21 April, 2006

why are you reading this shit?

"Rubbish"! "Gobbledegook"!

Our esteemed leader - no longer content with drawing our nation into illegal wars, laying waste to workers' rights, redrawing our nautical borders every time a refugee looks twice at us, telling us who can and can't get married, etc etc - is now trying to tell us what our children should be reading in school...

From The Australian:
John Howard believes the postmodern approach to literature being taught in schools is "rubbish" and is considering tying education funding to ending the "gobbledegook" taught in some states. The Prime Minister made the threat after accusing the state education authorities of "dumbing down" the English syllabus and succumbing to political correctness.

Ah yes. Equating postmodernism with political correctness. He's clearly showing the prowess of his own education and reading there... because as we all know, potmodernism and political correctness are Exactly The Same Thing.

He goes on to criticise the inclusion of modern forms of text as part of the study of English. Heaven forbid teenagers should be taught to analyse the world around them. For goodness sake, they might start asking questions or even THINKING, and then where would we be?! Mr Howard feels that there should be more of an emphasis on "Classics"... which is appropriate really, since his entire ideology dates from pre-1950 and he's doing his best to drag this country kicking and screaming into the Dark Ages.

Clearly it has escaped Little Johnny's notice that Classics take time to become part of the literature canon. Nothing is instantly a Classic. (Yes, Shannon Noll may have debuted at Number 1, but that's not the same thing.) Romeo and Juliet was the Neighbours of its day. As the Information Age turns ever faster on its axis, it is more important than ever that we are aware and analytical of current forms of expression - not just those which are tried and tested. We live in a world (yes, Mr Howard, a postmodern world) where we are increasingly analytical of literature, art, events and media as they happen. Surely teaching our kids the skills they need to adequately take in and make their own judgements on this information is no bad thing. But NO says Mr Howard. Rubbish! Gobbledegook! Classics! Classics! Classics!

And watch out you pesky, pinko teachers! Johnny is onto you! Don't you go trying to make the old-school stalwarts of the Literature curriculum relevant or - worse still - interesting to students by applying modern concerns. That's a big no-no.

Just ask Dame Leonie Kramer, who is troubled by "the notion that you have to read, let us say Shakespeare, in relation to contemporary preoccupations such as race and class".

So... we don't want our English classes "dumbed-down". But we also don't want you analysing texts or talking about issues. Is that clear? Because Literature is NOT about issues. For example, there is nothing whatsoever to be learned by modern audiences about race, class, gender or anything else, from Shakespeare. Got it? Dumbing down also includes discussion of "a broad range of cultural and social theory from Marxism to post-structuralism, feminism and queer theory". So none of that either. Just teach the Literature.

Although once you have removed all social issues and any semblance of context from the lesson, one has to wonder what will be left to teach... not to mention, who on earth will care.

Another great day for the Clever Country.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Reth10 said...

Won't somebody think of the children??!

Now, I don't criticise John Howard for not really knowing what post modernism is, it's struggle for a good many of us. But his obvious temptation to link in to that nasty horrible, left wing, elitist, political correctness (everyone gasp!) that mobilises the baby boomers so, is just wearing a little transparent.

I'm glad that we can finally pin falling education standards on those lesbo pinko teachers and not on reduced budgets for education, preferential treatment of private schools, shrinking numbers of tertiary education places and degrees-for-sale.

Because that would imply the government had fucked up. And the government has not fucked up! You hear me! It runs a very strong economy that does not at all use temporary solutions that cause long term economic problems while not at all diminishing the rights of the individual. Indeed, if Australians just worked harder, they'd be able to afford degrees too.

So if your child can't count past 20 (21 in the shower) it's not because you didn't pay enough attention to its development or participate in its education. It's not because your first home owners grant went to a shack under power lines or because you let junior eat paint as a youngster. And it's CERTAINLY not the government's fault.

It's because a bunch of people who get paid very little and receive next to no respect have dedicated their lives to trying to give your kids an unbiased view of the world they live in.

And what MAKES a classic??!? I consider "Midnight's Children" to be a Classic, but it mentions vaginas, so I doubt it makes John Howard's list of appropriate reading for the morally upright. "In Search of Lost Time" has poofters and lesbos in it, despite being, in many people's opinions, one of the best examples of the 20th Century novel. So that's off the list. Maybe Lytton Strachey's biography of Queen Victoria? That seems dry enough! But wait, what if the chidlets discover that it's mildly sarcastic the whole way through?

Shakespeare has fuck jokes.
Jane Austen suggests that women are people.
Victor Hugo makes gross overexaggerations about class struggle.
Christopher Marlowe was a fag.
Charles *Dick*ens? Let's not even go there.

We certainly shouldn't acknowledge that times are changing; that people now receive information in mulitlateral formats and that teaching postmodern texts will help kids understand new information quicker, with less confusion and manipulation and may grow to be free-thinking adults who may lead Australia into the future (as opposed to, say, the 1950s)

That would be left wing and elitist. And that is bad.

Only reading the Classics is good. And that's certainly not elitist.

(Thanks mindlessmunkey, I didn't realise how angry I was about that one)

April 21, 2006 8:24 pm  

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