Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Black Armband 1 - History by Government Decree

The phrase "black armband view of history" was coined by bourgeois historian Prof. Geoffrey Blainey in 1993.

He used the phrase to attack progressive historians who had had the temerity to argue that the 1778 "settlement" of Australia by the British was more accurately an "invasion", and that frontier wars had characterised the relations between settler forces and the indigenous peoples, rather than a process of "peaceful colonisation".

Yesterday, the History Teachers Association of Australia claimed that the Howard Government had shut them out of the development of a national Australian history curriculum for high schools.

They alleged that the curriculum was being "drafted in backrooms" away from public scrutiny and without the involvement of History teachers.

Howard is a right-wing Anglophile (British culturally and US imperialist politically) zealotwho heads a ministerial clique that is unapologetic about its attacks on indigenous land rights and trade union and workers' rights.

His Education Minister has alleged that "Maoists" are running the curriculum in schools.

If only!!!!

The Howardites want public education destroyed, except for a residual service aimed at the poor and dysfunctional, and all education brought under the ideological control of the most reactionary and most powerful sections of the capitalist class and the imperialists.

Last year, Howard convened a so-called "Australian history summit" to serve notice on schools that they had to stop children and emerging young adults from thinking critically about social issues.

The Howardites then commissioned Monash University's Professor Tony Taylor to develop a Years 3-10 Australian history curriculum that would confine history in schools to a pro-settler, pro-imperialist linear narrative.

But Taylor failed in his task. Howard thought that the Taylor draft raised too many questions and still allowed for the teaching of some history from an indigenous perspective.

In June, Howard tried to gather around his drawing board a four-person writing team. It included arch-conservative political commentator Gerard Henderson, author of a "history" of Howard's Liberal Party, and the original anti-indigenene Geoffrey Baliney! Two less conservative persons were added: Nicholas Brown, from the Australian National University, and Jennifer Lawless from the NSW Board of Studies. Lawless, however, was told that she could not participate by the NSW Minister for Education because the four person group was "biased". She was then replaced by former Presbyterian Ladies College principal Elizabeth Ward.

It is this group that the History Teachers Association accuses of hiding away in a backroom and concocting a "history" fit to be taught in our schools.

It is this group that is charged with carrying out the Howardites' decree that the teaching of Australian history not convey a "black armband view" of our past.

In support of the History Teachers Association and of honest and progressive history teachers, I'll devote some posts to Black Armband discussion.

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