Friday, 14 March 2014,
PO Box 1316,
Department of Education
Professor Ken Wiltshire;
Dr Kevin Donnelly,
RE: Submission for the review of the Australian Curriculum
In writing this submission, I do not write as an educator, but as a theologian and one interested in worldviews. This may seem strange to some, but there is an important link that often is not made or which is deliberately overlooked.
The Bible tells us that “where a man’s treasure is, there his heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Jesus, in similar terms, stated that ‘it is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but that which flows forth from his heart’ (Matthew 15:19). Scripture also informs us that, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).
The point of this little Biblical excursion is to point out that facts must be interpreted and that each man will interpret those facts in accordance with his worldview. Facts do not speak for themselves. Facts must be interpreted; they must be made sense of. Equally, each man will, consciously or subconsciously, seek to propagate interpreted facts that support his worldview.
What this means, in reality, is that there is no such thing as neutrality – religious, philosophical, or, as in the case before us, educational. The concept of neutrality is an absolute myth, yet it is continually peddled as though it is fact.
In regard to the review being conducted, it is important that this great elephant in our midst be spoken of, finally. State education has been steadily implementing an agenda that is consistent with its secular worldview. In the last decade, this implementation has become more aggressive and is evident to any who care to look. The State has acted under the guise of neutrality and couched their agenda in terms of equality and fairness.
The question then is: “Does the Education Department truly promote an equal, fair, and neutral curriculum?” The answer is, No!
As a Christian, it is obvious that one large element missing from the modern curriculum is Christianity itself. Some will argue that Religious Education programmes exist. However, even a cursory glance at those programmes shows that they are vetted, watered down, and hobbled. I cannot go into a school and teach the truth as held in orthodox Christianity. I am not welcome to teach Creation as against evolution; I am not free to teach absolute morality as opposed to situational ethics; I am not free to teach that man is responsible to his God as opposed to stating that he is autonomous and free.
If I, as a Christian, state that I would like to teach these things or open each day with prayer, I am said to be “pushing my religious barrow”. The label of “being biased” would quickly be applied. I would be told that Jesus Christ has no place in a secular school or institution. Yet, are those creating the current curriculum willing to admit to their worldview? Are they willing to admit that they too are pushing a “religious barrow” and that they are as “biased” as I?
As an example, we have seen many anti-bullying programmes enter schools. This seems to be a good initiative. However, if we strip away the veneer of neutrality and equality, we quickly find bias and inequality, as most of the programmes are ways of promoting homosexuality by stealth. Again, if neutrality and equality are true tenets in the current system, invite along a mainline, orthodox Christian, to teach on sexuality and marriage from God’s perspective.
Similarly, the “priorities” currently in place seem to be highlighting the virtues of certain politically charged issues in regard to culture and environment. Is there something wrong with promoting the foundational virtues of Western Culture or are they a bit too obviously Christian? Can we not teach a Biblical view of the environment and highlight God’s command to man to be a ‘good steward’ of the earth?
Herein, we encounter the essence of the problem when education is founded upon the myth of neutrality. Experience in homeschooling and Christian schools shows me that the State is apt to demand conformity to its desires and agenda. It demands that Christ be absent from the secular education system whilst demanding that He also be removed or compromised in Christian educational settings. Christ cannot be openly taught in the secular system, but evolution and questionable ethics must be taught in Christian institutions. Neutrality? Equality?
Thus, the first request would be that if the State education system is going to operate under the guise of neutrality and equality, that it genuinely does so and not feign compliance to these standards. Equally, if these standards are to be upheld, then allow Christ to be truly taught in the secular system or give the opportunity for Christian schools to be genuinely Christian.
The last issue is an appeal to experience. Whilst one must be careful with the, “When I was a boy!” routine, lest it become hackneyed, the reality is that anyone with one good eye can see that the abandonment of a Christian worldview for a self-consciously secular or atheistic worldview has had a dramatic and negative impact on our society.
News articles of recent have highlighted just how poorly our students are faring in comparison to other countries, as far as academic standing is concerned. Then we have the ethical, moral, and behavioural issues that are endemic and almost pandemic. The secular worldview has robbed several generations of a sense of purpose, a sense of society, a sense of responsibility, and even the sense of true identity.
We here now mostly of the student’s rights. What of the student’s responsibility to learn, to apply themselves, to step up to maturity so as to take a meaningful place in the world? This, after all, is what education is all about, is it not? Education is not just placing facts and figures in a person’s cranial cavity; it is about training the whole man.
Again, those pushing the myth of neutrality will hide behind the facts and figures concept of education, as opposed to the idea of training the whole man. However, as we have noted, the current system is failing on both accounts, so those responsible really have nothing to be proud of in this regard.
The apostle, Paul, writing to the Colossians (2:3) says that, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Jesus Christ. Therefore, a system of education that denies God and the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ, is going to be one which is devoid of true depth and understanding. It is a system that will lead to the installation of facts and figures, which may lead to the making of a “smart” man. However, such facts and figures will never make a mature man. What our society needs are wise, ethical, courageous, mature men, who, knowing right from wrong, can and will make wise choices, give wise guidance, and thus secure happiness for himself and his neighbour (and their grandchildren!); for they know what is right and they know the correct path to follow in order to arrive at their goal.
If we look at history, we will see that the jettisoning of the Christian worldview and the adoption of the secular atheistic worldview has radically transformed this nation, to its detriment. This has happened, substantially, through the hijacking of the educational system. If the ‘myth of neutrality’ and the ‘facts and figures’ brigade continue at the helm, that detriment will only continue and worsen. We cannot, as a nation, a society, or as individuals, hope to secure a positive future based on immorality. Proverbs says that, “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (14:34). The terms “righteousness” and “sin” mean something to the wise, mature man. They mean nothing to the smart man.
Thus, the second plea is that there be an admission that the educational system is failing in our day—a failure that is both palpable and comparable. Not only are we not producing the “smart” man, we are not producing the “wise” man. Where once we trained the whole man, we are quickly reaching the point at which we train no man.
Gentlemen, they only way back is for there to be an honest critique of the worldview that undergirds the current philosophy of education and thus the current curriculum. There must be an open adherence to the concept of “ideas having consequences”. There must be a willingness to admit to the consequences of current views and a willingness to both condemn them and to change direction when they are indeed exposed as false and inadequate. There is no point to simply “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” after it has hit the berg. Such activity serves no long term purpose. So it is here. The good-ship ‘Education” has hit the berg and is sinking. Shuffling chairs will not avail. There is an opportunity to make the changes necessary to restore education in this country to its rightful position and through that restoration to make Australia a better place. Please take that opportunity for radical, Christ-like change, and not be tempted into simply rearranging a few chairs.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
PO Box 1316,
Ph: 035727 0502
Fax: 035727 0542