PC is out, ABCs back in classes
Schools to return to core values in radical curriculum reform
EVERY school subject from kindergarten to Year 12 will be stripped of unnecessary “clutter” in a bid to return education to the core values of English, maths and sciences.
In the first total review of education in 30 years, the state government also wants to remove social and politically correct agendas from the classroom because they have made the curriculum “hard to decipher”. Officials will also cut the number of exams.
THE school curriculum will be stripped back to core values of English, maths and the sciences in a once-in-a-generation review to “declutter” the entire education system.
Every subject from kindergarten to Year 12 will go under the microscope to remove what the state government considers irrelevant content that has crept in over the past 30 years.
One potential effect of the overhaul, to be announced today by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes, would be to eliminate “political correctness” from education.
The review will also focus more on achievements by Australian authors and inventors while raising the importance of vocational training for those who don’t want to go to university.
The number numb of f exams and tests will also be cut.
Authorities fear the rudiments of literacy and numeracy have suffered because teachers must work in an increasingly complex framework dictated by various social and political agendas.
For example, regardless of the subject, every teacher must incorporate content about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, sustainability, and Australia’s engagement with Asia. This might result in a maths teacher teaching probability by using Asian games of chance to illustrate their point. Mr Stokes said while such frameworks are “nice to have, we need to focus on things we must do”. He believes the curriculum has become “hard to decipher, cluttered, complex and not transparent”.
In the past 15 years Australia’s world ranking has slipped from fourth to 16th in reading, from seventh to 25th in mathematics, and from fourth to 14th in science.
“The basics of literacy and numeracy need to be acquired earlier and that needs to be reflected in the curriculum, so by the age of eight kids have the basics down pat,” Mr Stokes said.
The review, to be conducted by the CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research Geoff Masters, will be the first since 1989, the year the internet was launched. It is expected to take more than 18 months.
While it will not change the content of individual subjects, it will establish what lessons have been added into each subject over the past three decades that are not
essential. “We want to declut
ter the curriculum,” Ms Bere
jiklian said. “I want to see a
focus on the basics like liter
acy and numeracy.”
Primary teachers say the curriculum is so crowded it has become impossible to cover everything and still teach core subjects in any depth.
“It is impossible for primary teachers to get through the entire curriculum each year,” Primary Principals’ Association president Phil Seymour said. “You’d have to skate across the top of the core subjects — English, maths and science.”
According to Mr Seymour, “additional activities society has pushed on us” like pet care and road safety aren’t explicitly mentioned in the curriculum, but it is assumed teachers will find time to squeeze them in.
President of the Secondary Principals Council Chris Presland said the situation was no better in high schools.
“Schools are now expected to teach road safety, alcohol and drug safety, teaching kids how to behave online, health and fitness, water safety, CPR, first aid — the list goes on,” Mr Presland said.
This was as well as teaching new skills such as typing, which comes on top of handwriting, and “soft skills” like creativity, team-building and collaboration.
“Can you tell me something that’s been taken out of the syllabus in the past 30 years? The answer is no,” Mr Presland said.
“It is possible to teach all of those things but it’s not easy, especially as the curriculum doesn’t explain how to teach them, it’s just assumed teachers will work it out.”
Visiting her old school, North Ryde Public, Ms Berejiklian said the new curriculum would show students “the sky’s the limit” by putting a stronger emphasis on Australian authors and inventors and also focus on vocations at high schools.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at her old p primary imary sch school, North Ryde Public, with Kirin Naidoo Bennett, Charlotte Chow, Tatsufumi Motohiro and Sarah Cumming.