Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Will the new Australian national science curriculum teach Aboriginal creationism?

There have been some murmurings around the internet that the new National Australian curriculum, which was unveiled on Monday, will have a strong aboriginal culture theme imprinted into the science curriculum. In his generally positive take on the curriculum as a whole, Sydney Morning Herald blogger Tim Hawkes says:

Somewhat less defensible, in my view, is the inclusion of indigenous understandings of the natural environment in science. Although fascinating, I think this topic is better dealt with in an area other than science which, quite properly, should be dominated by the skills of empirical observation and measurement.

So what does the curriculum actually say? This is not a particularly easy question to answer. The new curriculum information is hosted at
Some government websites here are quite well designed. Immigration and weather are particularly good. This one is a nightmare. The details to which I am assuming Mr. Hawkes refers are accessible via the following:
1. Register with the website.
2. click the explore tab
3. click the science curriculum
4. under the default settings, “Science as a Human Endeavour” should be the middle column. In years one through ten (but not kindergarden), this will contain several one-sentence sub-sections, one of which is “Science and culture”
5. click the green feedback button.
6. in the pop-up that appears, click the “content elaboration” tab.

The text that appears cannot be cut and pasted, and is not googlable. If there is a less convoluted way of finding it, I don’t know it. So I have had to resort to screen-capturing all 10 science and culture content elaborations. Where scrolling was necessary, screen captures have been stitched. Otherwise, this information has been in no way edited. I apologize if the text is too small to read without clicking through to the full-sized image. If that is not legible either, say so and I'll type transcripts if I ever get the time.

So, gentle readers, are the following appropriate for a science classroom? Discuss in comments.

Creative common licence and distribution restrictions can be found here. As far as I know, I comply.

1 comment:

ac said...

Some of the questions seem pretty cool: indigenous seasonal cycles and the mechanics of boomerangs stand out. Anything cool in primary school science is good.

Seems that this is but a sub-section of a sub-section, and can't reasonably be said to dominate the rest of the curriculum.

The achievement standards for each level seem to have a focus on prediction, observation and modelling.

Storm in a teacup.