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Back to School

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Significance of Australia Day

Celebration of Australia Day occurs around the same time as students return to school. Both raise similar hoary issues subject to political activism.

The chosen date for celebration on 26 January acknowledges the day in 1788 when Captain Arthur Philip, with nine ships of marines, convicts and supplies, landed in Sydney Cove and laid the foundations of one of the world’s most successful liberal democracies. According to detailed records of the first fleet documented by Trent Dalton, Philip was charged with a mandate to establish a colony based on equality of all under the law, in keeping with the tenets of western civilization.

Despite human imperfections in the process, Philip and those who followed have been largely successful. Unprecedented levels of personal freedom and social equality since achieved continue to attract people from over the world.

For instance, we don’t see illegal immigrants setting off on dangerous journeys in small boats to settle in restrictive dictatorships where there is no separation of powers between the ruling elite and the law, no freedom of speech, thought, religion or movement. For that we have to thank the Enlightenment and the constantly refining traditions of western civilization. That is worth celebrating, regardless of the rewriting of history. First Australians have been presented with opportunity to step up and join the world, as many already have.

Let’s leave the self-loathing behind to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements, however imperfect. Have a happy Australia Day!

Beware the curriculum

Parents need to be aware of, and able to counter, the post-modern leftist themes of class, race and gender that, with climate change, permeate virtually every curriculum. History especially is being rewritten through the prism of political activism rather than linear facts and knowledge.

According to Bella d’Abrera,[1] we need to examine the way Australian history is being taught if we are to understand the self-loathing narrative pushed onto us by some Australians about the date of our national day.

D’Abrera draws a direct correlation between the version of our history taught in our universities and the story trotted out to Australians in the lead up to 26 January. Themes based on class, race and gender are all pervasive according to Australian History’s Last Stand, an audit of Australian history teaching at universities conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs. The report found that of 147 subjects taught across 35 universities last year, a total of 102 either focus on, or make reference to class, race and gender, ensuring our past is viewed through the lens of identity politics.

Historical evidence, objective truth and knowledge have been overtaken by political activist academics and social commentators, self-proclaimed champions of empowering minorities and the oppressed by rewriting history. In doing so, history is distorted to advance contemporary political agendas, or worse, ignored completely. D’Abrera found that the story of our success as a modern nation based on the ideas of liberalism is almost absent from the university curriculum and completely omitted from the narrative being pushed by the anti-Australia Day lobbyists.

Parental knowledge and responsibility

The issue for those returning to school is that they are likely to be taught historical distortions. Parents need to know differently if they are to present a countervailing point of view that enables students to be proud of what has been achieved in this country, yet still prepared to work on continuous improvements.

And parents are up for the task. A recent poll undertaken by the Institute of Public Affairs shows a significant divide between elite academics and commentators and the rest of mainstream Australia. Results showed that 75% of Australians want to keep Australia Day on 26 January; 76% are proud of Australia’s history; and 88% are proud to be Australian. Moreover, 92% think freedom of speech is important and 77% believe freedom of religion to be an important value.

Anyway it won’t be too long before the self-loathing elites turn their disdain to Anzac Day, pollute the hearts and minds of children pushing onto all the notion of gender fluidity that affects only a small percentage; traffic environmental falsehoods on climate change, the Great Barrier Reef and Adani; seek to deny protection for religious freedom; and violently punish through social media anyone choosing to exercise freedom of speech by presenting a different point of view to the elite gender, race, class and environment themes of the left.

Deciphering it all to become confident in our beliefs requires effort, especially in this year of disruption. But it can be done by seeking sound knowledge and challenging political activism.

It’s not going to be easy though. Makes one hanker somewhat for the “old days”. Back then the simple pleasure of the whiff of a new exercise book and a sharpened pencil were enough to stir excitement in anticipation of a new year of knowledge acquisition.

The effort will be worth it, as the politicisation of the learning of history, short on facts and devoid of humour, betrays our children, their education and their future.

Happy Australia Day! And best wishes for the year of learning ahead.

 

[1] Director of Foundations of Western Civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs

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