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The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Review Authority is failing the national interest test

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 15 July 2021

They say that a country is a state of mind rather than a place. It has some truth to it - places, no matter how diverse, can function as countries, as long as they share common values and attitudes.

The purpose of cultural institutions like schools and universities, is to support those common values and attitudes. That doesn't mean that values and culture are static, but you need evolution, not revolution.

Our education system is declining because it is in revolt against the culture which has served us so well. This has been going on for around 50 years, since the seventies, when educational achievement peaked. But none of our ministers for education has put the brakes on, let alone changed direction.


The new draft curriculum is another waypost on that accelerating decline.

If the first sign of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, how are we to describe the state of mind that implements the same failed policy twice as hard and expects an even better result?

Yet that is what is happening with the new draft curriculum doubling down on the failed experiments of the current one.

Our results lag our competitors in South-East Asia, to the extent that a Year 9 student in Singapore or China will outperform a Year 12 student in Australia. How is doubling down on our current approach going to bridge this gap?

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Review Authority should be abolished and the education ministers need to start again.

Australia is one of the leading countries in the world for standard of living and quality of life.


We are one of the most desirable destinations for migrants per capita, demonstrating this success. We also rate extremely well on a range of international comparisons including freedom, corruption and happiness.

We also find ourselves in the least secure international situation for three generations. When someone told me off for being a cold war warrior on China I asked them to name something Hitler had done pre-1939 that Xi hadn't also done. There was silence.

In 1939 a lot of people didn't see a problem with Hitler, and perhaps the reason that a large number of people don't see a problem with Xi can also be sheeted home to our education system. Anyone ill-informed enough to compare Trump to Hitler (which is a huge swathe of the population) knows nothing of either Trump or Hitler. A good education system would surely have quashed this false analogy.

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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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