Alan Tudge in fiery Triple J interview over draft national curriculum
Australia’s education minister wants students to learn about Australia’s “great successes” and leave school with a “patriotic view” of the country’s history, as contention over the draft national curriculum heats sup.
In a fiery interview with Triple J’s Hack on Tuesday, Alan Tudge, who has spent months campaigning against elements of the proposed new curriculum, said he doesn’t want young Australians to leave school with a “hatred” of their country because otherwise they are “not going to protect it, as a million Australians have through their military service”.
“My concern is that the history curriculum, particularly years 7 to 10, paints an overly negative view of Australia,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot to be proud of, and we should be teaching the great things as much as we should our weaknesses, flaws and historical wrongs.
“We want to make sure people come out (of school) with a love of our country, rather than a hate for it.”
But host Avani Dias questioned whether greater priority should be given to Indigenous voices.
Mr Tudge said said he wanted there to be a better balance in the curriculum to allow for students to understand by Australia is “such a wealthy, liberal, free egalitarian society”.
“(Australia) is not this horrible, terrible, racist, sexist country … We’re one of the greatest egalitarian free countries in the world,” he said.
Dias interrupted, countering that “a lot of people, minister, would probably disagree with some of those things”.
“First Nations people would disagree that perhaps the balance has been in the opposite direction until now,” she said.
“What would you say to Indigenous Australians with concerns (about the curriculum).”
Mr Tudge asked her for examples as to whom she was referring to.
“I would (also) ask you, name me a single country in the world…. which is as free and as egalitarian as Australia is today,” he said.
Dias replied: “Minister that is not the concern. The concern from Indigenous Australians is that the history curriculum should (be) accurate”.
Mr Tudge acknowledged there had been some “dreadful incidences in our history” but that the curriculum needed to skew away from the negative, and be more “positive and patriotic”.
Mr Tudge told Dias one of his major concerns was the way Anzac Day was presented in the draft curriculum.
He said he believed it should be treated as “the most sacred of all days”, rather than the curriculum including contested perspectives.
In the proposed new curriculum, a portion of the Year 9 First World War component includes different historical interpretations and contested debates about the nature and significance of the Anzac legend and the war.
“Instead of Anzac Day being presented as the most sacred of all days in Australia, where we stop, we reflect, we commemorate the hundred thousand people who have died for our freedoms … it’s presented as a contested idea,” he said.
“That’s just one example (of what I don’t like).”
Mr Tudge said he wanted the curriculum to be focused on accuracy, citing that in the Years 7 to 10 history components, Captain James Cook was not mentioned, despite him being “a very significant person in the world … and Australia”.
In the draft curriculum, students will learn about Captain Cook in year 4.
Final revisions on the national draft curriculum are due to be provided to Mr Tudge and state and territory education ministers for approval by the end of the year.