Class Action – Using Our Children For Climate Activism
Thank you for your support and encouragement of our Class Action research program. I was delighted to see so many of you download the curriculum resource I shared with you in my last email – Is Western Civilisation Part of Life Today?. As I mentioned in my most recent email to you, the Institute of Public Affairs has produced curriculum materials to support parents and teachers who want to impart a balanced and rigorous education to young Australians.
It was wonderful to hear your stories of how these materials are helping you face Australia’s education crisis. I am keen to hear how these resources are helping you too, so please don’t hesitate to share your experiences with me. [If you have subscribed to Class Action since my last email, you can download the resources here.]
Is Western Civilisation Part of Life Today? is just one of a library of resources which I'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks and months.
In this email, I want to share some recent news concerning our education system which will give you an insight into why Class Action is so important.
Students encouraged to assume the role of an activist
I’ll start with IPA research. As you may know, I am currently undertaking an audit of the new National Curriculum that will be rolled out across public and private schools next year. This research will assess whether the National Curriculum is objective, balanced and knowledge-based or biased and ideological.
Charlie Chadwick recently wrote an article for The Spectator Australia highlighting how the National Curriculum is explicitly encouraging students to become climate change activists. He shared these specific findings:
Version 9.0 of the National Curriculum, approved by state and federal Education Ministers earlier this year, explicitly encourages students to assume the role of being an activist on Climate Change.
Year 10 Science students are asked to design a public performance about Climate Change, ‘to encourage people to take specific action’, while Year 9 Civics and Citizenship students are tasked with planning ‘a citizenship campaign on an issue related to sustainability or Climate Change’.
Plainly, boys and girls aren’t merely taught to grasp a concept, but to preach a progressive perspective. [Read here]
As Charlie highlights, in both subtle and explicit ways, the National Curriculum encourages students to take political action. Education should be about acquainting students with the truth of all things and fostering in them a curiosity for learning. Students should be learning how to use a balance of logic, reason and emotion.
Despite popular narratives pushed by the media, the science of climate change is still very uncertain. As eminent physicist Steven Koonin, former undersecretary of science in the Obama administration, argues in his recently published book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us scientific claims of climate change and its impact are far more uncertain than popular and political discussions reflect.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can hear from Steven Koonin directly on exactly how ‘unsettled’ the science of climate change is. [Watch here]
When it’s not ACARA, it’s the state governments
A Class Action subscriber recently sent me a report that was tabled before the Education and Health Standing Committee set up by the Western Australia Legislative Assembly to inquire into the response of Western Australian schools to climate change.
The report is entitled Making Hope Practical – though one would be hard pressed to find a less hopeful document. I’ll share a few nuggets from this report:
Responding to the threat of climate change is a challenge for the whole of humanity. But, for young people it can simultaneously present as a threat to their future and as a problem that is beyond their sphere of influence.
The rise in the number of students who suffer from anxiety is of grave concern, some specifically nominate climate change as the cause of their anxiety.
It is impossible to see how the aspirations of these national and international agreements could be achieved without including climate action in schools.
In addition to decision-makers taking action more widely, the education system should validate student voices by facilitating climate action in the environment where children and young people spend most of their time outside home. [Read here]
The report’s message is that climate change affects every facet of life from the food we eat, the transport we take, our mental health, and the actions we should be taking within the broader community. No wonder students are anxious!
The ways this report encourages schools to validate and address children’s anxieties are incredibly extensive (and time consuming) and infiltrates every aspect of thinking.
If you have the time I encourage you to read this report and ask yourself if this is what you want the limited time, resources and attention of our schools and teachers to be used for.
Meanwhile students are fading at the finishing line
Of course, attending protests and designing slogans might be ok, if it was indeed making our children smarter, more resilient and better prepared for the challenges of adult life.
However, a recent article that appeared in The Age suggests otherwise. It reported that in Victoria, the epicentre of progressive politics in Australia, students were choosing unscored VCE – where students finish VCE without sitting for exams to get an ATAR score used to apply to universities – in unprecedented numbers. As the article says:
New figures reveal that a record 5373 students, 10.6 per cent of the 2021 cohort, completed their VCE last year without sitting exams and gaining an ATAR, which is the typical way to enter university.
Principals said there was a growing trend for Victorian students rejecting the rigours and stress of exams because they were prioritising their mental health or pursuing post-school pathways, such as TAFE or employment, that do not require an ATAR. [Read here]
What an indictment of Victoria’s school system!
You are not alone
Lest you think the IPA is the only organisation questioning the intent of the National Curriculum, I’d like to share a recent report published by The Centre for Independent Studies that makes similar arguments about the National Curriculum.
The report by Joanna Williams is entitled Teaching National Shame: History and citizenship in the school curriculum, and she writes:
History classes increasingly focus on past wrongdoings rather than celebrating national successes, and schools promote global citizenship rather than national citizenship. Where the curriculum does not directly challenge national values and identity, it does not prevent potentially activist teachers from inculcating this interpretation of subject knowledge. The upshot is a cohort of young people are left alienated from a shared sense of national identity. [Read here]
Joanna wrote about the emphasis on ‘global citizenship’ in the National Curriculum – often at the cost of national identity – in a recent article published in The Australian. If you have the time, I’d recommend you read it. [Read here $]
So is anyone speaking up for our concerns?
Peter Dutton spoke last month about parental concerns regarding the current state of education. As reported in The Australian, Dutton said:
We have to have a broader discussion in this country about what is being taught and about involvement and engagement with parents because there is a lot of non-core curriculum that is being driven by unions and by other activists that parents are concerned about. [Read here $]
Education is indeed a key battleground, and something I hope my research will help shed more light on. But it is yet to be seen how the Opposition will follow through on this, particularly given the fact both the Coalition and Labor approved the new National Curriculum.
This is why I request you to forward this email to friends and family, and encourage them to subscribe to Class Action by visiting our website. [View website here] More Australians need to learn what is being taught to children in our schools, if we want to bring about any change.
Coming up next…
The Class Action team is compiling another great resource for you – 40 valuable books for children and teenagers. It will include many classics and is being put together in consultation with parents and teachers.
In the meantime, do send me any reports, media articles or feedback you may have about the Australian education system.