Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Curriculum Wars

By Simon Grose

The troubled saga of the national school curriculum has more turmoil ahead, and perhaps an unhappy ending.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

You’d have to be wondering if the national school curriculum is worth all the strife.

The main justification for the urge to merge state and territory curricula into a national menu for creating optimal 21st century Australians was the changeover trauma experienced by an estimated 80,000 school students who move interstate each year.

First to take a serious shot at a national solution was Julie Bishop when she was Minister for Education under John Howard. She got no support from Labor politicians, neither federally nor in states and territories where they mostly held power. They decried the prospect of a Canberra takeover and an ideological agenda.

Then Labor gained power federally and Education Ministers Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett embarked on a dollar-and-stick Canberra takeover to impose a national curriculum that is ideologically tinged if not tie-dyed.

In 2011 the ACT was the first to adopt the new Years 1–10 curricula for English, Mathematics, Science and History. Five other jurisdictions followed in 2012, Victoria in 2013, and this year NSW is making it fully national for those core subjects.

At the same time, the Coalition is back in charge in Canberra and Education Minister Christopher Pyne has mounted a review that will undoubtedly recommend changes to the curriculum and the methods of teaching it.

He and his Labor...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.