Minister Pyne has announced a review to be undertaken by 2 of our new curriculum's staunchest critics.( Kevin Donnellly and Ken Whiltshire) Pyne has previously criticised the curriculum as being too pro-labor. Unlike his cuts to funding, this review was part of their election platform.
Pyne believes that the current curriculum doesn't recognise the 'legacy of western civilisation and important events in Australia's history such as ANZAC Day.' Based on these odd comments I wonder when Pyne last visited a state school! ( Pyne and Peter Costello believe that our school history should incorporate more about the influence of conservative policy in the development of modern Australian society, especially the influence of the Menzies government but probably not their woeful performance in wartime or their complicity in propping up British and later American imperialism in Asia?)
Donnelly was a former chief of staff for a Liberal party frontbencher and arch conservative, Kevin Andrews.Whiltshire is a critic of the current curriculum calling it patchy.
According to Pyne the 'electorate endorsed a review, parents want it, many educational experts and teachers desire it' ( I'm not sure who he has been talking too. Education experts have been vociferous in the criticism of him and his review and I haven't met a parent or teacher yet who desires anything more than to see our new curriculum get off the ground and not be politicised!)
Donnelly has written many books on curriculum which I haven't read ( I don't know anyone who has read them? One of his books 'Why Our Schools Are Failing' was commissioned by the right- wing Menzies research. Centre and Malcolm Turnbull wrote the forward) but I have read some of his newspaper opinion pieces. He strongly advocates for resources to be directed at teaching young people 'Australia's western heritage and the Judeo- Christian tradition.'
Donnelly has also written that "parents believe the sexual practices of gays, lesbians and transgender individuals are decidedly unnatural" he questions that students ought to learn about these relationships at school. ( Even though homophobia has been identified as a major cause of child suicide) He seems to suggest that only heterosexual teachers have a right to teach sex- education ( I pity the principal that would have to ensure that! It would make for interesting conversations when timetables are written)
He believes that standards in numeracy and literacy are in decline and that's only due to 'political correctness' and 'left wing academics, teacher unions and sympathetic governments.'
Donnelly and Pyne are ardent advocates of the 'stand and deliver' approach to teaching. it is a remarkably old fashioned approach to pedagogy. Ken Boston told ABC radio that Donnelly doesn't engage with reasoned argument or evidence.... His publications are regarded as specious nonsense. ( damning criticism that I tend to agree with) Donnelly said at a recent press conference that 'Many of the people who I will be talking too are friends I've known many years' ( This comes from someone who persistently complains about the influence of the 'education establishment' in his writing. It seems he has his own cronies to consult with) Boston went on to say that 'Pyne launched the review to divert attention from inequality of opportunity in the education system.'
The timing of this review is odd ( is it a distraction from huge funding cuts? ) It has the potential to cause significant disruption to schools (We have only just completed our AusVELS implementation policy and reported to parents using AusVELS for the first time last year.) The 'two man band' review and the suggestion that changes could be implemented at the start of the 2015 year demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding as to how curriculum changes are implemented, especially at VCE level.
The grubby circumstances surrounding the establishment of this review seriously undermines it's credibility ( appointing 2 members of the Liberal Party fan club) even before it begins.There has been a fair bit of back peddling by Pyne ( Did he think this wouldn't be noticed during school holidays?) and he has been at pains to say that Donnelly and Wiltshire have been specifically asked to ensure that the curriculum is diverse and balanced.
I was up at school this morning for 5 hours ( 13 children will require a lot more planning and preparation time) and prepared iPads and learning tasks for the first half of the week. Yesterday grade 4-6 children wrote their 'what I did on the holidays' story with a twist by writing them as newspaper front pages.( refer to the photo)