One of the central tenets of a worthwhile, rigorous and balanced education system is there is room for disagreement, discussion and debate; especially related to controversial issues where there are opposing views.
Not when it comes to human-induced global warming. For simply wanting to provide resources to schools questioning the link between carbon emissions and global warming the conservative activist group Advance Australia has been attacked and vilified.
The Victorian education minister James Merlino argues Advance Australia is a “front for a group of ill-informed climate change deniers” and principals are told they should put “this rubbish where it belongs – in the bin”.
The NSW education department, while less scathing, also argues resources should not be allowed in schools that oppose the view the planet will be destroyed unless carbon emissions are reduced to zero. The NSW department argues “schools are neutral places for rational discourse and objective study”.
It’s a pity the same criteria is not applied to those intent on turning classrooms into action zones where students are conditioned to be new-age, deep green activists. Since Australian schools embraced Al Gore’s doomsday video ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ over 13 years ago the prevailing ideology has been one of climate alarmism.
The hard left Australian Education Union makes no bones about its views when arguing climate change is an “existential threat” and a “catastrophe” and that students must be allowed to wag school in support of the School Strike 4 Climate campaigns. A campaign that argues Australia must adopt zero emissions by 2030.
The teacher union is listed on the School Strike 4 Climate webpage as one of the organisations backing the activist group and in a media release titled ‘Education unions support student strike for climate’ expresses its support for “students in their fight for environmental justice and action on the climate emergency”.
Manuela Mendonca, the head of Education International (of which the AEU is a member), argued at a recent United Nation’s conference on climate change that the world is facing a “climate emergency” that is threatening “the very existence of humanity”.
Mendonca argues teachers must use the classroom to “teach about climate change, its causes, consequences and solutions to the crisis” by ensuring “climate change education is a core element of the curriculum, right from early childhood to university”.
While no one should deny teaching about climate change is an important part of the school curriculum the problem arises on examining Education International’s guide to teachers titled ‘Education A Powerful Tool For Combatting Climate Change’.
Similar to Al Gore’s video and the resources distributed by the extinction rebellion activist group the international teachers’ guide argues the world is facing “mass extinction” and that teachers around the world, including Australia, should “ensure climate change education is incorporated into the school curricula, teaching and learning materials”.
Teachers are called on to be “change agents” at the “forefront of the fight against climate change”. The material preaching doom and gloom argues school children are witnessing a tragedy characterised by “suffocating heatwaves, more intense and destructive hurricanes and storms, the mass extinction of plant, animal species, severe droughts, torrential rain (and) rising sea levels” all caused as a direct result of carbon-induced global warming.
Those who disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy are disparaged as “climate change sceptics” and “deniers”. Such is the hostility to those with opposing views the guide congratulates the BBC for refusing to give airtime to any who refuse to follow the deep green inspired party line. So much for balanced and impartial debate.
The most egregious example of how education has been reduced to politically correct indoctrination and groupthink is the guide’s warning there might be some science teachers committing the unforgiveable crime of allowing balanced and impartial debate about climate change.
After criticising politicians for being “influenced by powerful oil and gas companies” the international teachers’ guide bemoans the fact that “sometimes science teachers are even encouraged to allow students to debate the causes of climate change, fostering climate denial”.
And it’s not only the issue of climate change and the role of carbon where schools are being pressured to ignore contrarian views and only teach what is mandated as politically correct. The Marxist inspired gender and sexuality Safe Schools program refuses to include any material that might be construed as heteronormative or transphobic.
The national curriculum uncritically embraces diversity and difference on the basis that multiculturalism is beyond reproach and there is nothing uniquely beneficial or preferential about Western civilisation.
In relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and spirituality the national curriculum also only promotes a cultural-left perspective where indigenous history and way of life are beyond reproach and only ever presented in a positive light.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and a member of the Advance Australia’s advisory board.
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