Australian Curriculum 1

Some of the Australian Curriculum Board Members

These men know that education is not ethically neutral. They understand the raging battle for the hearts and minds of future generations of Tasmanians and Australians. All of them realise that he who controls the schools rules the world.

What will it take for Christian parents and leaders to realise that school curricula are not ethically or religiously neutral? Not all curricula are created equal. But, God's Word is clear: all of life is to be made subject to Jesus and every thought is to be taken captive to the obedience of the reigning Messiah. Can someone please explain to me which educational subject is not a thought? What school subject should we attempt to do to the glory of a false god or idol?  

For many years a lot of Christian parents, leaders, elders and pastors have argued that Tasmanian taxpayer funded "government" schools are ok. They are just the place to send one's children. Why? 

Pillars of educational idolatry

  1. They are a gold mine for evangelism;
  2. Schools create a community that parents can influence with the gospel;
  3. And of course...schools are ethically/religiously neutral. You know; ethics has no bearing on maths etc.

As Christians our first premise ought to be to: "glorify God, seek the Scriptures to find out what He has to say about the matter and then faithfully obey Him." This is the best starting point. God's has spoken to us. His revealed Word ought to always be a fundamental aspect to our situational analysis. What God says is important, relevent and crucial for us to know and obey. God says a lot about the training of children. He lays this responsibility at the feet of the parents (primarily) and the church (secondarily). The direct texts and flow of Biblical thought is abundant on this subject; I have argued that education is intrinsically ethical (or religious) and that all Christians are charged by God to faithfully provide their children with a Christian education (see here). This means a truly Christ honouring, gospel education. Not baptised secular humanism. 

Educational neutrality

This article's objective is to dispel the ethical (religious) neutrality myth that so many Christians shroud the Tasmanian State Government education system in. I will do this from the very mouths of the designers of our national curriculum. The men and women who designed this curriculum understand the battle lines. While we have focussed on an ever narrowing dualistic gospel the enemy torpedoes our mothership. Our worldview is down to its nickers while secular humanism is girding itself up for the final onslaught. But have faith. Christ is King. He has won and His church will win in history. The war is ours but every battle must be fought. Strategy is important. Faithful obedience crucial.

Let me get right to the point. Education can never be done in an ethical (religious) vacuum. Knowledge assumes certain things (presuppositions) such as objectivity, truth, logic, reason etc. Knowledge acquisition only thus makes sense on the Christian worldview. Why? Without starting with God you have no philosophical premise for objectivity, truth, logic, reason (etc). Whoa, that's heavy. Not really. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" and "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited in Christ." Without God you can't know anything. All knowledge, all truth belongs to God. In other words you cannot know anything without presupposing the God of Scripture. Enemies of Christianity understand this. They are the worldview thieves who have used Christianity to try and destroy Christianity. This is why they have fought long and hard for the religious neutrality of education and the removal of religion from schools. The secular humanists have successfully defined the terms of engagement. Education is the religiously neutral saviour of society and the world. It's the old Socratic fallacy of "if they know the good, they will do the good;" or something like that. This totally ignores the reality of knowledge: if we are the bi-products of random processes over time there can be no universal laws of logic and reason, nor can there be any objectivity or truth. Consistent secular humanism destroys knowledge. State government controlled schools destroy souls. But the battle lines have shifted. Christians have swallowed the lie of neutrality in education. Secular humanists are telling us that ethics is somehow separate from and independent of morality. Another attempt to remove religion from public life. What baloney. Totally absurd. But it's trendy and hip. Religion and life don't mix you know. 

But wait, the designers of the Australian National Curriculum believe that ethics is relevant to, permeates all and is fundamental to every subject. How's that for a joke. Hang on, it's true. Ethics is fundamental to every subject! Those who hate the true gospel know how to play the game. They understand that to win they must imitate the covenantal structure of Scripture. Winning the intergenerational battle involves controlling training children through an education curriculum. Bam. But we continue to huddle in our small town Christian evangelism is everything ghettos. A group hug and social media smiley satisfies our emotions. We love peace without obedience and sacrifice. This type of peace brings defeat and judgement. If we want to start winning this gospel battle for the hearts and minds of future Tasmanians we would do well to reform our views of education to the Word.

All is not lost. Christ is ruling the nations. This is a winnable battle. We can reclaim education under the crown rights of King Jesus.

How do we win

Victory was secured at Calvary; and we are to repent and fear God. We must approach wisdom knowledge and learning faithfully. Praise God that education is one area that Christian parents still have control over in this nation. It is something that can be assessed and changed, now. Ask yourself: 

  1. Who is educating my children?
  2. What are they educating them in?
  3. Does my children's education honour Christ in every subject?
  4. Is my children's education gospel centred?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions you need to reassess what you are training your children in. There are many Christian schools in this State and you can home educate too. You have choices at the moment. Prayerfully consider them. Don't let secondary issues cloud your judgment. As a parent discipling, training and educating your children in faithfulness to Christ in every subject is a gospel demand. Faithfulness in this area takes priority over evangelism, money, work, and many other things. One final thing to understand. There is no silver bullet to our current socio-political problems. Words do come easy. Repentance comes from the Lord and its societal impact may take generations. We play the long game. God blesses faithful obedience, often over the long haul.

Now, you may be thinking that I have asserted a number of things regarding the national curriculum. Perhaps you want evidence that the designs of that thing believe in ethical instruction permeating every subject. Ok, here it is. Straight from the horses mouths, hyperlink and all. It is utter nonsense to assert that education can be ethically or religiously neutral. Take a look at the ethical instruction you will be baptising your children in if you send them to Tasmanian State Schools. 

Straight from the Australian Curriculum gurus

"Ethical issues arise across all areas of the curriculum, with each learning area containing a range of content that demands consideration from an ethical perspective. This includes analysing and evaluating the ethics of the actions and motivations of individuals and groups, understanding the ethical dimensions of research and information, debating ethical dilemmas and applying ethics in a range of situations.

Students learn to develop ethical understanding as they explore ethical issues and interactions with others, discuss ideas, and learn to be accountable as members of a democratic community.

Students need regular opportunities to identify and make sense of the ethical dimensions in their learning. As ethics is largely concerned with what we ought to do and how we ought to live, students need to understand how people can inquire collaboratively and come to ethical decisions. They need the skills to explore areas of contention, select and justify an ethical position, and engage with and understand the experiences and positions of others. These skills promote students’ confidence as decision-makers and foster their ability to act with regard for others. Skills are enhanced when students have opportunities to put them into practice in their learning; for example, understanding the importance of applying appropriate ethical practices such as following the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies published in 2011 by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).Students also need to explore values, rights and responsibilities to assist them in justifying their ethical position and in engaging with the position of others.

The processes of reflecting on and interrogating core ethical issues and concepts underlie all areas of the curriculum. These include justice, right and wrong, freedom, truth, identity, empathy, goodness and abuse.

The learning area or subject with the highest proportion of content descriptions tagged with Ethical Understanding is placed first in the list.

F-6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)

In the F–6/7 Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences, students develop ethical understanding as they learn how to build discipline-specific knowledge about history, geography, civics and citizenship, and economics and business, as they pose questions, research, analyse, evaluate and communicate information, concepts and ideas.

Students develop ethical understanding of behaviour as they critically explore the character traits, actions and motivations of people in the past that may be the result of different standards and expectations and changing societal attitudes and values. Students recognise that examining the nature of evidence deepens their understanding of ethical issues and investigate the ways that diverse values and principles have influenced human affairs. When undertaking fieldwork, students learn about ethical procedures for investigating and working with people and places, including working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. When learning about the environment, students consider their responsibilities to protect other forms of life that share the environment. They evaluate their findings against the criteria of environmental protection, economic prosperity and social advancement. These criteria raise ethical questions about human rights and citizenship; for example, who bears the costs and who gains the benefits, and about group and personal responsibilities.

Students develop informed, ethical values and attitudes and become aware of their own roles, rights and responsibilities as participants in their community, their environment and the economy, and the implications of their decisions and actions for individuals, society and the environment. They discuss and apply ethical concepts such as equality, respect and fairness, which underpin Australia’s democracy, exploring values in particular contexts, such as the fairness of voting systems or particular government policies. They examine shared beliefs and values which support Australian democratic society, past and present, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Students develop the skills to recognise different perspectives, and have opportunities to explore ambiguities and ethical considerations related to political, legal and social issues.

7-10 History

In the Australian Curriculum: History, students develop ethical understanding as they critically explore the character traits, actions and motivations of people in the past that may be the result of different standards and expectations and changing societal attitudes. Students recognise that examining the nature of evidence deepens their understanding of ethical issues and investigate the ways that diverse values and principles have influenced human affairs.

7-10 Geography

In the Australian Curriculum: Geography, students develop ethical understanding as they investigate current geographical issues and evaluate their findings against the criteria of environmental protection, economic prosperity and social advancement. These criteria raise ethical questions about human rights and citizenship; for example, who bears the costs and who gains the benefits, and about group and personal responsibilities. By exploring such questions, students develop informed values and attitudes and become aware of their own roles and responsibilities as citizens.

When undertaking fieldwork, students learn about ethical procedures for investigating and working with people and places, including working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. When thinking about the environment, students consider their responsibilities to protect other forms of life that share the environment.

7-10 Civics and Citizenship

In the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship, students discuss and apply ethical concepts such as equality, respect and fairness, which underpin Australia’s democracy. They explore and analyse democratic values in particular contexts; for example, evaluating the fairness of voting systems or particular government policies. Students explore different beliefs about civics and citizenship issues and the consequences of particular decisions. They examine shared beliefs and values which support Australian democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Students develop the skills to recognise different perspectives and have opportunities to explore ambiguities and ethical considerations related to political, legal and social issues.

7-10 Economics and Business

In the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business, students develop informed, ethical values and attitudes and become aware of their own roles, rights and responsibilities as participants in the economy. Students also develop an understanding of the ethical considerations that may be involved in making economics and business decisions and their implications for individuals, society and the environment.

Technologies

In the Australian Curriculum: Technologies, students develop the capacity to understand and apply ethical and socially responsible principles when collaborating with others and creating, sharing and using technologies – materials, data, processes, tools and equipment. Using an ethical lens, they investigate past, current and future local, national, regional and global technological priorities. When engaged in systems thinking, students evaluate their findings against the criteria of legality, environmental sustainability, economic viability, health, social and emotional responsibility and social awareness. They explore complex issues associated with technologies and consider possibilities. They are encouraged to develop informed values and attitudes.

Students learn about safe and ethical procedures for investigating and working with people, animals, data and materials. They consider the rights of others and their responsibilities in using sustainable practices that protect the planet and its life forms. They learn to appreciate and value the part they play in the social and natural systems in which they operate.

Students consider their own roles and responsibilities as discerning citizens, and learn to detect bias and inaccuracies. Understanding the protection of data, intellectual property and individual privacy in the school environment helps students to be ethical digital citizens.

Health and Physical Education

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education focuses on the importance of treating others with respect, integrity, fairness and compassion, and valuing diversity and equality for all.

Students examine ethical principles and codes of practice appropriate to different contexts, such as at school, at home, in the community, in relationships, on the sporting field, in the natural environment and when using digital technologies such as social media. As students explore concepts and consequences of fair play, equitable participation, empathy and respect in relationships, they develop skills to make ethical decisions and understand the consequences of their actions. They also develop the capacity to apply these skills in everyday situations and movement-based contexts.

The Arts

In the Australian Curriculum: The Arts, students develop and apply ethical understanding when they encounter or create artworks that require ethical consideration, such as work that is controversial, involves a moral dilemma or presents a biased point of view. They explore how ethical principles affect the behaviour and judgement of artists involved in issues and events. Students apply the skills of reasoning, empathy and imagination, and consider and make judgements about actions and motives. They speculate on how life experiences affect and influence people’s decision-making and whether various positions held are reasonable.

Students develop their understanding of values and ethical principles when interpreting and evaluating artworks and their meaning. They consider the intellectual, moral and property rights of others. In particular, students learn about ethical and cultural protocols when engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their histories, cultures and artistic practices.

Languages

When learning another language through the Australian Curriculum: Languages, students are taught explicitly to acknowledge and value difference in their interactions with others and to develop respect for diverse ways of perceiving and acting in the world. Students have opportunities to monitor and adjust their own ethical points of view. In learning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, students should consider appropriate ethical behaviour for engaging with the owners and custodians of the languages. Similar consideration is needed when interpreting and translating or when collecting and analysing primary research data.

Science

In the Australian Curriculum: Science, students develop the capacity to form and make ethical judgements in relation to experimental science, codes of practice, and the use of scientific information and science applications. They explore what integrity means in science, and explore and apply ethical guidelines in their investigations. They consider the implications of their investigations on others, the environment and living organisms.

They use scientific information to evaluate claims and to inform ethical decisions about a range of social, environmental and personal issues, for example, land use or the treatment of animals.

English

In the Australian Curriculum: English, students develop ethical understanding as they study the social, moral and ethical positions and dilemmas presented in a range of texts. They explore how ethical principles affect the behaviour and judgement of imagined characters in texts and the real-life experiences of those involved in similar issues and events. Students apply the skills of reasoning, empathy and imagination to consider and make judgements about actions and motives, and speculate on how life experiences affect and influence people’s decision-making and whether various positions held are reasonable.

Students studying the Australian Curriculum: English gradually understand how language use has inclusive and exclusive effects, as seen through the distinction between subjective language and bias, versus factual and objective language. They learn how language can be used to influence judgements about behaviour, speculate about consequences and influence opinions, and that language can carry embedded negative and positive connotations that can be used in ways that help or hurt others. Students use their growing understanding to create and express their own considered points of view on issues of empowerment and disempowerment in a range of imaginative and persuasive texts.

Mathematics

There are opportunities in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics to explore, develop and apply ethical understanding in a range of contexts; for example, through analysing data and statistics; seeking intentional and accidental distortions; finding inappropriate comparisons and misleading scales when exploring the importance of fair comparison; and interrogating financial claims and sources.

Work Studies

In the Australian Curriculum: Work Studies, Years 9–10, students learn how ethical understanding focuses on the importance of treating others with honesty, integrity, consideration, compassion and respect. Students are given opportunities to explore moral principles and codes of practice appropriate to different contexts such as in building relationships at school, in the workplace and in the broader community, and to develop the commitment and capacity to be consistently guided by these principles."

** Photo courtesy of: http://www.acara.edu.au/news_media/acara_news/acara_news_2015_06.html.

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