packed of to some re-education camp where we explain how great our country is until they understand that “multiculturalism doesn’t work”?
Yep, Mr Donnelly was probably chosen for the review of the Australian Curriculum because, like Mr Abbott, he seems more at home in that era when we were concerned that those “new Australians” were bringing in things and strange customs like spaghetti and smashing plates, and we were proud because Holden was Australia’s own and there were so many pink bits on the map which indicated countries belonging to the Commonwealth. And people who weren’t British were “the other”.
And “the other” was wrong. Our way of life wasn’t just better, it was the only way that one could live. That was the thing about the Aborigines. They couldn’t assimilate, and that was a pity. That’s why they’d died off in such numbers. As for the ones that were left, well, what can you do? They don’t fit into Australia, but if they can learn to behave like white people then they’re welcome to stay.
Ah, the good old days.
The switch to Turnbull isn’t just a change of leaders. It’s a whole change of era. During Abbott’s time (and to a lesser extent, during Howard’s), the other side was just wrong. You didn’t need to argue or explain. You just needed to say how wrong things were. You had Tony arguing against an emission trading scheme and telling us that it would be simpler to just put a tax on carbon at one point, then arguing that a tax on carbon was the wrong thing when Gillard did it. If Labor did it, it was wrong. If they’d found a cure for cancer, Abbott would have criticised them for any recently purchased chemotherapy equipment.
So we move to Turnbull and suddenly some of the things he’s saying make sense. There’s a suggestion that he might actually have opinions on some topics that are reasonable. On others, he’s clearly locked in to some policies that are hard to justify, but we seem to have an entered a world where things are being debated on their merits, rather than simply telling us that Labor was hopeless in government and therefore not entitled to comment on any of the current policies. It’s been a few weeks but I don’t remember Turnbull uttering the phrase, “the mess we inherited”… Although that could be because people would presume he was talking about the one left by Tony and Joe.
Yeah, you’re right. He hasn’t changed many of the policies, and on climate change, refugees (an example of the freedom-loving, human rights-supporting Australia that Donnelly loves so much), unions and the rest we’ve still to see any shift. But he did remove Newman as advisor and he did use the words “innovation” and “science” without suggesting that they be the work of the devil. It’s as though we’re actually looking to the future and trying to make a decent plan instead of simply harping about what Labor did, or how great it was when Liberals were last in charge.
And there’s a change in tone. He speaks as though when you disagree with him you’re simply misinformed, not evil. It’s like the difference between swearing at someone who offends you, compared to beating him over the head with a club. While, both may be unpleasant, the former is the beginining of civilzation.
As someone said, “It may be a new toilet, but it’s still the same shit.” While that may be true, I think the current appeal of Turnbull is that he looks modern enough that it’s possible that he can be flushed from time to time.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969