The head of the government's curriculum review, Kevin Donnelly, said yesterday that corporal punishment in schools was an effective way of disciplining children. The conversation continued, leading to the implication that Donnelly is not averse to reintroducing corporal punishment into Australian schools.
Australia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Australia therefore has obligations to protect children from violence
or abuse, by their parents or anyone caring for them (article 19); and
discipline in schools should respect children's human dignity (article
28). There is no overarching statute however that implements the
provisions of this Convention and regulation of schools and criminal
laws that may apply, are left to the states.
A number of news outlets have conveniently summarised the legal framework on corporal punishment in schools - see eg Crikey's explainer. There seem to be examples in both West Australia and Queensland where corporal punishment is integral to some schools' program - including in one reported case, the requirement for parents to accept corrective punishment as a condition of enrolling their child.
For a government appointee ostensibly holding expertise in education and
charged with advising government on matters of education, these
comments and their implication are concerning. This is so despite Minister Pyne's rejection of the idea. What these views really tell us about the state of play in Australia at the moment is the resurgence of patriarchal views and patriarchal control. These views are apparent, for example, in the government's discourse around 'lifting and leaning'. Donnelly's views play into this discourse.
I'm interested in this post to explore the way in which this patriarchal attitude underpins support for corporal punishment in schools, and the lack of logic in Donnelly's ideas.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Friday, 4 July 2014
|Australia: settled? Unsettled?|
Similarly, this week New Matilda reported on Rolf Harris' racism, noting his 2008 comments thatI guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land.
The attitude is that in their [ie Aboriginal peoples'] original way of life they would really wreck the surrounding countryside that they lived in and they would leave all the garbage and they would go walkabout to the next place.Without addressing the implications of the Prime Minister's equating English acquisition of Australian territory with the benign sounding 'foreign investment', the allegation of a 'scarcely settled' land deserves correction. Like Rolf Harris' statement, it represents a misunderstanding of the nature of connection, occupation and use of land by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. While I cannot speak for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, I believe that I can point out the obvious mistake in these outdated notions.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|Information exchange the old way*|
So far these are justifications for changing what we do but without much direction in how we might go about it. I'm cognisant of the reality for many academics that a lot of change is just hard work. However I believe that it is our job, our responsibility to keep abreast of change, to evaluate, to experiment and to lead. In this post I suggest a few steps that each of us can surely take to kick off a more wide-ranging change within the discipline.