- Students to be taught that First Nations Australians see settlement as invasion
- ‘Christian heritage’ replaced by multi-faith in civics course
- Focus on different perspectives, such as the contested nature of Anzac Day
- Indigenous and Aboriginal replaced with First Nations Australians
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge says he is concerned the proposed emphasis on First Nations culture in the national curriculum has come at the expense of Australia’s Western heritage.
The draft national curriculum, unveiled on Thursday, has fired up a culture war over the nation’s foundations, with children to be taught that First Nations’ people experienced British colonisation “as invasion and dispossession of land, sea and sky”.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge says he is concerned about some of the proposed changes to the national curriculum.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Mr Tudge, who along with the state and territory educations minister will be required to sign off on the final curriculum, said he welcomed history being taught from an Indigenous perspective but he was concerned the right balance had not been struck.
“I think it is a good development that the draft national curriculum includes more emphasis on Indigenous history. I think we should honour our Indigenous history and teach that well,” Mr Tudge said on Sky News on Friday.
“Equally, that should not come at the expense of dishonouring our Western heritage, which has made us the liberal democracy that we are today. We have to get the balance right and I’m concerned that we haven’t in the draft that’s been put out.”
Asked whether he was concerned the changes would result in Invasion Day – the recognition of Australia Day as the beginning of Indigenous colonisation – being promoted in schools, Mr Tudge said he didn’t want “students to be turned into activists”.
“I want them to be taught the facts and they should understand and be taught the facts as it relates to Indigenous history from an Indigenous perspective as much as from a non-Indigenous perspective,” he said.
The review of the national curriculum, the first since 2014, found the themes in the current curriculum did not include enough “truth-telling” about the experience of First Nations Australians since European settlement and put too much emphasis on the period before contact with Europeans. It also proposed removing references to Australia’s “Christian heritage” out of civics in favour of terms such as secular and multi-faith, while history students would be taught that cultural touchstones such as the Anzac legend and Australia Day were contested.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority will seek public feedback on the draft for 10 weeks before finalising the new curriculum by the end of the year.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said it was important for students to learn about Australia’s Indigenous heritage but did not weigh in on the specific proposals.
“It is important that all Australian students are provided the opportunity to learn about the depth, wealth and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 65,000-year-old history and cultures and we want to ensure teachers are appropriately supported to embed Indigenous Australian perspectives in their classroom practice,” Mr Wyatt said.
Mr Tudge said he would be “looking for some changes” before he’d be prepared to approve the revised curriculum. On Thursday, he said he was “perplexed” by some of the proposed changes to maths, including teaching children to tell the time in year 2 instead of year 1.
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