It’s more a stampede than a pendulum swing…

24 Jul

The mad embrace of right-wing politics and attitudes continues, driven no doubt by fear and lack of knowledge of twentieth century history. I documented one aspect of it last week in How far right can you go…. Here, in rank order of seriousness, are three further examples.

1. The Authoritarian Streak in the Conservative Movement by John Dean.

2. Civil Rights Hiring Shifted in Bush Era from The Boston Globe.

3. Beyond the history wars by Michelle Grattan. The Howard government is mounting a major offensive to capture the teaching of history so that it reflects their vision of our past, rather than any disinterested enquiry.

It mightn’t match his industrial relations obsession, but Howard has been preoccupied with history teaching, which he sees as part of the “history wars”, for a long time. (Remember, Janette Howard is a former history teacher.)

Howard’s most recent Australia Day speech urged “root and branch renewal”. For many years, he said, fewer than a quarter of senior secondary students had taken a history subject, and only “a fraction” of those took Australian history.

And “too often, it is taught without any sense of structured narrative, replaced by a fragmented stew of themes and issues”. As well, history had “succumbed to a postmodern culture of relativism where any objective record of achievement is questioned or repudiated”.

The rumor that Japanese textbooks are being considered as models of best practice has of course been denied. 😉

Seriously, this right-wing triumphalism is doing all of us a great disservice. As a matter of urgency, make sure you read Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The History Wars. The culture warriors are relentless. This is not a trivial matter.

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One response to “It’s more a stampede than a pendulum swing…

  1. Ninglun

    July 26, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Just thought: when John Howard and I were in senior high school, none of us in NSW studied Australian History, though we did in junior years; but then students today doing History in NSW study mandatory units on Australia in their first four years of High School too. Point is, MORE students are studying Australian History at senior level than did in JH’s youth.

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