Critics fear science lessons will be “dumbed down. Picture: iStock
Critics fear science lessons will be “dumbed down. Picture: iStock

Outrage at new PC push in science classroom

RACIAL politics have been injected into the national science curriculum in a move slammed by critics as "dumbing down" lessons in the classroom.

Curriculum chiefs have come under fire for including indigenous "histories and cultures" in science classes while the academic performance of Australian children falls behind the rest of the world.

 

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The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has published 95 ways science teachers are being told to incorporate Aboriginal culture into their lessons.

ACARA chief executive Rob Randall said the examples were "scientifically rigorous­ demonstrating how indigenous history, culture, knowledge and understanding can be incorporated into teaching core scientific concepts­".

But author and senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University Kevin Donnelly yesterday slammed the move as "the latest egregious example of how political correctness is dumbing down the school curriculum".

Shifting the science syllabus.
Shifting the science syllabus.

 

Despite this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said teachers using examples "involving spears and boomerangs" would help children learn in the classroom.

"I think they should be using every resource available to them to get our kids passionate and interested about science.

"And if that involves using the stories from indigenous culture to help them engage kids with science and help them understand science - I'm for whatever tool they need to help kids better understand science."

The changes include Year 10 students researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' knowledge of celestial bodies and explanations of the origin of the universe. Another lesson will investigate how indigenous people achieved an increase in velocity and impact force through the use of spear throwers and bows.

Students also will be taught to "acknowledge the need to critically analyse scientific literature for potential cultural bias towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples".

The last Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study shows Australia is being outperformed by a large number of countries - including Kazakhstan.

A recent study show Australia is being outperformed in maths and science by a large number of countries.
A recent study show Australia is being outperformed in maths and science by a large number of countries.

"At a time when Australian students are going backwards … one would expect, instead of this latest example of PC cultural sensitivity, that  ACARA would focus on ensuring the existing curriculum is academically rigorous and based on the established disciplines," Dr Donnelly said.

But Mr Randall said it was crucial to include "respect and understanding of 65,000-plus years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history" and combine the best of indigenous and Western scientific understandings.

He was backed by Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, who said ACARA was "immersing students in the scientific basis of traditional knowledges and practices".