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Intercultural understanding

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 8 September 2014

The Courier-Mail of Saturday 6 September 2014 carried on its Page 3 a story headlined "Back to basics for kids at school" which provided some conjecture on the report submitted to federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne by Professor Kenneth Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly following their review of the Australian Curriculum. The opening paragraph of the story was:

  • "Teachers will be instructed to focus on literacy and numeracy rather than vague postmodern themes such as "intercultural understandings", under a plan to revamp the national curriculum."

The following letter was submitted in response. The version published in the paper on Monday 8 September had the underlined words deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. It appeared as the second of two letters under the heading "Education report spells end to creativity".

Understanding of others a worthy educational goal

Intercultural understanding is one of the general capabilities to be developed, as opportunities arise, in teaching the Australian Curriculum.

The first sentence of explanation of this element on the website of the  (The) Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority website says: “students develop intercultural understanding as they learn to value their own cultures, languages and beliefs, and those of others”.

It was disappointing to see this worthy educational goal dismissed in your report as a “vague postmodern theme” (“Back to basics for kids at school”, 6/9).

Without this goal, harmful fear and hatred of any cultures different from our own are likely to fester and grow.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)

Author: Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags: Curriculum matters

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