6 May 2004, Comments (0)

Monsieur Backlash will be taking you for French

Author: Helen

I don’t know why some people think the Fairfax press is so left wing. It’s full of articles by, or about, the right wing world view. As an AGE and SMH reader I certainly don’t feel like a member of the chattering classes having my comfortable world view reinforced. More often it’s a window into how the other half thinks. Good for me, I suppose.

Kevin Donnelly, who works for the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, has published a new book claiming that

Schools have been hijacked by “new-age class warrior” teachers more committed to promoting homosexuality, multiculturalism and Aborigines than teaching the three Rs…
…public education is in crisis because political correctness, state-sponsored education fads and left-wing unions have skewed the teacher’s role from objectivity to indoctrination….


By the pricking of my thumbs, a rightwing thinktank this way comes.


The book, published today, was commissioned by the Menzies Research Centre. Its chairman and aspiring Liberal MP, Malcolm Turnbull, said recommendations of an earlier education paper for the centre “have already found their way into government policy”, and the book would spark discussion about the quality of the curriculum.

Looks like Mr Donnelly needs a dose of the three Rs himself. “Forgotten is that many parents would consider the sexual practices of gays, lesbians and transgender individuals decidedly unnatural …” he wrote. Forgotten is his education in English grammar, obviously.

The fact that right wing views like those of Donnelly and the Menzies Research centre have “already found their way into government policy” is no surprise. As a parent with one kid in grade 1 and one in year 7, I eagerly anticipate the exciting new innovations that will be brought in-Sex education bowdlerised, history education windschuttled, strict rhyming and metre enforced in poetry (if poetry is still allowed at all in our “vocational”, business oriented world). We know that the Howard government has already been captured by rhetoric just like that in Mr Donnelly’s book. To accuse teachers and school policy makers of enforcing a particular, “politically correct”, agenda is just projection. Under this government it’s the Menzies Research centre, IPA and other right wing commentators that are politically correct. Literally.

Then there’s Dr Peter West, who is helping to keep the “Schools Unfair to Boys because there’s too many Women” meme alive. Unfortunately, West (and Brendan Nelson as well) are stuck firmly on the idea that the ability to teach boys is biologically determined. Once we start going down that path, our direction back to the 1950s is well and truly set.

Sadly, the “debate” is all too full of statements like this:


The jokey and blokey banter between men and boys is part of this pattern of good relationships that keeps boys feeling that school is a place where they belong. But if all the teachers are female, boys see that learning is women’s work.

And mens’ status is lowered by doing ‘womens’ work’, of course. It’s depressing to see this kind of unexamined comment in an article about education. If some of these common taters think feminism’s gorn too far, for these people it’s as if it never happened.

Comments (0)

  • Sedgwick says:

    “But if all the teachers are female, boys see that learning is women’s work.”

    Putting aside the point that I know he’s trying to make, logic (O.K. that’s a big call chaps, blokes, fellas) would demand “But if all the teachers are female, boys see that *teaching* is women’s work”

    O.K. I’m being picky, but the teacher what tort me clear thimking and spellig in form IV was a middle-aged lesbian who had spent some time in the armed forces. So what would she know? (Other than how to teach up a storm without having to resort to jokey blokey tosh, and so far I have resisted the urge to dress up in khaki and try to bed Ellen Degeneres.)

  • David Tiley says:

    funny that reading etc is taught in bubs and grade one. When I was a trainee teacher, showing the littlees what lesbians did was really really hard.. and I had to beat them repeatedly until they could repeat even a single sentence of Karl Marx.

    These people are toerags. Just toerags.

  • Sedgwick says:

    Not drawing too long a bow to see resonances here? [LINK]

  • Rob Schaap says:

    Mr Donnelly’s grammatic construction seems unfortunately acceptable to this NESBlogger …

    It has often been asked before (of the petulantly homophobic Maggie Thatcher, for one) how one goes about the business of ‘promoting’ homosexuality. Or do these besuited toerags refer merely to attempts to pre-empt self-loathing on the part of the significant minority of their charges predisposed to fancying their fellows and a wholly destructive bigotry on the part of the rest? As multiculturalism is here, in so far as many cultures already interact throughout the land, this, too, seems something past the point of promotion or otherwise. Or do our anti-social engineering social engineers refer merely to taking the occasionally rough with the normally smooth? And would they recommend demoting or ignoring Aborigines, I wonder? The latter strikes me as the more acceptable to formal liberalism (given that ideology’s propensity to confuse formal equality with substantial equity), but anathema to objective people.

  • Helen says:

    Jeez Rob, for a NESBlogger, you construct some bloody long posts with long sentences in them and they are all readable. Not only readable, but lucid and enjoyable (that is, if you don’t mind complexity.) So don’t worry that I’m going to play Grammar God in Bloggorhea comments. If on the other hand you are a columnist pronouncing on all things educational, and you are complaining about the Leftists’ educational competence and advocate a return to the “3 Rs”, well that’s when I get technical. I think if you want to Return to Basics, then f**** get the basics right or get out of my face!

  • Brian Bahnisch says:

    Helen, I’m new here and I’m fully aware that I’m not god, although in striving for both clarity and brevity I might sometimes sound as though I think I am.

    I’d just like to record that I thought Mr Donelly’s grammatic formation unusual but OK within the elasticities of English.

    I also couldn’t see anything in Rob’s remarks about returning to basics or Leftists educational competence. Maybe I’m missing some subtleties of expression somewhere.

  • Helen says:

    Brian,
    First half of my last comment
    from “Geez Rob…Bloggorhea comments”
    referred to Rob, who I admire greatly
    Second half
    from “If on the other hand…” to “get out of my face”
    referred to Donnelly!
    Rob, I hope you didn’t think I was referring to you in that second part! Another idea I was trying to put across (badly it seems) was that I will forgive minor slipups from intelligent writers writing about most topics, but if someone is banging on about the need for Basics in Education, then I expect him (Donnelly, not Schaap) to get the basics right.

    Seems I’ve mistakenly pissed off ALL my favourite readers this time. Good one Helen.

  • Helen says:

    D’oh, also for the record, I think Rob writes beautifully – I wouldn”t include him in a criticism of blogger grammar at all!

  • Brian Bahnisch says:

    Hey, Helen, it looks as though I misunderstood you over at Barista as well – probably because I was tired too. Advancing age, I’m afraid!

    You’re doing just fine!

  • Rob Schaap says:

    Not that I can imagine you ever pissing me off, Hels, but I understood you just fine.

    Rob (who still has enough boy in him to come over all uncomfortably gratified when a girl says something nice)

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