Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dumbing Oz's Children

Not every age thinks that children are getting dumber by the day. This era may well be an exception.

Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, parents fought for and demanded that their children should have a better education than they themselves had, and many were very pleased with the strides their children made.

The 'Working Classes' as they were termed were especially keen for their children to have a better chance in life than they themselves had. The number of libraries we have today stem from that period. And libraries were full of  youngsters absorbing the sort of literature and knowledge that previously had been the preserve of only the wealthy. The parents studied too. 

Then along came the 'Political' solution and 'Universal Education'. All kiddywinks HAD to attend school and woe betide the parent who did not make sure their little flowers were there, in class, absorbing the best that the culture had produced.

What happened?

Sometime around the 1970's a 'revolution' occured. The Left love that word. To them it means 'progress'. To anyone else it means destruction.

I was pleased to see Stephanie Forrest in the bar last night, pointing out the demise of the English Literature 'education' in our 21C Oz schools.  You make your own mind up.

Great Writers Forge Minds
The only mention of William Shakespeare in the national curriculum for English appears as an example sentence in the glossary: "Because I am reading Shakespeare, my time is limited."
This is no accident. The ­national curriculum for English almost completely neglects the Western canon. Instead, students study advertising and "digital texts", and the curriculum is saturated with "social studies" content, which is irrelevant and inherently ideological.
It was not always so. In the 1950s and 60s, classic literature was at the core of school English education. David Copperfield, One Thousand and One Nights, The ­Odyssey, Black Beauty and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn appeared in readings for 12-year-old students.
The classics have stood the test of time and include some of the best examples of writing and story­telling in the English language. They should be a foundational element of school English.
Since the 1970s, however, curriculums in all states except NSW make no mention of classic ­literature.
The classics also have disappeared from school reading lists. The Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge listed 1700 books for Year 6 this year but only 20 can be classified as classics, including CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding and Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Most of the rest were contemporary fiction published in the past decade.
The national curriculum continues this trend. Although it does not include a reading list, it frequently alludes to certain types of readings - for example, "contemporary" or "everyday" texts, "media and advertising", "digital texts", and texts from "different historical contexts".
Rarely does it allude to Western classic literature. The only stories of European origin that it refers to are Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella. There is a reference to European "representations of dragons" in Year 3 and a handful of uncited quotations of poets such as Tennyson, Burns and Blake, but that is the extent of the treatment of the Western canon. Instead, there is a large amount of content relating to "ethics" and "social movements".

An optional "content elaboration" in Year 9 suggests "debating the reliability of the coverage in a range of news media of a contentious issue such as commercial logging of old-growth forests".
Another suggests "presenting arguments that advance opinions, justify positions, and make judgments in order to persuade others about issues such as the importance of maintaining balance in the biosphere". Another "content elaboration" in Year 5 suggests "investigating the qualities of ­contemporary protest songs, for example, those about indigenous peoples and those about the ­environment".
This overtly political ethics-­related content has no place in an English curriculum. It detracts from the foundational elements of English - reading, writing, spelling, and grammar - and deprives children of the opportunity to read classic literature at school.

I am astonished that Gramsci is not on the little dears' reading list. It is he and his legion of followers who are wholly responsible for the decline. Those lefties have been on the 'Long March through the Institutions' for so long now and so successfully, looting and destroying, that they must be footsore.

Personally I say they need a foot or two planted up their arses.



  1. Lana Voreskova has commented on this post elsewhere (somehow it failed to get through here) so I add it here;

    I somewhere about a protest in Australia by angry mothers who wanted Roald Dahl books removed from a shop. Probably the most popular children's writer in the world. He wrote most of his stuff in the 1940s so they were pretty tame; but he apparently describes one character as a "slut." In those days the word slut did not have the same meaning as it does now. It meant a slovenly or unkempt woman. But I suppose if you're going to teach ignorance to kids then you might as well start early.

    I have met some American educators who are very worried about the US education system. They were surprised to find that the European ones are not that far behind in the dumbing down process. I read an article on your site about the dearth of English Literature in Australian schools.

    The same thing is happening in Ireland. The school attended by my friend's son in Russia has books by Dickens and plays by Shakespeare on the curriculum even though their focus is on Russian literature.

    It is astonishing to me here in Ireland, an English speaking country, that the greatest literature in the English language is now considered less important than nonsensical and badly written drivel about social awareness. Irish kids used to have to study at least one Shakespeare play along with a host of books from both English and Irish writers and poets. Now they are subjected to lectures by clowns like Roddy Doyle.

    I visited Trinity College Dublin last month. It is one of the oldest colleges in Europe and full of beautiful old buildings. I was too early for my appointment so I strolled through the cobbled courtyards and into the old library building to look at the lines of portraits of famous past students. They include -

    Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Edmund Burke, Oliver Goldsmith, Robert Emmet, William Butler Yeats, Michael Longley, Oliver St. John Gogarty, William Rowan Hamilton, William Henry Harvey, Henry Flavelle Forbes

    And hundreds more that would be known around the world. Oh and not forgetting - Sir Valentine Fleming – Chief justice of the supreme court of Tasmania in the 1840s

    There was a poster on the entrance to the Arts faculty advertising a talk on “social inclusion” by Billy Bragg. Enough said.

    1. Across the Anglosphere the rot creeps, destroying or at least ignoring the great literature that has contributed to the success of western, Anglophile nations. Thank you Lana for this addition, taken from your comments on


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