Magazine article Review - Institute of Public Affairs

Failing to Indoctrinate

Magazine article Review - Institute of Public Affairs

Failing to Indoctrinate

Article excerpt

Is education too politically correct and are students in danger of being indoctrinated? Judged by the actions of Professor Wayne Sawyer, President of the NSW English Teachers Association and editor of English in Australia, the answer is 'yes'.

In the current issue of the journal, Sawyer bemoans the fact that exstudents voted to re-elect the Howard Government and argues that this is evidence that English teachers have failed in their job.

Sawyer states: 'We knew the truth about Iraq before the election. Did our former students just not care? We knew before the election that 'children overboard' was a crock, but, as it was yesterday's news, did they not care about that either? Has English failed not only to create critical generations, but also failed to create humane ones?'

Such is the current state of English teaching that it is possible for a senior representative of the subject's professional association, the AATE, to openly argue that it is the role of the English teacher to teach students, as future voters, the correct way to think and the correct way to decide controversial political matters.

In Sawyer's defence, he does make it clear that the editorial is only his opinion and that teachers in the classroom are balanced in their approach. Whether teachers, as a profession, are politically biased, is difficult to prove either way, but what is in no doubt is that professional associations, teacher unions and curriculum guidelines consistently adopt a left-wing, New Age approach to education.

One obvious example of political activism in the classroom is the call to arms made by the Australian Education Union and the NSW Teachers Federation in response to Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq. When the conflict began, teachers were told to protest against the war and to support those students who wanted to demonstrate publicly.

The AEU curriculum policy also argues that such is the capitalist nature of Australian society that our community is inherently inequitable and socially unjust. As the education system reinforces this inequality, it is the role of teachers to oppose competitive assessment, the academic curriculum and a belief in meritocracy and equality of opportunity.

The English Teachers Association has for some years now championed what is termed social-critical literacy. Based on the writings of the Brazilian Marxist, Paulo Freire, the argument is that students must be 'empowered to deconstruct texts' in terms of power relationships.

Or, in the words of the Tasmanian Education Department, social-critical literacy: '...provides us with ways of thinking that uncover social inequalities and injustices. It enables us to address disadvantage and to become agents of social change'.

If social literacy were taught in a balanced and objective way, there would be no concern, but the reality is that it is used to promote a left-wing, New Age view of issues, especially those related to multiculturalism, gender, peace studies, feminism and the class war. …

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