Monday, 22 April 2013

I spent part of yesterday

giving the Whirlwind a history lesson. If "my Dad" cannot tell her something I am usually the next in line. He was working so, despite the rain, she bounded in and asked for advice about her school project.
They are supposedly studying history, "Australian history - again". I can only sympathise. I missed out on studying any other sort of history until I reached my "Leaving" year - the approximate equivalent of the old UK "O" level. 
It should not have happened that way but when I was in mid-primary school we moved again. My father became my teacher. He had four year levels in the same classroom - and supervised another year who were doing the first year of secondary school by correspondence. 
To simplify teaching the Education Department had decreed that all children in such schools would be given the same history and geography lessons. (There was no "social studies" then.) Australian history had to come first. We "did" the first settlers in both New South Wales and our own state, the explorers and the invention of the "stump-jump" plough and "bushrangers". We did not do anything to do with the government or how it worked. I repeated all this at least four times until I was tired of it. What is worse is that I now know that what I was given was a rose-coloured glasses view that was far from accurate - although my father did his best to down play the romantic aspects and tell us of the hardships and dangers people faced. 
Every year we were also told the story of "Simpson and his donkey" for the ANZAC Day Gallipoli lesson. Simpson was always treated as an Australian hero, a very brave man and someone of whom we could be very proud  It was a highly romantic view of history - and quite inaccurate. (Simpson was actually a deserter from the British merchant navy who enlisted in the Australian army in order to get a ticket home.)
The Whirlwind knows the story. It is still taught in a similar way but her father has given her a rather more accurate version.  It has, as he hoped, made her question other things she is being taught.
I gave her some ideas about where to look for other information about this episode. When she had found what she thought she needed we talked it through. 
At school she is being taught what is best described as the "politically correct" view on this particular topic. It is what the set curriculum demands. I know her teacher is not happy with it. It is no doubt why they were set the exercise the Whirlwind was doing.
I explained this to the Whirlwind. 
"Well why does she have to tell us that stuff if it isn't true?" she asked me. 
Why indeed?

1 comment:

Miriam said...

It's probably the same everywhere. I remember being taught what good people the Crusaders were. In some countries children are taught to hate others.