The Links Between Education and Racism

educIt is no wonder to me that our kids do not know our own history in Aus. I have spent the last few days examining just what our vegemiters are taught of our national history at school and further down is a breakdown in case you yourself are wondering. The data presented here is collected from Queensland but can be applied as an example across our country.

It is little wonder to me that we are now dealing with endemic racism and gross misunderstanding and ignorance about who we are and how we got here. Most believe we were English crim’s who having arrived in a convict boat with a couple of the landed gentry, hopped off in old Sydney town to a land full of roos, sheep and ockerisms to be greeted by Aboriginal savages and there we started the fighting. This is a load of crock! Having received such a strong response to my recent post Just Who are Aussies I have consistently heard of how history as a subject is failing to inform Australians about ourselves, and our national heritage and history.

boat peopleI sincerely believe that if we were taught something of our rich and varied experience as a colony and a nation, we would not be dealing with the racial dissention we are now seeing, this about WHO Australians are and just where we each belong in our world.

The RACISM I see everywhere, sticking its head up like a ferret out of a nest to be shot at by others is truly disturbing. We need to understand WHO we are and how we got here to truly appreciate our diversity with due respect.

ferretOur kids spend a small part of Year 5 learning about our Colonial History, that which forms the basis for our self-awareness as a nation and valued individuals and I sincerely think that this is grossly inadequate. While the topics relevant to our self-awareness are so blatantly absent from the curriculum, or are barely mentioned if addressed at all, our children will lack in self-awareness and due respect in their varied heritages.

Much of the subject matter is essential for our understanding of our social diversity, it is also unsuited to Year 5 which is when Aussie colonial history is now taught. These kids at this young age are not capable of understanding the often disturbing nature of our heritage and the role of the authority of the day in our development as a penal colony which moved proudly into Nationhood. The subjects are more suited to year 7 at the earliest in my opinion. That most of the following historical realities are not taught at all is a travesty of honesty and integrity as well as a hideous omission in regards to our historic account.

I do not pretend that this list has no omission’s however my understanding of Australian Colonial history reflects my interests and this list is constructed as a guide to development.

The following points are in general omitted from the history which is taught in our schools  yet many if not most of these topics are essential to our understanding of who we are.

  • The history of maritime incursion. Discovery, whaling, sealing, pearling, trepang, timber.
  • The Convict Era – Pro’s & Con’s of the system and its legacies.
    • Impact of the early Colony on the Indigenous population – Disease, land acquisition.
      • Life of the Convict and the varying systems that were introduced to manage and control felons and ticket-of-leave or free convicts.
      • The need for the ‘Women’s Factories’ and their effects on the colony
      • The development of the early penal outposts – Sydney, Newcastle, Hobart, Brisbane etc.
    • Aboriginal role in the early Colony – resistance and co-operation
    • Impact of the spread of the Settlers and Colonial outposts on the indigenous population.
    • The interaction between the convicts, settlers and the Aboriginal people – similarities and relationships in a changing demographic. The emergence of the cultural changes for the Aboriginal people and the impacts, positive and negative.
    • An emerging demographic group – the intercultural children and adults and their impact on the emerging colony.
  • The different Policing methods used within the Colony.
    • The lack of currency and its impacts.
    • The Rum Corps
    • The Scottish & Irish Influence and its consequence
    • Enlistment of ex-convicts as gaolers/police and the reaction of the colony
    • Van Diemans Land – Port Arthur, Norfolk Is. and other major penal stations
    • The Boys reformatory in Point Puer – its unique development in answer to a need.
    • The Native Police Force and their role in colonization.
  • The Timber getters and the relevance of Aust. Timbers across the world and in colonization
  • The history of the formation of the States and Territories.
  • The Settlers and Land holders – tenets of possession and occupation of land
    • Development of Independent Settlements: Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth etc.
  • The Afghans and Cameleers – their role in the early colony.
  • Development of the Aboriginal Missions & Religious Missions – The Aboriginal Protection Act/Board and why it existed 1869.
  • Era of Gold exploration and discovery– the events of the Chinese riots and the emigrations of the prospectors and their colonial migrations.
    • Impact of Gold discoveries on the colony: Townsville, Cairns, Ballarat etc.
    • The Eureka Stockade – the mining lisencing system and structure and its effect on the populations of the colonies.
    • Lambing Flats riots etc. – History of the Asian presence in Australia
  • The Era of the Bushrangers – Who were they? Why did they exist?
  • The Era of Emigrations – the emigration ships and the bounty systems
    • The Governments role in colonization
    • The Churches role in colonization
    • The Private Sector or settlers role in colonization
  • The flow of colonization across the land and varying attitudes amongst groups. The Sterling group, the Currency group, the Settler & Homesteaders, the Land Baron’s & Dynasties.
  • The Explorers – Who were they and why did they bother?
    • How were they funded?
    • Who were Government sanctioned and who were privately funded and why.
  • The First Australians or the Indigenous Population – Policies and Methods used to control the populations. The role of the Native Police Force and its structure and practices.
  • The introduction of contracted and slave labour to replace convict labour. Blackbirding & Indentures of emigrants.
  • The Era of ‘The Commonwealth’ & The Constitution
    • The White Australia Policy and its effects on the Australian Population sectors
    • The Assimilation Policy and its effects on the Australian Population sectors
  • The Outer Colonies
    • New Zealand and its relationship to Australia
    • New Guinea and its relationship to Australia
    • The Islands and their roles –  Pinch-gut, Van Diemens Land (Tas), Norfolk, Cook, Torres Strait, Maria, Rottnest etc.

If this lack in our Education System disturbs you please act. Feel free to copy and past this post or mention the web address to the relevant party.

Send an email to The Federal Minister for Education :

Minister for Education
(Leader of the House)
The Hon Christopher Pyne MP

Assistant Minister for Education
The Hon Sussan Ley MP

Send an  email to the State Minister for Education QLD :

John-Paul Langbroek MP

 So what IS taught in our schools? The following information was drawn from the Web at

Qld Curriculum Prep to Y10 – History – A sample of what our Kids are taught


Year 4 Level Description

First Contacts

The Year 4 curriculum introduces world history and the movement of peoples. Beginning with the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, students examine European exploration and colonisation in Australia and throughout the world up to the early 1800s. Students examine the impact of exploration on other societies, how these societies interacted with newcomers, and how these experiences contributed to their cultural diversity.


Year 5 Level Description

The Australian Colonies

The Year 5 curriculum provides a study of colonial Australia in the 1800s. Students look at the founding of British colonies and the development of a colony. They learn about what life was like for different groups of people in the colonial period. They examine significant events and people, political and economic developments, social structures, and settlement patterns.

Year 5 Achievement Standard

By the end of Year 5, students identify the causes and effects of change on particular communities, and describe aspects of the past that remained the same. They describe the different experiences of people in the past. They describe the significance of people and events in bringing about change.

Students sequence events and people (their lifetime) in chronological order, using timelines. When researching, students develop questions to frame an historical inquiry. They identify a range of sources and locate and record information related to this inquiry. They examine sources to identify points of view. Students develop, organise and present their texts, particularly narratives and descriptions, using historical terms and concepts.


Year 6 Level Description

Australia as a nation

The Year 6 curriculum moves from colonial Australia to the development of Australia as a nation, particularly after 1900. Students explore the factors that led to Federation and experiences of democracy and citizenship over time. Students understand the significance of Australia’s British heritage, the Westminster system, and other models that influenced the development of Australia’s system of government. Students learn about the way of life of people who migrated to Australia and their contributions to Australia’s economic and social development.


Year 7 Level Description

The Ancient World

The Year 7 curriculum provides a study of history from the time of the earliest human communities to the end of the ancient period, approximately 60 000 BC (BCE) – c.650 AD (CE). It was a period defined by the development of cultural practices and organised societies. The study of the ancient world includes the discoveries (the remains of the past and what we know) and the mysteries (what we do not know) about this period of history, in a range of societies including Australia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and India.

Year 8 Level Description

The Ancient to the Modern World

The Year 8 curriculum provides study of history from the end of the ancient period to the beginning of the modern period, c.650 AD (CE) – 1750. This was when major civilisations around the world came into contact with each other. Social, economic, religious, and political beliefs were often challenged and significantly changed. It was the period when the modern world began to take shape.

Year 9 Level Description

The Making of the Modern World

The Year 9 curriculum provides a study of the history of the making of the modern world from 1750 to 1918. It was a period of industrialisation and rapid change in the ways people lived, worked and thought. It was an era of nationalism and imperialism, and the colonisation of Australia was part of the expansion of European power. The period culminated in World War I 1914-1918, the ‘war to end all wars’.

Year 10 Content Descriptions

Historical Knowledge and Understanding


 The following content is taught as part of an overview for the historical period. It is not intended to be taught in depth. An overview will constitute approximately 10% of the total teaching time for the year. 

 Overview content identifies important features of the period (1918 to the present) as part of an expansive chronology that helps students understand broad patterns of historical change. As such, the overview provides the broader context for the teaching of depth study content and can be built into various parts of a teaching and learning program. This means that overview content can be used to give students an introduction to the historical period; to make the links to and between the depth studies, and to consolidate understanding through a review of the period.

It would appear that our Social Colonial History is not addressed beyond the Junior and Primary level.


12 thoughts on “The Links Between Education and Racism

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  8. I remember, after I was out of school, reading and learning for my own enjoyment, just exactly what I missed out on in education.

    What I learned out of school, essentially, “blew my mind”.

    Reading John Birmingham’s Leviathan (An Unathorised biography of Sydney.) contained so much history and so many stories that I didn’t have any clue about. Other sources of knowledge have come into my mind, and it seems as if the education system, in regards to history, is incredibly inept.

    It’s almost “unAustralian” to know the history of this nation.

    Geographically, Australia is a “frontier country” of western civilisation. Our land is so far removed from western civilisation that it’s odd to think of Australia as a western country. Thinking about that, that doesn’t have much to do with the point of this.

    When I was in Europe, I felt embarrassed by my ignorance. I remember speaking to people from all over the world who spoke about the history of their lands and of the world, and I realised how little I knew. I thought I was far from ignorant, but speaking to others made me realise how little information I had. Unlike me, most people won’t go and shove their head into book to gain knowledge to lead them away from ignorance and a lack of information, so the average person really does need a schooling curriculum that gives information.

    Thinking back, perhaps I was only taught, in a way, propaganda. But, my high school didn’t care much for history, as it had a PE teacher teaching history, who had zero knowledge on much to do with the subject. Other history teachers I had weren’t that great either, as they spread the rumours and myths of Ancient Greece and Rome rather than actual facts.

    • This is so sadly true. I learnt most of my history after I left my educ. school years behind and even now I am constantly surprised at what I don’t know about ourselves. It is a wonderful history, complex, diverse and intensely interesting and yet largely ignored when educating our kids.
      We really need to do something about this omission!
      Thanks for your input.

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