This is Kevin Donnelly.
He is the man who has been chosen to review the national school curriculum by Education Minister Christopher Pyne. In other words, he’s in charge of the conversation about what our kids are going to learn at school.
Gone are the days when you just learned reading, writing and arithmetic. The school curriculum in now a political football of epic proportions. And it’s currently having the sh*t kicked out of it by both sides.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is the founder of the Education Standards Institute (an organisation which “favours an education system based on … a commitment to Christian beliefs and values”) and former chief-of-staff to Liberal Party Minister Kevin Andrews.
So the fact that a guy with a pretty clear political agenda is in charge of the curriculum review is – in itself – controversial. While you might never heard of Donnelly before, he is a pretty outspoken guy with some
screwed up somewhat unusual and highly contentious opinions.
Here are six quotes, which probably point to his take on the world around us — and what your kids might be learning in school in the not too distant future.
1. In his article ‘The gender agenda’ in 2005, Donnelly wrote, “Governments and teacher groups around Australia, for some years, have pushed the rights of gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on the basis that there is nothing wrong with such lifestyles.”
Because advocating for the rights of marginalised groups who are institutionally discriminated against is way more evil than, you know, saying that there is something “wrong” with being gay.
2. In 2004, he criticised the Australian Education Union’s curriculum policy for being “One which refuses to hold teachers or schools publicly accountable, that is anti-family and that promotes the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and that applauds PC fads like black armband history”.
Wow. Tell us how you really feel, Donnelly.
I wouldn’t call black armband history a “PC fad”. In fact, I would just call it “history”. Because all that stuff — Britain founding a colony of banished convicts on a land that was already inhabited and claiming it as their own, before proceeding to oppress and ignore the rights of Indigenous Australians for years and years and years?
Yeah, that actually happened.
3. Donnelly defended his decision to leave the health risks associated with smoking out of a school program for children by saying, “It was more a resilience program… A lot of the health impacts had been, and were being, covered very well”.
This was when Donnelly was employed by tobacco company Phillip Morris, and was tasked with designing a school program to teach children about peer pressure and decision-making.
A key pressure that children face when growing up is, of course, the peer pressure to smoke. Donnelly’s information pack omitted all health risks about smoking.
4. Donnelly also believes “Multiculturalism is based on the mistaken belief that all cultures are of equal worth and that it is unfair to discriminate and argue that some practices are wrong.”
Actually, I don’t think that’s the belief that multiculturalism is based on at all. Sorry, Dr Donnelly. I hate to use my amazing research skills taught to me throughout my perfectly acceptable public education, but according to the Oxford Dictionary, the adjective multicultural means ‘relating to or containing several cultural or ethnic groups within a society’.
Thus, I take that multiculturalism to mean, ‘Don’t be racist and try to appreciate what people from different backgrounds have to offer. You’ll really enjoy expanding your palate’.
5. Predictably, Donnelly also hates the scourge that is feminism. He explains, “One of the most damaging aspects of the feminist agenda is the assumption that equality means sameness. Not only do girls, to succeed, need to become more like boys, but boys, so they are told, need to be more in touch with their feminine side.”
Girls being encouraged to speak out and assert themselves occasionally. Boys being encouraged to talk about their emotions – and feel okay displaying that emotion.
WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?
6. “The [Australian Education Union] argues that gays, lesbians and transgender individuals have a right to teach sex education … and that any treatment of sexual matters should be ‘positive in its approach’ and that school curricula should ‘enhance understanding and acceptance of gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender people’. Forgotten is that many parents would consider the sexual practices of gays, lesbians and transgender individuals decidedly unnatural and that such groups have a greater risk in terms of transmitting STDs and AIDS.”
I don’t think the bigotry evident in this statement even needs explaining.
But don’t worry about the fact that this man is now reviewing our national curriculum, you guys. The curriculum that will educate our children and shape the adults they become. Because Mr Pyne has “specifically asked” Donnelly to use a “balanced approach”.
I feel a whole lot better now.
If you would like to express your view about Kevin Donnelly being appointed to review the national school curriculum, you can email Education Minister Christopher Pyne at [email protected]
What do you think about Kevin Donnelly being appointed to review the national school curriculum?
You can follow Melissa Wellham on Twitter at @melissawellham.