Saturday salon 18/10


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. National curriculum review

The Conversation asked several experts to comment on the Review of the Australian Curriculum conducted by Dr Kevin Donnelly and Professor Ken Wiltshire. As far as I can make out, the Government will make a final response by early next year and hopes that changes can be implemented by the states in 2016.

This is insane.

The Review seems to call for a rewriting of the entire curriculum, a task which would take years.

Moreover, the Review calls for a restructuring of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the body which would do the rewriting, which will take time. It seems unlikely that the states will have the capacity to undertake the necessary curriculum development themselves.

The Review itself seems to be based on opinion rather than research.

2. Calls to sack curriculum reviewer

One such opinion is that of Professor Barry Spurr of Sydney University, who was used as a consultant to review the teaching of English. Spurr has been suspended while the university investigates calls for his sacking. As reported on PM calls for his sacking:

follow the publication of a series of emails in which Professor Barry Spurr described Aboriginal people as “human rubbish tips” and reminisced about the 1950s, when there weren’t so many “bogans”, “fatsoes”, “Mussies” and “Chinky-poos” around.

In his review, Professor Spurr advised the Government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature and place greater emphasis on western Judeo-Christian culture.

On reading the original New Matilda report it’s hard to accept that his racist, sexist ranting is merely whimsical word games. See also here and here.

3. Classics in the English curriculum

While we are at it, Stewart Riddle and Eileen Honan took a look at the curriculum review and English literature. Remember that the Review

advised the Government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature and place greater emphasis on western Judeo-Christian culture.

They found that the national curriculum leaves the selection of texts entirely up to the schools. In fact as a result students already get a steady diet of the classics. But they probably don’t read the Bible or as six year-olds commit mediaeval verse to memory as suggested by the reviewers.

4. Five new growth centres for science and innovation

The Federal Government’s adding an extra $400 million to the science and technology budget. Five new “growth centres” are at the heart of the plan – mining, oil and gas, medical, food and advanced manufacturing.

The Government says that should boost growth and create jobs by encouraging co-operation between those sectors and the scientific community.

Sounds wonderful if you stop right there. But then this:

But the new centres will replace some existing co-operative research centres and it’s not clear what it will mean for the nation’s top research body, the CSIRO.

Opposition spokesman Kim Carr is allowed a very general criticism. I heard him later on RN’s Drive. Apparently Labor had instituted 12 such centres, which were slashed by the LNP. Also the cutbacks to research, science and innovation total a whopping $9 billion.

The headline says $400 million, but the article specifies only $188 million of government funds.

Hockey’s plan to shrink Australia continues apace!

4 thoughts on “Saturday salon 18/10”

  1. Gough Whitlam died this morning.
    A great loss. His Government’s policies changed my life irremediably for the better.
    May he rest in peace.

  2. Jumpy @1&2: Wow!!! Of course, being a private firm, they have absolutely no influence whatsoever on government policy, do they?

    It is very tempting to think they may have covert aspects to their shareholder wealth creating activities. Gee, it would be very tempting indeed to assist people traffickers. As well as to increase the range of custodial sentences.

    So don’t go stealing any loaves of bread or saying rude things about the monarch or you’ll get the prison bed right next to the toilet bowl.

    Wonder if they are in the business of legal advice to accused criminals and to illegal immigrants too?


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