Schools already shedding ‘white-washed’ version of history ahead of national curriculum review3rd May 2021
But Debra Bateman, Dean of Education at Flinders University and an expert on curriculum development, said the proposed changes to Australia’s curriculum reflected an increasingly sophisticated understanding of Aboriginal reconciliation and of Australia’s place in the world.
“History is not a singular narrative,” Professor Bateman said.
“In Australia, for a very long time we have kind of depended on a narrative of sameness, that to be an Australian means that we reflect a whole range of stereotypes.”
Debate about the proposed changes – which also include replacing reference to the nation’s “Christian heritage” with references to its multi-faith, cultural diversity – reflect a long-standing “tension between the traditional and the dominant cultural view and the emergent, changing world view”, she said.
Victoria has its own curriculum, which has the same cross-curriculum priorities as the national version. Reservoir East principal James Cumming said all the necessary material is already there within both existing curriculums to take a more “open” approach to teaching First Nations culture and history.
“When we are talking about the Australian curriculum there is a lot of smoke and mirrors, with people jumping up and down and talking about what they’ll lose, but for me it’s what you’ll gain by teaching a broader perception of what history is about,” Mr Cumming said.
At the Knox School, an independent coeducational school in Wantirna South that uses the Victorian curriculum, Australia’s history is also taught as something that is “contested”, principal Allan Shaw said.
“We try to place in front of the kids that there are differing perspectives on this,” Mr Shaw said.
“That often history is written by the winners, one, and, two, that’s not necessarily the whole truth or the only truth.
“History is often a contested space once you get past the bald facts of who arrived where and when.”
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