Our “Research Dollars” hard at work

TimAndrews1 (2)Tim Andrews looks at taxpayer For What Artists Think of the NBN, Medieval Sexism Necessitating Christ Was A Man, The Cultural Impact of Iranian Pop Singers And More: 

Following up from my previous post about taxpayer funded radical leftist propaganda masquerading as “research” grants,  I decided to have a look at some of the other grants that were made in 2012 by the Australian Research Council and also in the Discover Category (for younger researchers)

This has got to be my favourite:

The cultural economy of Australian artist-run initiatives which develop an  understanding of a diverse range of artists’ practices, including in relation to the National Broadband Network which  will contribute to policy development for a more vibrant Australian arts landscape ($320,906.00).

Because, that’s right, the opinion of artists in relation to the NBN, is worth of funding.

Although this one comes a very close second:

Sexing scholasticism: gender in medieval thought 1150-1520. This is about… wait for it … “medieval theological debates about why it was necessary that Christ was born as a man” which grants “access to ideas about  masculinity and femininity held by the elite ruling cultures of western Europe” ($357,630.00)

Gender seems a bit of a theme:

How Gender Shapes The World: A Linguistic Perspective. This project will seek to understand and explain gender roles in Australian society, and in nearby nations. Emphasis is placed on training researchers with an immigrant or minority background, working towards the empowerment of women researchers. This will enhance our nation’s capacity to interpret and manage gender roles in multicultural contexts. TOTAL COST: $2,416,141.00

Other ones I noted included:

Mediating the Conversation‘ is an international study of how public participation is facilitated and regulated in online  news and opinion sites. It will evaluate approaches to managing comments and interaction, and will produce best  practice guidelines for news media on promoting inclusive, productive online conversations” ($364,950.00),

Revisiting the foundations of mainstream economics: a cooperative account of wellbeing and moral improvement” which “presents a major theoretical challenge to the individualistic definition of wellbeing that defines mainstream economics ($371,931.00 to promote Marxism, essentially)

A historical study of modern Iran and its diaspora through the music, career and cultural significance of pop star Googoosh: $373,391.00

Secularism in nineteenth-century America: a history $338,512.00 

He’s not heavy, he’s my brother: the acquisition of kinship terminology in a morphologically complex Australian language ($375,000.00)

Children’s active video games: family perceptions, uses and negotiations $365,314.00

Listening to country – Indigenous dance dramaturgy in remote Australia will identify a theory and practice of dramaturgy which ‘listens’ to place, history and  community($322,747.00)

Should I stay or should I go: the extent to which people’s willingness to risk their lives to save animals during natural disasters ($371,622.00)

The public face of the Public Service: whether the  trend towards greater public engagement by public servants fundamentally changes our traditional understandings of how a public service operates  $358,890.00

The Australian penal colonies and British print culture, 1786-1900:  an investigation of the literature surrounding convict transportation and the  Australian penal colonies, and its relationship to British print culture in the nineteenth century ($289,185.00)

Retail price promotions in Australia: are consumers really better off? retail price promotions can confuse consumers, leading to poor purchase decisions.($374,057.00)

Construction of the Bali Peace Park as counterterrorism  which will explore how individuals and communities engage with the Peace Park as a form of counter terrorism ($375,000.00)

Wellbeing, preferences, and basic goods  Since individual choice and public policy aim at promoting wellbeing, it is crucial to understand what wellbeing is. This project develops an account of wellbeing that is grounded in individual preferences, but acknowledges that  people sometimes desire what is harmful to them. ($337,940.00)

I also discovered that there was a special “Discovery Indigenous” category, which granted funding for projects such as: Enhancing the quality of academic supervision provided to Indigenous Australian doctoral students ($109,527.00), literary representations of Aboriginal Australians by non-Aboriginal authors in the post-Mabo period ($41,000), and Early collections of Warlpiri cultural heritage ($513,000.00)

I also started cataloging some of the climate change and environment related ones: 

(Management of Coral Reefs: $2,511,216.00, Coral reef metabolism in a rapidly changing climate: $3,032,447.00, A new paradigm for quantifying the resilience of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification and global warming: $3,229,566.00, Surrogate ecology: when and where can it work to improve environmental management? $2,849,770.00, Sea level change and climate sensitivity $3,079,069.00, Protonic materials for green chemical futures $2,879,582.00, Inter-ocean exchange around Australia and its relation to regional and global climate: 374,354.00, : does microbial priming of degraded seagrasses contribute to global warming?$375,000.00),  Developing predictions of extinction risk for tropical arthropods in the face of global environmental change ($364,015.00), Safe long-term storage of carbon dioxide in coal seams (374,905.00), The further back we look, the further forward we can see: 1,000 years of past climate to help predict future climate change in Australia ($351,805.00)…

But there were too many of them, so I gave up and stopped. 

And then people wonder why we have a budget deficit…  

Tim Andrews is Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, and Publisher of Menzies House. 

Our schools get a FAIL!

That this report card comes as a surprise will surprise many. Our educators spend too much time with socialist indoctrination. Students are being taught what to think rather than how to think. The results have been obvious for a long time.

GC. Ed.

Australia ranked 27th out of 45 countries for reading, with 21 of those countries performing significantly better. Hong Kong topped the rankings, with Finland, Russia, the US and England outranking Australia.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/maths-and-english–nation-could-do-better-20121211-2b7vl.html#ixzz2Em1HfXFY

Only 10% learning to talk the PM’s message

To dream is to soar but it must be done with two feet firmly planted on the ground lest one plummet earthward. Ms Gillard has not said how her dream will be financed. With a litany of financial disasters on file, why would this plan be any different to the NBN, pink bats, BER, live cattle export, etc, etc? 

Anna Patty in the SMH writes about Ms Gillard's ambitious dream to infuse Asian languages into our daily lives. Being multi-lingual is a practical pursuit. While Ms Patty highlights the shortage of teachers and other obstacles, completly omitted is COST!

SMH: JUST under 10 per cent of NSW public school students are learning
Asian languages – far short of the Prime Minister's ''Asian Century''
target to give every child the opportunity.

Figures from the NSW Department of Education show that of 726,870 public
school students in kindergarten to year 12, just 71,343 were learning
an Asian language last year.

Julia Gillard says she wants every child to have the opportunity to
learn either Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian by 2025 and every
school must be linked with a school in Asia.

Only 17 students studied Hindi for the Higher School Certificate exams this year and none were taught at school.

News Limited reported: The Asia Education Foundation yesterday estimated it would cost about
$100 million a year to double the number of students studying an Asian
or other foreign language.

Brain Science Education: A new era of educational innovations

Sun Yong Kim cover pictureSun-Yong Kim offers his views on the new field in teaching – Connectomics.

is an indisputable fact of life that the technological revolution has come to
dominate most aspects of modern life. In recent times, it has filtered through
towards the education sector in ways that has the potential to fundamentally
transform the way we teach children for the better. The development of the new
field of Connectomics holds the ability to modify and adapt teaching strategies
towards new understandings of how the student brain operates. By being able to
create a map of the brain through neural imaging and histological techniques,
connectomics will allow educators to craft educational strategies directly
aimed at increasing the speed, efficiency, and resolution of neural connections
in the nervous system in a way that will maximise learning speed.

beauty of Connectomics lies in the understanding that it gives educators in
relation to the inherent structure of the human brain. Our most basic
endeavours into Connectomics have taught educators a great deal. In essence,
the brain possesses 100 billion neurons that are connected to each other by
10,000 times as many connections, the jungle of our densely packed neural wires
run millions of miles in our brains. Connectomics tells us that it is precisely
in these connections that our soul is encoded – the way we understand the
world, reflect on our experiences, feel sorrow and joy, accumulate memories,
and decide how and when to act. By understanding the way our neurons connect –
our connectome – we would be able understand ourselves. By understanding
ourselves, it will be made very easy to maximise learning speeds. Fortunately
Connectomics allows us to do just that and the effects on effective teaching
are already paying off. Consider the case of Scientific Learning.

Learning, a company run by brain scientists in Berkley, Florida have developed
educational strategies through its fast for word program which uses
connectomics informed brain science technology to maximise cognitive skills
that enhance critical language and reading skills such as vocabulary,
comprehension, decoding, working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills
necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader. The result has
been astounding with case studies in Thailand showing that students have
achieved 1 years’ worth of academic achievement in the space of 4 months whilst
students in Bermuda significantly improved their early reading skills with
expressive language skills improving from the 13th percentile to the 33th
percentile. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential
educational benefits of Connectomics.

the potential for connectomics is huge, the field is still relatively in
scientific infancy. The only known scientific endeavour into the feed has been
the Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Jeff Lichtman
and his team of researchers at Harvard on using connectomics to explain the
brain of a mouse. Lichtman and his researchers have built some unusual
contraptions that carve off slivers of mouse brains as part of a quest to
understand how the mind works. Their goal is to run slice after minuscule slice
under a powerful electron microscope, develop detailed pictures of the brain’s
complex wiring and then stitch the images back together. In short, they want to
build a full map of the mind. By using this process to bring a visual map of
the mouse brain, it will then be made possible to do the same for human brain
maps. Whilst the human brain is more complex, the success of the basic process
will be crucial for the human brain model.

the foreseeable future however any application of connectomics will remain a
pipedream. Litchman believes that it will take several years to build the
connectome of the mouse, let alone a human connectome. Whilst breakthroughs in
connectomics are yet to be seen, the field has seen much financing which is
room for hope. In September, the National Institutes of Health handed out $40
million in grants to researchers at Harvard, Washington University in St.
Louis, the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Los
Angeles, to pursue connectomics. Together, their research efforts comprise the
Human Connectome Project. What is even more encouraging is that scientists
around the world, including Stephen J. Smith, a neuroscience professor at
Stanford, and Gerald M. Rubin, a researcher with the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute, have pushed past the naysayers and developed varying techniques for
mapping the brains and nervous systems of human as well as other creatures.
These efforts should make us optimistic that the development of Connectomics is
only a question of when with the potential educational benefits just around the

Sun Yong Kim studies Commerce/Law at Macquarie University and is a member of the Young Liberal movement. He has also launched a policy magazine/blog, Aus Solutions. www.aussolutions.com.au

What’s really wrong with National History Curriculum

MarucaAlessia Maruca presents her view on the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.

It was with
great trepidation at 8:30 this morning I clicked on the headline link ‘Howard
revives History Wars’ on my daily Capital Circle
email from the Australian. The media love ‘the history wars’. It’s a debate
that has no real finite conclusion and is a story that ‘just keeps giving’. But
it’s not the real issue here.

To preface the
rest of this article I must declare that I agree we need a national curriculum.
I agree with John Howard’s assessment of what historical events and changes
should be included within our national history syllabus. But I also acknowledge
Professor Barry McGraw AO’s rebuttal statement, on behalf of ACARA, that
specifically details where within the proposed curriculum students have the
opportunity to learn about Australia’s western heritage.

However, that
is not the real problem.

The real
problem with the proposed national curriculum is the actual criteria students
are assessed against. As a history minor, it makes me physically
terrified.  To illustrate the
entire point of this article, I have prepared a handy example comparative table
using a Queensland context.


The ability for
a young Australian citizen to be able to critically analyse sources of
information is paramount. I really don’t think I need to convince people
reading this why that is.

The criteria
listed in this table are the exact criteria each student must satisfy in order
to say that they've thoroughly analysed a primary or secondary source. In a
middle years history setting, students would be expected to analyze on average
4-8 sources for each assignment. These analysis criteria are explicitly
mentioned in each separate curriculum document.

But as you can
clearly see, there is a pronounced difference in what ACARA expects from our
students. Year 10 history students in Queensland would trade in Relevance, Bias, Authenticity and Perspective for Usefulness, Origin and Context. The devil is in the details –



When and where was this source written and by

How well does this source represent the overall
picture of what was happening during this period? What is the point of view
is being represented by this source?

How important is this source in terms of time
and place in history? How does it link to our specific study?

How beneficial or practical is this source to
our specific study?

Is this source providing first hand details or
have parts, or all of it, been altered?

Origin – What is
the point in which this source comes into existence or from which it derives?

What historical events and/or issues may have
influenced or shaped an author’s viewpoint?

Context – What is the
set of circumstances or facts that surround the author of the source?

Accuracy – Given what we know/researched how ‘correct’ is this source? How
‘accurate’ are the details provided?


These QSA
criteria definitions have been adapted from a history factsheet currently in
use around Brisbane’s secondary schools. The ACARA definitions have been
adapted from their dictionary definitions by this author for the history
discipline. To me, the proposed ACARA terms seem ‘simple’ in comparison. And
the further omission of a criteria equal to that of ‘accuracy’ sees that
students are not encouraged to deem something ‘correct’. Of course what I have
adapted and outlined above is open to criticism. But I do not believe that
‘simplifying’ our expectations of our students will achieve anything positive.

the ACARA criteria bare little to no resemblance to current QSA senior history
criteria. This just creates the additional burden of re-training year 11 and 12
students in the correct senior syllabus terminology. I’d anticipate that ACARA
will eventually release corresponding standards for senior history, but I’m not
envisioning any improvement on the already very practical (and catchy) QSA

potential worry in the ACARA standards is the re-naming of the learning area
objectives for middle years history. Current QSA practice is to use
cross-curricular learning
, which
‘identify what is important for students to be taught and what is important for
students to learn’ in each subject area. These ‘statements’ or ‘learning
objectives’ are broken down into knowledge and understanding and ways of working. Within the History Learning Area
document the QSA sets out the subject-specific guidelines using these
cross-curricular headings.

ACARA, on the other hand, goes one step further
and re-names these learning objectives to historical knowledge and
and historical
. Whilst this
appears to be more in line with current senior history learning area
objectives, it effectively creates a form of comprehension confusion for
teachers working cross-curricular. In fact, it’s almost hypocritical
considering ACARA’s major focus on cross-curriculum outcomes.

But I digress, whilst public discourse
continues to focus on the content of this curriculum this point of this article
will just get lost in the fray. As a soon to be tertiary-qualified historian, I
appeal to our parliamentarians and foremost media commentators – step away from
the well worn ideological trenches for a moment and consider our speedily
slipping standards. Our nation’s future depends on it.

Alessia Maruca is a current Journalism,
Communications and History student at the Queensland University of Technology
in Brisbane. She also chairs the Brisbane Central Young Liberal-Nationals and
can be found on twitter at @alessiamaruca.

Gonski – and the illusion of education

Colin RobinsonColin Robinson makes sense about education, tradies, Gonski and a better way to spend $5.5 billion. He proves a degree is not prerequisite to be smart and to have a grasp on reality.

 Almost thirty years ago our then Prime Minister made a declaration that Australia stop being the "Lucky Country" and becoming the
"Clever Country". It has a nice ring to it; Clever Country. People
have used it a lot since. But what does it mean? For Bob Hawke it meant getting
kids to stay at school longer and get their Higher School Certificate instead
of their School Certificate. He did this for a reason. He wanted the
unemployment hike that happened every February as those kids left school to
look for a job, didn't find one and ended up on the dole. This looked very bad
for a Labor Prime Minister. This was still in the days when unemployment
mattered to the Labor Party. By having these kids join the dole queue it showed
up the lack of work for our youths and the generally high unemployment figures
in general. By declaring that he wanted to make us the Clever Country he, with
the help of vested interests like the Teachers Union, started a push that is
still going on today. Make kids get their HSC! Without the HSC you have no
future! The HSC is the gateway to wealth! Education is the gateway to improving
your lot in life!

What rot. The only thing that guarantees that you will improve your lot
in life is hard work.

I am not saying that education is bad or a waste of time and money, but
I am sick and tired of people who think it is the be-all end-all. I am sick of
those who look down upon anyone without a degree as some sort of failure. I
don't have one and I am not a failure. Tradesmen are not failures. Those that
work as labourers, truckies, tradies, riggers, scaffolders, builders…are not

Forget Gonski. Put the 5.5 billion dollars a year that is needed to fund
this scheme into putting young people into jobs instead. Start an apprentice
scheme where kids can start after their School Certificate – which I know is
now redundant…BRING IT BACK!! – and put them to work. Subsidise them in the
workplace so that employers can afford them. No apprentice earns money for the employer
in the first two years of their apprenticeship. Employers need them to be
subsidised to make it worth their while. In the old days employers looked at it
as an investment in their future. Now, people move on from jobs every few
years. Start them in employment at 16. This does two things:

1. It gets kids out of school who do not want to be there. Unless they
have a desire to move into Uni most see it as a chore. They get bored. They get
into gangs and strife. Give them jobs where they are split from their mates
except after work and weekends. Give them some pride in themselves. Give them a
mentor who is not a parent; not a teacher and not a cop. The Leading Hand
brickie or plumber will clip them under the ear and keep them straight.

2. With less students going on to years 11 and 12 there is automatically
more money per student and a better student/teacher ratio for those who have
the desire for more study.

Don't expect to see any party run with this anytime soon. It is too
daring, goes against the current mode of thinking…and makes too much bloody

To learn what Colin brings to the table, and it's a veritable smorgasbord! look here.

On School Chaplains and Religious Freedom

Bill-MuehlenbergBill Muehlenberg looks at today's High Court decision on school chaplain funding, and asks whether it might not be time for Christian organisations to start refusing taxpayer funding:

A High Court ruling has declared that government funding of the school chaplaincy program is invalid according to the Australian constitution. This ruling raises many issues and many questions, and is a very important decision indeed.

One news report covers the story this way:

The High Court has ruled that the national school chaplaincy program is constitutionally invalid because it exceeds the Commonwealth’s funding powers. In a landmark decision that could cast doubt on other areas of Commonwealth funding, the court this morning upheld a challenge to the scheme by Queensland father Ron Williams.

The Howard government introduced the scheme in 2007, offering schools up to $20,000 a year to introduce or extend chaplaincy services. One of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers George Williams said the implications of the case were massive and could potentially affect any program directly funded by the federal government.

The ruling came about as a result of a challenge a Toowoomba father made about the chaplaincy program. The ramifications of this decision may well be far reaching, and it is too early to tell just what all the implications of this will be.

The report continues:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Queanbeyan that he wanted the chaplaincy program to continue but noted that he hadn’t yet seen the court’s decision. ‘We invented the program, we support the program, we want it to continue,’ he said. ‘Let’s have a look at the decision and let’s see what the government has in mind. I think it would be a real pity if this program wasn’t able to continue.’

Scripture Union Queensland, Australia’s largest employer of chaplains, which was the defendant to the High Court action, said today’s decision was about a particular historical funding model. ‘Even though that model might be invalid, it does not keep chaplains from supporting school communities,’ chief executive officer Peter James said. ‘Instead, it means that a new funding model is needed.’

The High Court decision that government funding of chaplaincy in Queensland schools is invalid is only ‘a technicality’ and will not mean the end of the program, Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace said today. ‘The government is committed to the program and I expect it will find an appropriate way of directing the funds,’ Brigadier Wallace said. ‘There’s no challenge to the religious aspect. I’d anticipate it will move quickly – we are talking about a bureaucratic solution’.

SU Queensland, which was the focus of this case, put out a press release saying in part:

“The High Court of Australia today ruled the Federal Government’s direct funding model is not valid. The Court left open the option for the Government to continue funding either under new legislation or a grant of funds to the states and territories. SU QLD Incoming CEO Peter James said the decision meant that the great work chaplains do across the nation will continue as long as the Government acts swiftly to ensure the funding continues.

“He said, although the historical funding model does not work, the court unanimously held there is no problem of ‘church – state’ separation from chaplaincy and that other funding models are possible. ‘Chaplains provide an important child and youth welfare role. This is recognised by the school principals and school communities who have chosen to have a “chappy”,’ he said.

“‘This decision means that for the vital work of chaplains to continue, we need a new funding model. We will be working with the Federal Government to ensure that happens.’ Mr James said that over 2000 school communities across Australia have chaplains and many will lose their chaplains if a new federal funding model is not put in place.”

Because it is early days yet, and because I am certainly not a legal eagle, my thoughts on this must be both tentative and limited. But a few general remarks can be made. While a program like this has done a tremendous amount of good, and helped countless children, the new strident atheism which is growing in voice and militancy is a factor to be reckoned with.

This particular father who initiated the case is obviously not a great fan of the faith, and it was his objections that have led to this outcome. Such opposition to faith-based charitable works like this is rather recent. In the not-too-distant past most Australians – even non-Christian Australians – would not have taken offence at such a program.

But the new atheism popularised by people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens has resulted in a new activism by the secularists and misotheists. And given that the West is no longer just post-Christian but increasingly anti-Christian, we can expect to see more of these sorts of cases and decisions.

Moreover, given these realities, this case opens up the much bigger issue of just how dependent Christian groups of any kind – be they churches, Bible schools, charities, parachurch groups, and so on – should be on any form of government funding.

The simple truth is, as the saying goes, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. That is, whenever groups receive state monies, the state can dictate how that money is used, and they can radically curtail or restrict what these religious bodies do and say. They pull the strings, and the groups must act accordingly.

This is a major theological, political and historical issue which cannot be fully entered into here. But one historical point might be noted. Many decades ago groups like the National Civic Council lobbied governments to extend education funding to Catholic schools.

This was seen as a real justice issue. Simply put, religious folks who sent their kids to non-government schools were facing double jeopardy. They had to pay their taxes to support the public school system even though they did not directly benefit from it. Then they had to pay for the Catholic education as well – so they were getting slugged twice.

So in the 1960s changes were made and government funding became available for Catholic schools. That seemed to work fine at first, but as I mentioned, as governments get increasingly secular and hostile to religion, and as various activist groups keep demanding and getting special rights, this then puts real pressure on any religious body getting government funding.

For example, the whole raft of equal opportunity laws and anti-discrimination legislation includes all sorts of pro-homosexual agendas, which many religious schools would not be happy with. Often there are now exemptions for these groups, but they are tenuous at best, and could be withdrawn at any time.

Thus given this adversarial climate, increasingly religious bodies getting public funds will be asked – or demanded – to do things which violate their own religious principles and scruples. So what is to be done? That is a question I will not seek to finally answer here, but it is a vitally important question which must be raised.

It seems to me as Christian persecution intensifies, and anti-Christian bigotry becomes solidified, including at government levels, then all real churches and religious groups need to ask themselves some hard questions. How long can they feed at the government trough and not be compromised? At what point must they reject such funding?

Maybe they need to fully trust God for their finances, and not put all their faith – or so much of it – in the state. Those religious bodies which are getting government funds: what will they do? Will they prefer to compromise their convictions and water down their beliefs and practises, simply to keep getting the money?

Or will they take a stand on principle, and renounce such funding in the interests of maintaining pure policy, teaching and practice? Many religious bodies have not yet reached this place of decision – but they may soon well. Thus it is incumbent on all religious groups to think through these matters hard and long, before it becomes too late.

Bill Muehlenberg is a Melbourne based author who lectures part time in ethics, theology and philosophy. He has an interactive blogsite called CultureWatch

A Devalued Curriculum of a Devalued History


The Hon. Dr. Peter Phelps MLC celebrates the end of the School Certificate, arguing it is a tool of propaganda, not eduction: 

Under the former School Certificate arrangement, students were tested in English, mathematics, science, computing skills and Australian history, geography, civics and citizenship—the paper that most engrossed me. Do members think I could resist the temptation of going through the 2010 edition of the Australian history, geography, civics and citizenship paper? No, I could not.

I put myself in the position of a malleable 15-year-old being taught by a teacher of the same general variety as Dr John Kaye. I said to myself, "That would be a fairly reasonable position to put myself in."

Dr John Kaye has not taught in secondary schools, but I imagined that he had. I put Dr John Kaye in front of the social studies classroom and asked myself, "If I were doing a course in Australian history, civics and citizenship what would I be hearing from Dr John Kaye—or someone like him, roughly proximate, within the general stratosphere of the New South Wales Teachers Federation? What would I be taught?"

The first page of the test asks about the United Nations and UNESCO. The next page also asks about the United Nations and this time it has a quote about the founding of the United Nations. Named there significantly is former Labor Prime Minister Forde and former Minister for External Affairs, Dr H. V. Evatt. Where did this come from? It is a direct quote from a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade document that has been placed in this test for malleable minds to think about. It states:

As a founding member of the United Nations, Australia has long supported the UN's key role in world affairs.

That is well and good, but if we go back to some of the contemporary scholarship about Doc Evatt we find that some of his views about the United Nations were substantially different from the hagiography that has been heaped upon him in the years since.

As I recall, during a discussion on the role of the great powers and the security council he said—it is not purported because it is included in Department of External Affairs documents—"I don't care about the great nations and their veto power as long as we are part of them." In other words, this great internationalist did not care as long as Australia had a say. So H. V. Evatt is brought into the test. Then there is more on the United Nations.

It is a good thing the School Certificate is being abolished because I am demonstrating that as an educational device it is useless and as a propaganda device it is very good—especially when the sort of teacher one might expect from the New South Wales Teachers Federation is teaching the course. No doubt a well-balanced view of the United Nations would come from the sort of teacher that Dr Kaye would be.


On page 6 we come up against Aboriginal culture in the 1950s, with discussion about assimilationism, integration, the 1967 referendum and the Stolen Generations. I can imagine how that would be taught. Page 7 includes an extract from Paul Keating's Redfern speech, which covers most of the page. I wonder how the Mabo decision would be taught and what the right answers would be as far as certain people are concerned.

The Korean War is also taught. I will relate a personal experience. The history teacher at my school reported that one of the great achievements in his teaching career was turning a Korean student against his family by explaining the Marxist interpretation of the Korean War—another great example.

The School Certificate test deals also with the Communist Party Dissolution Act and Prime Minister Menzies. I have no idea who would be portrayed as the good guys and who would be portrayed as the bad guys. There then follows more on the 1951 referendum. Then we come to the Vietnam War. Will our soldiers be portrayed well or will it be the protest element? Will it be the men and women of the Royal Australian Regiment or the Vietcong who are the heroes in this? Indeed, one of the first questions on the Vietnam War asks which Australian Prime Minister supported Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

What has been conveniently not been included in the question is that Arthur Calwell was a very strong supporter of fighting the Communist insurgency in South Vietnam; he only disagreed with the way of doing it. He was opposed to conscription but he was very happy to support Diem and his regime in South Vietnam. Of course, there is no mention of that—only who supported and who opposed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.


We then move on to conscientious objectors. I wonder who the heroes will be in that story. There is a photo of people burning their national service registration cards. I wonder who the heroes are in that little story. Finally, the test asks: What was the main aim of the schools' moratorium campaign? We see all the way through these questions with multiple-choice answers that there is a right question—or maybe we should say there is a left answer. There is a left answer to each of these questions and to score full marks students have to recite the same leftist mantra that will give them those marks.

Finally, we come to the essay section. The first topic is: Outline one change in the lives of women or migrants in post-World War II Australia. That is fair enough. The second is: Why is the Petrov affair considered an important event in Australia's response to the threat of communism? I wonder how many 15-year-old school students are going to be assigned Robert Manne's book on the Petrov affair—which, despite Manne's predilections for left-wing enthusiasms, remains the defining account. I wonder how many of those students will be given access to information about the Venona decrypts, which demonstrated that there were comprehensive Soviet networks in Australia? I wonder how many year 10 students even know about the Venona decrypts—or will they just hear about how Bob Menzies was a horrible beast who tried to outlaw free speech in Australia? I have a pretty good idea what version they would get if the Dr Kayes of the world were teaching them.


The test continues: Select a Prime Minister from the box below—Ben Chifley, Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton, Billy McMahon, Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd.  Where is Black Jack McEwen? No, there is no censorship. Just keep walking.

The next question is about the rights and freedoms of Aboriginal people in the twentieth century. Again, I am sure there will be certain views that should be expressed to get maximum marks. Finally, we got to geography and I thought, "Thank heavens, there are maps and latitude and longitude and location of seas." But wait on—here we go:


People who flee a country because of human rights abuses are known as

(A) emigrants
(B) immigrants
(C) refugees
(D) tourists

Another question asks:

Chris believes that people should act responsibly towards the environment and community. Chris always takes rubbish home to recycle after a day out.

What is Chris demonstrating?

(A) Social justice
(B) Active citizenship
(C) Corporate responsibility
(D) Environmental degradation

Here we go: "What issue affecting Australian environments is represented by source B?" Again, it is more greenie environmentalism. There are a few more maps and a few more graphs and then we come to ecological sustainability. Oh no, there is no political agenda here. Not much! Just play right to The Greens' strengths; play to the sorts of things that make people google "ecological sustainability".


The next essay is about proposed development in an environmentally sensitive area. What are students supposed to do? They must identify a group likely to oppose one of the proposed developments—not support one of the developments—and describe the likely impact of one of these proposed developments on the environment. There is nothing about jobs, nothing about employment, nothing about tourism, nothing about increasing productivity—nothing like that. But we certainly want to find out who would want to oppose those sorts of developments. But wait, there's more.

The next question is about negative future impacts on the Australian environment. The question after that is about Australia's global and regional links and asks the student to choose from aid, defence, migration or trade. Finally, what can only be described as the Bob Carr question asks the student to discuss Australia's current and future population trends. Guess what the correct answer will be for that one? It depends on whether you follow the Bob Carr school of limited growth and lack of development or whether you believe in an Australia that is going forward and promoting itself to the world.

It is good that the School Certificate is dead and buried if this is the standard of teaching. It is good that no longer will students' malleable 15-year-old minds be manipulated by left-wing academics who try to create a new generation of green left-wing extremists through the education system. I commend the Minister for his efforts.

Peter Phelps is the Government Whip in the New South Wales Legislative Council, and is a former long-term staffer in the Howard Government. He has a PhD in Australian History.  

Gonski completely missed the point




Dean Hamstead discusses how he believes our education system is flawed, and how only greater choice (and not Gonski's ridgid anti-private ideology) is the way forward:


Whilst the government looks for an excuse to clip funding to private schools, (which taken 2 years to come up with a 'recommendation' to suit their ideology) , the real problems with the education system are being completely over looked.
I'm not talking about sending another truck down to an Apple store to pick up more iGadgets at the taxpayers expense; when people talk about "fixing" education in Australia, these sorts of ideas that are thrown around are about as effective as a new color of paint on the fences. What i am talking about are the real problems that parents know are there but no one articulates. I believe these issues include:-

– Parents and students aren't free to choose a school of their liking
– Students aren't free to excel, instead they are discriminated against based on age
– Schools aren't free to hire and fire as they wish
– Teachers aren't rewarded with higher pay for better results.

–  Schools aren't free to pay more to get better teachers

I would like to briefly discuss each of these.


Firstly, I'm not talking about private schools – we all know parents going to great lengths to get their children in to 'better' public schools. They bend enrollment rules using the address of a friend, or going to the extreme of renting briefly in the schools area. If parents aren't happy with their local public school they really have no option. The formative years of their childs are then severely impacted based on the rules of bureaucrats. Who knows better what's best for your child, better than yourself and your child? How ridiculous then that parents put up with defaulting to the school who has a government enforced monopoly on your locale!

Secondly, in a society so keen to classify people and then stamp out any hint of discrimination, in our schools we classify our children by their age then hold back those above the average and humiliate those who cant keep up. Then to top if off, in a culture so keen to recognize the value of diversity, schools insist that a child must have the same ability in math, english, science, and all their subjects. As such the whole grade system is totally broken. When else in a persons life are they isolated to a group of people only their own age? Does it happen at home? Or the work place? perhaps in University? There is simply no other example. I propose that doing so is completely unnatural, and that it is a root cause of bullying as it creates classes (literally) and as such is one cause of the epidemic of stunted social skills.

Thirdly, we all remember the bad teachers. To be fair, often as a student what made teachers good and bad may not be well based in desirable attributes. But chances are many of the teachers we liked were the same teachers who motivated us to do the most work and achieve the highest marks. In our own workplaces we all know the people who drag down the organisation, the dead branches if you will. Schools have these same dead branches but they have no way to prune them! On the flip side, schools hire based on 'points' – a ridiculous system which punishes young enthusiastic and talented teachers in favor of the hanger-ons. So many of these young vibrant teachers are stuck in casual teaching or forced to head to the unwanted positions in unpopular areas. Imagine if Facebook or Google hired based on points?

Fourth, I often discourage my friends, and question the sanity of deciding to go in to education. How bizarre that no matter how well you perform, to be unable to claim a higher wage? How ridiculous that teachers producing say 20% better marks on average, aren't rewarded with 20% more pay? And further more, why can't parents pay choose to pay 20% more to have their child taught by this student?

Although I do not yet have a child, I am very concerned about the broken education system. These issues I see as being seriously broken. I'm also concerned how little opportunity their is to break out of the mould of one teacher and a class. I like that some schools are experimenting with group teaching environments, and I like the different approaches that Steiner schools take. What would be better still is for real free market principles to drive clever people to find new ways to connect with young people, to allow parents to chose the best school for their child and for children to learn at their own paces, not being held back or dragged along.

Dean Hamstead is a Sydney-based Telecommunications and Computing Engineer who specialises in open source systems and works for a major Telco. He has also spent a number of years working abroad and for local government, and his hobbies are running regular computer gaming events and sailing yachts. 

First Order Of Business for Mr Pyne MP: Stop Partisan Doctrine in our Schools

Andys RantDon’t worry about the Gonski Review Christopher Pyne. Your first order of business when you become the Federal Minister for Education is to emulate Arizona’s new approach and empower school principals to sack any teacher who brings their partisan doctrine into the classroom.


Teachers in Arizona would automatically be fired for bringing “partisan doctrine” into their classrooms under a bill pending before the state legislature.

Arizona Senate bill 1202 is meant to ensure students get a balanced view of what they’re taught in school. In addition to firing teachers who bring partisanship into the classroom, school districts that allow it to happen would face losing state funding.

Arizona GOP congressional candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer testified in favour of the bill, telling lawmakers: “I have seen, firsthand, the damage done to our young students by partisans who pretend to be educators.

I have seen young students who, through classroom indoctrination rather than instruction, were incited to threaten and harass anyone who disagrees with their position,” Mercer said.


The second order of business is to stop showing Al Gore’s BS propaganda movie – An Inconvenient Truth to school children.


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