What Is Education for? Situating History, Cultural Understandings and Studies of Society and Environment against Neo-Conservative Critiques of Curriculum Reform

By Henderson, Deborah | Australian Journal of Education, November 2005 | Go to article overview

What Is Education for? Situating History, Cultural Understandings and Studies of Society and Environment against Neo-Conservative Critiques of Curriculum Reform


Henderson, Deborah, Australian Journal of Education


This article explores some of the debates about the nature and purpose of education in the social sciences in the Australian curricula. It examines recent attempts in studies of society and environment and history curricula to prepare students for global citizenship and responds to neo-conservative critiques that our 'politically correct' curricula does not impart the 'truth' about our 'European' heritage. This article argues that while the neo-conservative discourse makes claim to traditional views of knowledge and rationality, its discursive field does not address the broader questions of what sort of education our students require for the twenty-first century.

Introduction

Few would doubt that the next generation of Australians will inhabit ethnically diverse, complex, globally-linked communities. As General Peter Cosgrove noted recently, the past one hundred years have seen:

the gradual transformation of Australia from an overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic, homogeneous population ... to one of the world's most multicultural societies. (Cosgrove, 2003, p. 23)

The changing nature of Australian society and its connectedness to the global community will provide many opportunities for young Australians. However, recent events such September 11, the war in Iraq, the Bali bombing, the 2004 Boxing Day tsunamis and attacks in Madrid and London remind us that Australians must be prepared for an increasingly uncertain world. Education is one of the most effective means of preparing students for these local, regional and global challenges. Yet as Rizvi (2004, p. 157) reminds us, there is a lack of consensus on the implications of globalisation for education policy. In broad terms, globalisation describes the complex ways in which the lives of the world's people have become increasingly linked and new ways in which local and national communities relate to each other (Tikly, 2001). As Scholte (2000, p. 14) observes, globalisation can represent increasing progress and prosperity while others associate this process with deprivation and doom.

Despite the complexities of globalisation and debates about education policy directions, there is agreement amongst key stakeholders that education has to prepare young Australians to deal with its manifestations. Through the Australian Education Council (AEC), ministers for education from all state and territory governments have sought to define the common aspirations of their various systems, aiming at a consensus on the role of schooling in dealing with the challenges of globalisation. The AEC's Adelaide Declaration of National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-first Century (MCEETYA, 1999) states that:

   schooling should assist young people to contribute to Australia's
   social, cultural and economic development in local and global
   context. (p. 2)

However, others are threatened by 'the realities of new times' (Tudball, 2003, p. 2) and attempts by the education system to respond to local, regional and global realities via curriculum reform. Such reactivists look inward and argue that:

   education provides a moral framework and a cultural context in which
   young Australians both define themselves and address the question:
   what constitutes the good life? (Donnelly, 2004, p. 6)

Critics such as Donnelly argue that the education system has been 'undermined by a series of ideologically driven changes' (Donnelly, 2004, p. 16). In particular, the Key Learning Area (KLA), Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE), has been targeted for critique and labelled 'politically correct'.

Such claims need to be interrogated for, as Kemmis (1990) reminds us, 'debates about curriculum reform reveal the fundamental concerns, uncertainties and tensions which preoccupy nations and states as they struggle to adapt to changing circumstance' (Kemmis, 1990, p. 82).

This article identifies four aspects of the neo-conservative critiques against SOSE (Bolt, 2000; Donnelly, 2004; Mason, 2000; Thomas, 2000). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Is Education for? Situating History, Cultural Understandings and Studies of Society and Environment against Neo-Conservative Critiques of Curriculum Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.