Oh Christopher, why oh why?

‘Ere we go again, guv! What a load of twaddle, your worship!  They’re at it again – what a flamin’ useless distraction.

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Sorry, wrong pic!

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Why do I keep doing that?

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The vice-regal stoush came as opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne appeared to re-open the so-called ”history wars” which raged during the Howard years, by attacking the school curriculum for putting Aboriginal and multicultural commemoration days on the same level as Anzac Day.

The national curriculum would be reviewed under a Coalition government, he said. ”The Coalition believes that, on balance, Australia’s history is a cause for celebration,” he said.

”It is because of our history that we are a confident and positive nation. We must not allow a confidence-sapping ‘black armband’ view of our history to take hold.

”That history, while inclusive of indigenous history, must highlight the pivotal role of the political and legal institutions from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

In the new curriculum Anzac Day is studied in year 3 as one of a number of days of national significance. The Gallipoli campaign is studied in year 9.

Mr Pyne criticised the fact that Anzac Day is ”locked in with NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Day and Harmony Day” in the national curriculum.

Mr Pyne’s sentiment was similar to that expressed by former prime minister John Howard, who last year accused the government of purging British history from the curriculum.

I might add that I would be quite chuffed to see Peter Cosgrove as Governor-General. But why on earth is Pyne rabbiting on so about Anzac Day which surely has been growing in respect and popularity this century?

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My Uncle Ken on the Western Front, 1918

See these older posts:

Terrible of me, I know, but the Pyne line on history, and the earlier manifestation of it under Howard, rather brings to mind the opposite of what they think they are doing – in reality sacrificing a mature and honest approach to our past, which I would have thought essential in a democracy. Let the Blimps and Chocolate Soldiers and Flagwavers rant and splutter, but I think we have been making progress over the past thirty years or so in telling our stories.

Compare and contrast Creating an age of critical minds by Shucao Mo in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Revolutionary-inspired heroes were the stars of my primary school Chinese literature textbooks. In my fifth-grade language instruction class in 2002, we would read aloud, in unison, phrases such as “Comrade, stone them!” and “The heroes were so passionate that their blood boiled”. These phrases were intended to leave us in awe of the martyrs’ patriotism and inspire our own nationalistic pride.

For the emerging middle class in China, this naked nationalist sentiment seems out of sync with the world they see around them. These role models do not provide students with the ”critical thinking” faculties they will need to navigate the 21st century. Parents and teachers are demanding for a much needed path for a national revival: education reform that can teach us how to love our country without prejudice and ignorance…

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