Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Christopher Pyne’s confusing attitudes to Australia’s indigenous history

By conservative estimates 20,000 Indigenous Australians were killed by British troops, colonial militias, police and vigilante settlers as the colonial frontier expanded across the continent. At least 2,000 new Australians also died in such battles, often in ugly reprisal attacks.

Where exactly does Christopher Pyne stand on teaching Indigenous history? The minister says students should learn about Aboriginal history, but adds that the current curriculum has not sold the ‘benefits of western civilisations’. Tell that to Indigenous Australians    Guardian, 14 Jan 14 Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if education minister Christopher Pyne is genuinely torn about Australia’s bleak and violent colonial history, trying to be politically pragmatic or just confused.

Last week when he announced a supposedly independent review of the national curriculum by experts clearly hostile towards the status quo, it was framed in terms of competing aspects of Australia’s past – Indigenous history and “western civilisation”. Of course, these two elements of Australian history have been inextricably linked since 1788. Good history teachers and scholars know they are not mutually exclusive and should not be treated as such.
Students should, he said, learn “the truth about the way we’ve treated Indigenous Australians” but also the “benefits of western civilisation”. The problem with the current curriculum, he added, was that it had “not sold or talked about the benefits of western civilisations in our society”. By inference, then, there was an imbalance in favour of the Indigenous story.The truth is that since 1788, the “western civilisation” of this great southern land has come at the profound expense of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inhabitants. There is Indigenous history pre-1788, and an Indigenous history post-1788, that is indelibly shaped by white settlement, extreme violence, resistance and continued activism. By conservative estimates 20,000 Indigenous Australians were killed by British troops, colonial militias, police and vigilante settlers as the colonial frontier expanded across the continent. At least 2,000 new Australians also died in such battles, often in ugly reprisal attacks…….
barely a year ago when he flagged from opposition his curriculum review that would reconsider elements that presented a “black armband view”. He said: “we think that of course we should recognise the mistakes that have been made in the past. But … we don’t want to beat ourselves up every day.”Then, as with last week, Pyne argued more emphasis should be given to the importance of Anzac Day, which is central, he insists, to understanding Australian character.

 

January 15, 2014 - Posted by | General News

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