One of the few institutions of the colonial era that did address a social problem prevalent of the day was Point Puer, at Port Arthur Penal Prison. Young boys and men were seen to be in an insidious position when they arrived into the colony as convicts. Some as young as 9yrs old were exposed to the worst of social constructs, abuse and ill-use as convicts, this particularly in the penal settlement of Hobart Town where the majority of convicts were first sent. This problem of unassigned boys and how to deal with them was considerable .
Unlike the young girls who were quickly assigned for reasons addressed previously, as well as being placed into service as domestic servants, the boys were unwelcome and viewed as a drain on the penal system and so Point Puer was developed. It was no holiday for the young boys and young men but it was a improved arrangement which often gave them skills and training they badly needed. Some of these skills were of course questionable as can be seen in the wake of the bushranging era of the mid-late colonial era… many of these bushrangers were early inmates of Point Puer.
Learning about Colonial Aus. is a passion of mine, as many of my readers know. Discovering Mark Twain’s travelogues was truly a delight … how ignorant of me not to know of his writings about Australia at the turn of the century!
Ignorance is bliss is it not? We often read the most contemporary of works instead of those older texts, the classics and the hidden gems to be found in the Trove and the newssheets of yesteryear and on dusty shelves of a library. I have always enjoyed delving into the peoples history of yesteryear in old newssheets, but there is never enough time to read all that I would so enjoy to venture into. Mark Twain was an author such as I had not fully explored. I guess him being a Yank (seppo’ in colloquial terms) had something to do with this, I of course had read Huckleberry Finn and others but I had enough trouble with time in exploring our Aussie writers … so much to read, so little time.
What Mark Twain was referring to in the quoted text is the lies and misinformation Australians are fed even back as far as our Federation in 1901.
I have just read a most amazing book ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ by Timothy Bottoms, a deeply researched account of Colonial Australia and events, which are largely hidden in our history. A very difficult book to read through it is none the less one of the most important collection of colonial accounts, which has ever graced my research shelves.
It raises many issues and helps to settle many questions of a past in colonial Australia, which has been hidden in hypocrisy, deceit and shame. Australia’s colonial history is my history. It is a history that is largely if not completely ignored in the education of our kids. Our schools teach what is a English history to Aussie kids and in doing so completely ignore our social and cultural diversity and it can be argued that this gives rise to racial dissention within our society today. Our current education in history is failing to give our kids an understanding about their truly diverse heritage in pretending we are all of English descent which is simply not true. We aren’t even English by majority!
It 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.
I 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.
Our 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.