Monday, May 03, 2021

Mike O’Connor: It hasn’t been much fun being a bloke in Australia in 2021

There will be no Oscar for the government’s derided sexual consent “milkshake video” after the puerile $3.8 million educational commercial was dumped within days of its release.

There is, however, a video crying out to be made and which the government, if it has the courage, might like to entertain.

It would be inexpensive to make and would merely require a large room and one camera with all the cast appearing free of charge.

They would be exclusively male – fathers, grandfathers and sons – who would tell the audience how it hasn’t been much fun being a bloke in Australia in 2021.

They’d like to tell their story, the one in which they work to support and educate their partners and children. The grandfathers would relate how they have suffered through economic hardship and lived frugal lives so that when they die, they will have something to leave their children.

The sons will tell how they admire their fathers for their work ethic and their tireless support of them and their mothers and sisters and thank them for driving them to do their best in all their endeavours.

The fathers would speak of their love and admiration they have for their wives and their gratitude for their efforts in keeping the household functioning while juggling the twin burdens of work and domestic responsibilities.

They’d relate how they abhorred violence against women and would defend the female members of their tribe against any predator.

They would say that the concept of rape is completely foreign to their ethos. They hold certain principles close to their hearts – honesty, integrity and a belief in giving everyone a fair go – but above all else, they would tell their audience that rape or any form of forced sexual encounter is something that they have never and would never entertain.

They would tell the camera of the hurt that they have felt at the anger that has been directed towards their gender at large because of the widely publicised misdeeds of a few.

They feel the urge to stand on a street corner and shout; “we’re not all like that. Look at us. We are principled human beings who have always followed the course of our moral compass. We struggle to understand how anyone can act so callously towards their fellows of any sex.”

The women in their life they regard with a mixture of respect and awe, emotions rooted in the knowledge that there are so many things that they do better than men. It may not be something that they speak of publicly but it is a firmly held belief.

The sons would say that they hope to meet a partner and raise a family which they would support and protect. The fathers would say that they have tried to do the right thing by those who rely on them for support.

They have helped their parents through the latter stages of their lives and will continue to do so until the end while doing their best to provide a comfortable retirement for their partner while planning, in the best of Australian traditions, of “leaving something for the kids.”

The grandfathers would tell the camera how much they have seen things change and how they sometimes struggle to understand the attitudes and values of the younger generations.

They would say, however, that they taught their sons to respect their fellows and their property and to always be true to themselves.

These older citizens are perplexed beyond comprehension at the violence they see played out in television news bulletins. They have given up trying to understand it.

The fathers worry that their children will suffer some random attack while enjoying a night out with their mates but feel helpless to do much more than say “look after yourself. Stay safe” whenever they leave the house.

They worry because that is what caring, loving parents do.

The men would tell their audience that they know, from speaking to their peers, that a lot of men are beginning to feel like strangers in their own country and that they are being seen as being cast in the same mould as the men whose actions against women they find so repulsive.

They would say to the women of Australia – “Give us a fair go. We’re with you in this. We are all of the same nation and in this together. “

“If we hear any of our fellows showing disrespect to women, we will come down on them with all our force. That’s our job – protecting the women in our lives and it always has been.”

“All we ask in return is to judge us by our own actions, standards and principles and not to judge us by the actions of a few.”


Proposed changes to the national curriculum will see school students taught that First Nations Australians experienced European colonisation as an invasion.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) also advised the terms Aboriginal and Indigenous be replaced with First Nations Australians or Australian First Nations Peoples.

In a report released for discussion on Thursday, ACARA said it found a lack of 'truth telling' about the experience of First Nations Peoples since European settlement, and raised concerns about the 'accuracy and adequacy' of the current curriculum.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is a cross-curriculum priority, meaning the topic must be taught across all disciplines including maths, science and history.

The existing themes have been criticised for putting too much emphasis on the experience of First Nations people in the period before European settlements.

In a summary of the proposed changes, the review states the curriculum failed to observe that 'the First Peoples of Australia experienced colonisation as invasion and dispossession of land, sea and sky.'

Students were not being taught their country is home to the worlds oldest continuing culture, and were not being made aware of the 'sophisticated' political, economic and social organisations systems of the First Nations Peoples.

The new curriculum would teach that the occupation and colonisation of Australia 'were experienced by First Nations Australians as an invasion that denied their occupation of, and connection to, country/place'.

This would replace the current syllabus which refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities having a special connection to country and place.

A distinction will also be made between Australia's two First Nations Peoples - the Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The biggest changes will be made to the history curriculum, with Year 4 students to learn about experiences on the First Fleet, the effects of colonisation on First Nations people and how this was perceived as an invasion.

Students in Year 9 will learn about contested terms like colonisation, settlement and invasion, as well as different historical interpretations about colonial societies.

Currently the NSW Aboriginal Studies syllabus, an HSC course, teaches the concept of invasion, while junior high school syllabus discusses how the concepts of invasion, occupation and settlement differ depending on perspectives.

Mark Rose, chair of the indigenous advisory committee at ACARA, said it was important to teach children about different viewpoints.

'We do it not because we're pandering to a minority and we're politically correct', Mr Rose told The Sydney Morning Herald.

'We think embedded in indigenous knowledge for all kids is an ability to anchor themselves in competing world views.'

He said children who are taught different perspectives are given a 'real advantage' entering a society with multiple world views.

'It's a reality for our kids. Some people will find it controversial, but if you peel back our society, there are four faces of this nation.

'We are part of Asia. We are one of the world's most multicultural nations. And we house the world's longest-living continuous culture.

'If those four faces are not represented, we are doing our kids a disservice.'

ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said the proposed changes would encourage students to consider new perspectives, in events like the arrival of the First Fleet.

'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' experiences and perspectives are part of Australia's past and present reality, but they do not invalidate other perspectives and experiences,' Mr Carvalho said in a statement.

'Perspectives' and 'interpretation' are core concepts in the study of history, used to identify the essential content students should learn.


Activist history lessons about Australia’s “invasion’’ by British settlers have been criticised by federal Education Minister Alan Tudge

“I don’t want students to be turned into activists,’’ Mr Tudge told Sky News.

“I want them to be taught the facts.’’

The new national curriculum, released for public comment this week, uses the term “invasion’’ to teach about European settlement.

History students will analyse “the impact of invasion, colonisation and dispossession of lands by Europeans on the First Nations Peoples of Australia such as frontier warfare, genocide, removal from land, relocation to ‘protectorates’, reserves and missions’’.

They will be taught how the “impacts of colonisation are viewed as invasion from the perspective of many First Nations Australians’’.

History students will also learn about “different points of view’’ on some commemorations and celebrations – singling out Australia Day and Christmas.

“Some First Nations Australians regard ‘Australia Day’ as ‘Invasion Day’ and many non-Christians celebrate Christmas for reasons not about practising their faith,’’ the curriculum material states.

Mr Tudge said he would seek “some changes’’ in the slimmed-down curriculum, which will delay teaching children to tell the time or learn their times tables.

He said students should learn about Australia’s settlement from the point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who are described in the new curriculum as “First Nations Australians’’.

“Certainly some people from an indigenous perspective saw things very differently to what the settlers saw it from and that should be taught as well,’’ he said.

But Mr Tudge said he was “certainly concerned’’ that indigenous history was not being balanced with Western culture in the new curriculum.

“I think we should honour our Indigenous history and teach that well,’’ he said.

“Equally, that should not come at the expense of dishonouring our Western heritage, which 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 (curriculum) that’s been put out.’’

Mr Tudge said he was “perplexed’’ that the new curriculum, to start next year, will delay teaching children to tell the time until Year 2 and postpone rote learning of multiplication in maths.

“I see that the teaching of the times table is proposed to be delayed to Grade 4 rather than Grade 3, which perplexes me,’’ he told Australia Today.

But Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) chief executive David de Carvalho said students need an extra year to understand how multiplication works before “reciting the times table parrot-like’’.

“We want students to not only know their times tables and formulas but also to understand multiplication facts and be able to use and apply them to solve problems in the real world, not just reciting the times tables parrot-like without necessarily understanding,’’ he said.

Centre for Independent Studies research fellow in education policy, Glenn Fahey, said it was “crystal clear’’ that rote learning is important for multiplication and spelling.

“Some educators have got a resistance to these techniques because they feel it can be boring for students,’’ he said.

“But this material is necessary as a foundation for some of the interesting inquiry-based topics.’’

The slimmed-down curriculum says children should know and write the alphabet by the end of prep or kindy – the year before Grade 1 – and gives more details about teaching children to read through phonics.

Mr Tudge called for an end to “education fads’’ in the classroom, singling out the “whole language’’ of teaching kids to read by remembering words, rather than sounding them out through phonics.

“Finally, this is coming back to have some common sense again in terms of … kids learning to read by decoding the alphabet,’’ he said.

“We’ve had this child-centred learning movement occur, which has no evidence base, rather than explicit teaching – the teacher actually teaching the kids what to do.’’

Mr Tudge said some teachers had never been taught how to teach phonics, “which is just an indictment of the teacher education faculties, frankly’’.




1 comment:

Paul said...

“All we ask in return is to judge us by our own actions, standards and principles and not to judge us by the actions of a few.”

We could all say this of the noisy many (but really) few who have been given multiple media and other digital platforms to redefine us all within the narrow agendas of their inane and insane political/social fantasy worlds.