Just 150 hours will encompass all aspects of John Howard’s history lessons according to his blueprint for a national history curriculum.
Left out of his vanilla brand of history are iconic events, such as:
- the Eureka rebellion;
- Ned Kelly’s comeuppence;
- slave trading in Kanakas;
- acceptance of homosexuality as a societal reality by Tasmania;
- the Stolen Generation and White Australia Policy; and
- the implications of British atomic testing in the 1950’s
Iconic points in this nation’s history. Iconic points which Howard chooses not to acknowledge as having happened, or simply doesn’t see fit to be taught to children as formative events in this nation’s crucible. How, for instance, can children be made aware of Ned Kelly, yet not be allowed to learn who he was, why he did what he did and how he ended his days? It’s relatively easy to understand Howard’s wont to ignore Eureka. The event, it’s causal factors and outcome don’t fit his ideology. It’s as simple as that, yet Eureka is a pivotal point in our history. It helps to explain much of today’s Australian psyche. Why we are how we are.
John Howard is clearly troubled by the realities of homosexuality, preferring to adopt the stance that if he ignores it, then it doesn’t exist. Similarly with the forced importation of black labour to North Queensland cane fields during the 19th century. His ideological bias against indigenous culture remaining a seperate entity to mainstream white Australia may well be a product of his youth, his generation and upbringing. Why though should today’s generation be subjected to an ethos which is so essentially ‘dark age’?
The teaching of history must be left to those who are not afraid of the boils and carbunkles it contains. Nor should history be amended, buffed up and sweetened to suit individual sensibilities. History is what it is. Full of nasty things, as well as uplifting times. History makes us who and what we are. Proud of it or not, it cannot and must not be allowed to be altered to suit any single ideological viewpoint, else we risk denigrating not only the memory of those who came before us, but belittling our position in the present as ignorant of how we arrived here.