Barry Down describes curriculum design in much the same way when he claims that in the years following World War Two Australian civics education was planned under…
Barry Down describes curriculum design in much the same way when he claims that in the years following World War Two Australian civics education was planned under ‘perpetual tension and conflict between the imperatives of capitalism and democracy’. The suggestion seems to be that an ideal democratic education is possible, if short‐term political and economic considerations had not prevented this. I argue that this suggestion is naive. The democratic idea is not static ‘short term prudential requirements of the moment’, whether concerned with war, imperialism, fear of communism, industrial development, or otherwise, create the conditions by which democratic society is defined. This definition is embedded in civics education with the hope that children might perfect that society in adulthood. But visions of the ideal society do not only concern civics education, lessons on right behaviour. Rather, the very world children are educated to see depends on the politics and economics at the time that curriculum is designed. The content of lessons, the way the lessons are taught, and the underlying assumptions about what the world is like ‐ all are constituted by politics. Therefore, to understand civics education it is important to delve deeper and locate the epistemological basis of social studies education in the political context of its time. What children are taught about the social world as a whole should be considered before civics education can make any sense. To make this argument I look at the two curricula used at Victorian primary schools in the mid twentieth century, put in place in 1934 and 1952
The purpose of this paper is to explore representations of Aboriginal people, in particular children, in the Victorian government’s school reader The School Paper, from…
The purpose of this paper is to explore representations of Aboriginal people, in particular children, in the Victorian government’s school reader The School Paper, from the end of the Second World War until its publication ceased in 1968. The author interrogates these representations within the framework of pedagogies of citizenship training and the development of national identity, to reveal the role Aboriginal people and their culture were accorded within the “imagined community” of Australian nationhood and its heritage and history.
The paper draws on the rich material available in the Victorian Department of Education’s school reader, The School Paper, from 1946 to 1968 (when the publication ceased), and on the Department’s annual reports. These are read within the context of scholarship on race, education and citizenship formation in the post-war years.
State government policies of assimilation following the Second World War tied in with pedagogies and curricula regarding citizenship and belonging, which became a key focus of education departments following the Second World War. The informal pedagogies of The School Paper’s representations of Aboriginal children and their families, the author argues, excluded Aboriginal communities from understandings of Australian nationhood, and from conceptions of the ideal Australian citizen-in-formation. Instead, representations of Aboriginal people relegated them to the outdoors in ways that racialised Australian spaces: Aboriginal cultures are portrayed as historical yet timeless, linked with the natural/native rather than civic/political environment.
This paper builds on scholarship on the relationship between education, reading pedagogies and citizenship formation in Australia in the post-war years to develop our knowledge of how conceptions of the ideal Australian citizen of the future – that is, Australian students – were inherently racialised. It makes a new contribution to scholarship on the assimilation project in Australia, through revealing the relationship between government policies towards Aboriginal people and the racial and cultural qualities being taught in Australian schools.