I’M disappointed that Mrs Monsour in her letter to the editor (CL 16/7/00) appears to have disregarded her own advice and failed to read through the Studies of Society and Environment syllabus, the sourcebook guidelines and modules of work.
To the contrary, she appears rather to have made a very biased selection of information upon which to base her objections.
The Studies of society and environment syllabus with its supporting materials is a broad and complex framework which sets out what students will learn and do (core leaning outcomes) within other significant information designed to assist systems, schools and teachers to plan, teach and assess their students. The syllabus presents a comprehensive and rich selection of material to provide students with the best, and arguably the most extensive learning yet devised by a social studies syllabus in this state.
To select elements and statements from one section, as she does with her references to Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh, and place them alongside the key values in such a clearly incorrect manner is to deliberately distort the intention and spirit of the document as Mrs Monsour, a teacher and researcher, well knows.
What she and her organisation have failed to tell her reading audience is that on the very same page where she finds Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh, teachers are also asked to examine federation, the depression, the Anzac tradition, Australia’s international relations, the Cold War, UN peacekeeping, Henry Parkes, Emily Pankhurst and Enid Lyons. And this is only one page of the 47 pages which constitute the syllabus document! Other parts of the syllabus encourage a study of our cultural, social and political heritage, World War II, our government structures and Australia’s place in the modern world.
Her letter would lead one to believe that “social activism” is suspect and will not prepare students for participation in present and future life roles. Without the social activism associated with the abovenamed Australian personalities and events, we would not in this country be in a position to exercise our democratic rights, engage in the social and political contract, and value peace, democracy and social justice to the remarkable extent that we do.
To suggest that the Queensland teaching force can’t or won’t make sound professional judgments in the best interests of children when using this syllabus, is to suggest that teachers are incapable of achieving a balance and is to underestimate and denigrate the professionalism, commitment and integrity of the Queensland teaching force. Catholic schools in Queensland have a highly professional, capable and ethical teaching force who teach from a Catholic world view underpinned by theologies which support democracy, the rule of law, care for God’s creation, peace and love.
I feel confident that when the majority of parents read the syllabus and speak with their children’s teachers, they will realise that it is balanced, rich and comprehensive and that our children will be very well equipped to actively participate in all aspects of the life of this nation and make a positive contribution to a peaceful future.
JUDY GARDINER Catholic Education Curriculum Consultant on the Design Brief writing team and Syllabus Advisory Committee Brisbane, Qld