Does a national curriculum champion diversity?

Well one of the first things I said when I became Labor’s spokesman on Education was to say I strongly supported a national curriculum, that having a national curriculum would be in our national interest. We are now a much more mobile workforce nation and as a consequence a much more mobile education nation. People are entitled as they move from State to State for employment purposes, to see their children being taught the same things in our primary schools and in our secondary schools.

Australian Labor Party: National Curriculum; Polls

Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Education & Training

Labour’s Stephen Smith made this comment in a doorstop interview earlier today.

I’m in two minds about having a natinal curriculum for our schools. In saying this, I’m also conscious that we have a national system for vocational education and training via the national training packages. How well is this working? What are the drawbacks? How is a national curriculum necessarily better than a state-by-state education system?

Acknowledging the increased mobility of our families and our workforce is one aspect, yes. Perhaps this is more a fly-away line: “to see their children being taught the same things in our primary schools and in our secondary schools” from Smith, but it made me wonder whether it won’t carry more weight in standardising curricula in such a way as to become homogenous. I worry about our diversity and the fact that we do not seem to value diversity across business, education and governance. At the community level, diversity is the very heart of community, however.

Image: inkynobaka

Perhaps I shouldn’t jump the gun too quickly, as in an earlier interview, Smith said:

If you have a national curriculum, there will of course be sensible
local and regional variations, but we can have consistency very much in
the core subjects, the important subjects of maths and science and the

I think there is still much debate to be had over what these core subjects actually are. Maths and Science are certainly core to numeracy, problem solving and teamed with English and Communication for developing literacy and socialisation, you have what appears to be a straightforward and relevant curriculum. I recently viewed this video
referred by the Eide Neurolearning Blog, about the need to revisit the way maths is being taught in US schools. What this indicates, and reaffirms for me, is that there is little consensus as to what we mean by core subjects or core skills.

Wouldn’t we be better off to converse on this issue of a national curriculum with a view to outlining a sense of purpose to underpin further decisions? Should we perhaps leave some room to talk about what IS working at the state level, so we don’t throw the “baby out with the bath water”?

Image: carf

What might our “ideal” curriculum look like if we consider Rudd’s education revolution close up? What would we like to “revolutionise”?

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2 comments so far

  1. Graham Wegner on

    Sometimes when politicians mention core subjects and core curriculum, they actually mean traditional subjects and traditional curriculum. And how much diversity is valued by any of our governments is up for debate as well!

  2. […] Does a national curriculum champion diversity? […]

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