A recent The Sun newspaper article written by the UK Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi should be compulsory reading for every commonwealth, state, and territory education minister – and every woke teacher union, subject association, and like-minded teacher training academic.
The Education Secretary argues teachers must not indoctrinate students with their personal views and beliefs, especially in relation to controversial and sensitive political issues. Zahawi writes parents and the broader community ‘need to be able to trust schools to be impartial’ and that ‘means education not indoctrination’.
Instead of advocating a one-sided and biased perspective, the Education Secretary argues teachers need to give ‘a balanced presentation of opposing views on political issues, so that the complexity of many of these important questions is understood’.
Zahawi’s call for objectivity and balance follows a report released last year by the UK’s Education Select Committee arguing schools ‘should not teach contested theories and opinions as fact, and this includes contested views about “white privilege”’.
The report argues embracing such a politically charged and woke expression, in addition to being divisive by unfairly characterising British society as structurally racist, contributes to ‘the systematic neglect of white people facing hardship who also need specific support’.
Largely ignored by woke activists championing Critical Theory is that white boys in low socio-economic areas face significant disadvantage especially when it comes to academic results measured by A levels and tertiary entrance.
The UK Secretary of State for Education’s critique of schools being used to indoctrinate students with woke ideology also applies to Australian schools where the Australian Education Union, subject and professional associations and teacher training academics have long since taken the Kool-Aid.
The revised national curriculum released last year presents a black armband view of the nation’s history where the First Fleet is described as an invasion leading to genocide. The curriculum also prioritises a romanticised, Rousseauean view of indigenous history, culture and spirituality while ignoring the significance and benefits of Western civilisation and Judeo-Christianity.
Exemplified by the neo-Marxist inspired, gender fluidity Safe Schools program, primary and secondary age students are taught there is nothing natural or preferential about being a boy or a girl as sex and gender are oppressive social constructs ‘assigned’ at birth. One resource even suggests parents need not be told if their child wants to undergo transition.
The Respectful Relationships program is also one-sided and biased as it suggests domestic violence only involves women as victims and implies all men are misogynist and sexist. Such is the pervasive influence of woke ideology that in some schools boys at assembly are made to stand and apologise for being male.
Climate Change is yet another issue where education is dominated by cultural-left activists intent on indoctrinating students with what is politically correct. Australia’s peak education unions, including the Australian Education Union, the Independent Education Union and the National Tertiary Education Union, all endorse climate alarmism and champion student activism.
Under the heading Education unions proudly support students strike for climate the unions boast, ‘Together we represent more than 200,000 members working in the education sector. As teachers and educators we bear witness to the will, determination and passion alive in our students in their fight for action on climate change on a daily basis.’
The peak curriculum body, the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, also promotes student activism and has a history of promoting a neo-Marxist inspired view of the purpose of education based on Critical Theory and Critical Literacy.
Critical Theory argues education has to be empowering and liberating and that knowledge is a social construct employed by society’s elites to oppress the disadvantaged. Critical Literacy, inspired by the Marxist educator Paulo Freire, tells English teachers their role is to empower students to deconstruct language and literature in terms of oppressive power relationships.
As I write in chapter two of Cancel Culture And The Left’s Long March, beginning in the late 60s and early 70s the cultural-left has targeted education as one of its primary strategies to overturn what it sees as Western societies characterised by classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia.
As argued by one of the textbooks set for teacher education published in 1982: ‘In a society disfigured by class exploitation, sexual and racial oppression and in chronic danger of war and environmental destruction, the only education worth its name is one that forms people capable of taking part in their own liberation … Teachers too have to decide whose side they are on’.
The United Kingdom and Australia have education systems much in common and the UK Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi is strong in championing the belief education should never be confused with indoctrination. The time has long since past when Australia’s education ministers should have put the same case.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior fellow at the ACU’s PM Glynn Institute (kevindonnelly.com.au)
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