History Lessons - Reality or Propaganda

Posted by Mike Kaaks

06 January 2020

In an earlier post I wrote about the Australian Flag, Anthem, and Constitution and how we see our first peoples. I made the point that these things - flag, anthem, and constitution  are at odds with the history of our land. As I’ve reflected further on that I have come to see the influence that school curricula have on our culture, especially in the subject of history, and from there how we see these issues

I always though the topic of curriculum was somewhat benign and appropriately placed in the hands of educators. I took educators to have the wellbeing of our future generations foremost in the hearts and minds. It turns out that I was wrong, for history at least. For that subject the curriculum is the tool of propagandists.

I started primary school in 1955. All through my education I was taught that the history of Australia started in 1788. In 1988 we celebrated being 200 years old. My education gave me no sense that that the arc of Australian human history spanned more than 60,000 years, no sense that a rich culture existed when the union jack’s first claim to this land was made.

We need to teach the qualities that resulted in our first peoples sustained existence in this most challenging of lands. Such recognition will enable the meaningful debate that will hopefully bring about change to constitution, flag, and anthem.

Like all things in life, its not all doom and gloom. Education is happening. When I was in Perth recently I watched a scrolling public screen that featured the indigenous word of the week. That day it was a word that described one of the six seasons that guide indigenous life. I also came to understand that each of these seasons started and ended with visible signs on the land, not with arbitrary dates in the calendar. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? And look how much i learned from that simple initiative.

If only these things were part of what i was taught as a child. We would be living in a better, more unified Australia today.

Time to Make a Difference