Teaching the History of Nothing

dunce cornerThe History Curriculum has attracted a great deal of controversy since its inception in 2013. Former Prime Minister John Howard addressed his concerns with the scope of the curriculum in Quadrant. Kevin Donnelly and Mervyn Bendle have done the same. Nonetheless, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has trundled along, barely missing a step, despite an inquiry launched by the Abbott government, forging a national curriculum largely informed by the Melbourne Declaration of 2008.

This paper will deal solely with History, and how ACARA’s curriculum has contributed to what is, in my view, a corruption of the discipline in schools. Many of the problems in the History Curriculum are to be found elsewhere; the interested reader will find plentiful examples in the English Curriculum, for instance.

This lament for the state of education in modern Australia appears
in the April edition of Quadrant, now on sale.

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I will look at two things. Largely, I will look at how we teach history at present. What we teach has been covered extensively elsewhere, so I will spend only a little time on it.

How we teach history

“We are not concerned about the narrative of events, or the retelling of history,” I have heard so many times I have lost count, “we are interested in skills.”

Thus, history teaching is not about content—a dirty word among the ACARA curriculum gurus—but is instead about skills. What good is knowledge to students? Who cares if they can recount the events of 1066, or the fall of the Roman Republic, or the Pacific Campaign? What relevance will it have to their daily lives, to their future role in the workforce? But skills: now, there’s a word we can get behind. Everybody likes skills. What could be of better utility?

We have become, even among our educated classes, a post-learning society. Ostensibly, the internet has been the vehicle of this shift in consciousness; with information on anything easily obtained, we have no need to carry it about in our own skulls any longer. Of course, information is not the same as knowledge, and without knowledge, wisdom is difficult to obtain. Sending unformed young minds to the internet for knowledge is like sending them to a sewer for fresh water. I am no longer startled by the abject lack of general knowledge among everybody under the age of fifty. Once, we might have said they knew a lot about a little, or a little about a lot; now it seems they know very little about very little. ACARA’s unwieldly response to this shift is to turn learning history into the learning of abstract skills, transferable everywhere—the best response to the interconnected world. It is, in essence, to swallow more of the same poison. The antidote is rigour, but rigour won’t be found in the utilitarian and progressive model of teaching.

This utilitarian approach to education has difficulties when it is applied outside of vocational studies. Many find it difficult to convince some students that they should care about the past, especially when they are at the age when the present is trouble enough. The answer from the teaching profession has been the promotion of relevance: that we should teach to the student’s present position, rather than expect any mental elevation. This is an obvious poisoned chalice. Once we tell a student that his immediate experience is sufficient, it is hard to persuade him to step outside of it, particularly when that might require effort. In effect, we decide to leave them in their “mind-forg’d manacles”, the very opposite of what a decent education is supposed to achieve. In order to understand the shift in history teaching—from content knowledge to abstract skills—we must realise that this is the shift that happened first. We decided that all teaching should be utilitarian, and that we should focus on imparting skills that can be picked up and carried about like a toolbox, useful in any walk of life.

Broadly, the Australian Curriculum emphasises several skills in history. First, students should demonstrate an understanding of chronology. Second, they should be able to form an inquiry question: that is, a first-principle question about something historical that they choose to then investigate. Third, they should be able to use primary and secondary sources effectively, know the difference between them, and ascertain their usefulness. Fourth, they should understand different perspectives on historical events. Finally, they can produce some body of work that uses evidence, and references the sources they have used.

What is more informative is what is absent. There is no expectation that students should learn and analyse any given historical event; everything is an abstraction, disconnected from time and place. Thus, a teacher might formulate a term of work on Ancient Rome for Year 7 as follows: first, a timeline exercise, with dates sticky-taped to a string; then, looking at ancient busts or photographs of buildings or sentences taken, with no context, from Livy or Plutarch; then, asking for a creative response written from the perspective of, say, a Roman slave, with plenty of twenty-first-century moral injunctions inserted; and last, some sort of report which, inevitably, is constructed largely from Wikipedia. The student leaves the class knowing very little, but the teacher can happily tick the boxes presented in the paragraph above.

Now, I am not denigrating these skills: but they should be an organic outgrowth of accumulated historical knowledge, taught and learned sincerely. They are not something to be learned in isolation. I am against the teaching of skills at the expense of period knowledge; students will accumulate little knowledge, and learn few skills. What’s worse, they will not like history. It will become to them as the jack-of-all-trades Study of Society and the Environment was for many students in the 1990s and 2000s.

I frequently leave the reservation when teaching history, and focus on the knowledge and the content: I will use the example of an elective unit of Year 9 and 10 History I have taught before. Students should be able to recount to me why the French Revolution happened. They can talk about the monarchy, the philosophes, the middle classes, and the Catholic Church. I hope they can explain why they think the Jacobins took the road they did, and understand why Napoleon seems almost an inevitability in hindsight. Maybe, they can draw some broad conclusions about utopian political ideologies, as well as inflexible arcane systems that become unreformable, and the attraction of the guillotine. They will have read the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Some may favour Thomas Paine’s view; others, that of Edmund Burke. At the end, they will write an essay, by hand, on some question pertinent to the period; they will include dates. By the time the term is out, their brains should be hot from the effort, and they should be able to talk with some understanding about events far away and long ago. More than that, they will have gained an insight to some of the perpetual questions of human nature, and they may find themselves surprised by nothing in contemporary life. In other words, knowledge and skills are not mutually exclusive—in fact, they should be inseparable, if a teacher knows his craft. The curriculum they learn is bigger than ACARA’s imaginings; it is the curriculum that every serious humanities teacher, since the Greeks, has tried to impart. It has the stamp of something mysterious and eternal about it, which transcends the fumbling of bureaucracy and the vanities of the present moment. It is this sort of teaching that the present curriculum does its best to drown.

The learning of historical skills as a separate endeavour to knowledge seems fraught to me. Some teachers have described the “content” as a Trojan horse, through which the “skills” are smuggled into the unsuspecting student’s mind. These are the types who obsess over timelines and watch Disney movies to hone “critical thinking” and spend hours picking over a picture of an aqueduct as a source analysis. This is boring, and the students, who may have thought they were going to learn something worthy of their time, soon lose interest. The teacher, instead of reading a book and learning a little more about the Vikings, spends more time on abstractions that require no real rigour. What was the role of women in Viking society compared to modern Australia? Write a newspaper article as if you are interviewing a Viking who has travelled through time to today. Create a paper mache axe. And so on. The obsession with skills, at the expense of knowledge, begins a downward spiral of intellectual simplicity that ends with students colouring in pictures as the term drags to a sullen close.

I attended an ACARA session and spoke with one of the framers of the Australian History Curriculum. I brought up the tension between skills and knowledge. She answered that, with the right set of skills, a student could study the rise of the Nazis and apply that set of skills to any period. In other words, one could take a cursory look at the Nazis, and understand the Peloponnesian War. This is manifestly untrue: they may have a better idea what to look for, but to ignore the knowledge of the period as some sort of gaudy distraction seems to me a bizarre approach to learning history.

History is not like engineering: you do not build a vague pro forma of skills, a stencil that you can pick up and apply to any problem with equal success. You need knowledge: of specific events, specific individuals, specific social forces, specific institutions, specific wars and battles, specific political movements, specific kings and specific queens—you must reach towards a thousand variables. Once, this was so obvious it barely needed stating: now, stating it risks pariah status. One must wonder how this has happened.

Part of it lies in capacity: the proper learning of history is time-consuming, and requires focus and diligence. Many universities have largely given up on the teaching of content, and assume a great deal of prior knowledge that students, emerging from the sort of classes I have described above, utterly lack. There, they pump them full of primary sources without context and try to turn them into historians—masters of abstract reasoning, acting always from a priori first principles, deploying deconstructionist strategies to seek out bias and author intent, making no effort to truly understand the times—just as the history teacher they had in high school justified teaching history so that they might one day read a mortgage contract with alacrity and understanding.

At worst, history becomes weaponised into the study of theory, of post-colonialism and post-modernism and queer theory and the works of the post-structuralists, to advocate for social change, rather than a proper objective examination of the past with knowledge and wisdom as the prize. Thus, many who emerge with a Bachelor of Arts degree rightly earn the poor reputation that degree now confers. They come out knowing nothing, and many plunge into the schools, this time as teachers, to pass on nothing. It is a depressing sort of carousel. The implosion of higher education in the humanities and social sciences presently under way in North America should come as no surprise to those who have passed through such halls, though this is beyond the scope of this article.


What we teach

Of course, the framers of ACARA’s History Curriculum do not really believe their own rhetoric. They know how important content knowledge is, and they betray this in their careful control over what events and periods are studied in secondary school. For instance, in Year 10, students will study the Second World War and the Holocaust, and then move directly into a unit called “Rights and Freedoms”, which examines indigenous struggles during the 1960s among other civil rights movements. This confluence is entirely deliberate. These units are not placed next to one another by mistake, and the conclusion students are invited to draw is obvious. The next “Depth Study” is up to the teacher: either Popular Culture, Migration Experiences, or the Environmental Movement. Students will end up studying Madonna and Kylie Minogue, or boat people and asylum seekers, or hippie activists and climate change. It is hard to understand how ACARA decided these were the signature issues of the second half of the twentieth century. Of notable absence is the Cold War—mentioned only as part of an already crowded “overview study” designed to take up not more than 10 per cent of teaching time. Students may leave secondary school knowing nothing about the Soviet Union, Maoist China, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Nazism—rightly—is condemned, yet communism gets a free pass.

Missing is the entirety of early modern European history, and the growth of the institutions that made the present moment possible. When Europe is taught at all, it is in the context of colonialism, imperialism and bloody-minded conquest: the First World War is taught as the inevitable outgrowth of nationalism, without mention of the collapse of the statesmanship that had kept Europe largely peaceable for a century. Polynesia, Japan and China are taught in tokenistic fashion and, though interesting in their own right, one must wonder at the opportunity cost. The Western historical narrative has been cast into the rubbish bin of history. Ranke’s methodology, which in my view provided the best framework for understanding the past, has been utterly disposed of, with the exception of his interest in sources, which has been retained as the sole objective element in modern history teaching. Everything else has been subverted beneath theory. We are all critical theorists now.

Of note are the “cross-curricular priorities” that are inserted into every course. These are ideological in the extreme: one is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Histories, another is Australia’s Asian Engagement, and the third is Sustainability. When I learned how we hoped to enmesh these into every element of the curriculum, I was reminded of the Soviet Union’s attempt to politicise the entirety of their schooling in 1923. Traditional disciplines were abolished, and replaced by thematic studies on the notion of social organisation of labour, and other Marxist tropes. Even the Soviets were quick to realise how ineffective this model proved, and it was scrapped in 1928. But to expect the framers of our present curriculum to understand this is to expect them to understand history—the very thing they work so hard to prevent.

Why should we care? Because an open society depends on a populace that has some understanding of its collective inheritance. Once robbed of this, the Year Zero types can steer the ship in whatever direction they please. In an age of identity politics, populist politicians and societal threats we appear unable to discuss let alone confront, an informed population is critical. The younger generation understand this, almost instinctively. There is a hunger for solid food that goes unsatisfied by the milk they are so often served. If society is a compact between the dead, the living, and those yet to come, we must honour this and teach the past forthrightly. If not, they will go to the sewer for fresh water, and we should not be surprised at the consequences.

Finally, a humanities education aims to produce a weltanschauung that can resist the slings and arrows of life, that grasps the tragic nature of the world, and ultimately produces better individuals. Our past does not exist purely to justify our present preoccupations. It must be learned for its own sake, and a study of history, properly accomplished, is a moral mission as much as a mental one. As Cicero posited, “to remain ignorant of history is to remain forever a child”, and wilful ignorance, inflicted or embraced, is no conduit to moral accomplishment.

Mark Evans is a secondary school teacher.


* * *


Here are two examples used to teach history to Year 7 students in the ACT high school system.


Ancient Rome Test: Roman Education


During the early years of the Roman Republic, all children were taught at home. Boys were taught to be brave and honourable, and perhaps a craft such as metal work. Girls were taught spinning and weaving and how to look after the household. From about 200 BC, families who could afford it could send their children to small schools. Children learned how to read, write and use Roman numerals. Their textbooks were scrolled parchments and their writing pads, waxed boards. They used pebbles to calculate sums and a stylus to write.

Using the information above, and your own knowledge, write a paragraph (minimum of 4 sentences) describing the difference between ancient Roman education and modern Australian education.


Gender Roles in Ancient China

1. In Mulan’s community, how are women expected to behave? List the skills and characteristics of an ideal woman in ancient China, according to the movie. Discuss as a class.

2. In Mulan’s community, how are men expected to behave? Make a list similar to that in the previous question. Discuss as a class.

3. Are these expectations similar for women and men in your community? What is similar and what is different? Discuss as a class.

4. Do you think these expectations are fair? Should men and women be treated the same, or is it good to treat them differently in some ways? Discuss as a class.

40 thoughts on “Teaching the History of Nothing

  • Jody says:

    It seems the writer of this essay, like myself, earned a useful arts degree. It provided the opportunity for him to think and write, which sadly few can do these days. This is what Jordan Peterson says about it (from 50 seconds): dummies need not apply.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Jody often confirms the uselessness of a modern arts degree.

    While the article treats the subject with a great deal of detailed example and itemised aberration overall I think what the author misses is result of teaching the way we currently do at all levels.

    In my dealings with young people, which are local, varied and deep, I be found youngsters these day, due to their teachers, equate error with failure.

    Thus leads to many things.
    The inability to learn from error.
    The propensity to blame.
    The inability to accept mistakes.
    Bullying and other Dysfunctional behaviours.
    Stress and anger when realising but refusing to accept their own imperfection.
    Increasing youth suicide rates.

    Teachers are stupid.

    • Jody says:

      This merely reflects your own insecurity about not having a degree; that and the usual psychological projections. It doesn’t mean people without a degree aren’t capable of wonderful things; clearly they are. Then there is the self-educated like Philip Adams. Much as I dislike him intensely he is a working example of the self-educated and somebody who is committed to life-long learning – which, sadly, a great number of university graduates are not.

      You obviously didn’t listen to what Jordan Peterson says about writing and thinking. Why would you when you’re so ultra defensive about it.

      Those things you mention about youth suicide rates have EVERYTHING to do with permissive and helicopter parenting, lack of resilience and dysfunctional parenting. Nothing to do with school. And if you THINK it has something to do with school then you’re a hypocrite expecting school teachers to increase the demand for rigour and do less ‘welfare’ work (which is what I long advocated).

      I’ve made money and I have an interior life – that latter, and access to the greatest cultural figures in music and literature – has given me a quality of life no money could actually buy. So, a double whammy.

      • Keith Kennelly says:


        My learning was the guided reading of the great works.
        The Classis,Philosophers, Theologians,Thinkers, Writers Poets and Academics, from the West.
        I’ve also read much on other subjects.
        I’ve read the Russian Classics, a few writers from my he Mid East, and Asia.
        I’ve also read most of the truely ancient literature dating back to 2350BC
        I’ve also read the prominent Americans.
        Most people with degrees, not just Arts Degrees, have difficulty matching my intellect.

        This is my education. It has taught me to think. Now why would I need a degree?

        And to read your self justifications, and boasting about your work record, minor life achievements and interests shows just who is insecure.

        I’m sufficiently confident and sure of what I’ve done and my interests, not to have to talk about them.

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          And finally Jody I’m very proud of these two facts; I never ever needed a degree to earn an income and none of my income has come from other people’s taxes.

          Now if you want to continue with your stupid denigrations, please continue, but realise your shortcomings and arrogance.

          • Jody says:

            If you didn’t need something why do you go on and on and on and on about it? That tells us all we need to know. Psych 101.

          • lloveday says:

            Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg …. never obtained a degree (other than, like fellow educational dropout Keating, an honourary one) let alone “needed a degree to earn an income“, accumulate incredible wealth, have an enormous impact on the lives of billions of humans and become well known throughout the world, but I’ve never read of them making a mention, let alone a big deal, let alone being very proud of the fact.
            Why would that be? Illocutionary question only!

          • Keith Kennelly says:

            Because Jody it stands in stack contrast to you and I know it gets up your nose.

          • Jacob Jonker says:

            Psych 101, no less. One thing is certain; someone up here in this thread will get an almighty wake-up call one day, and it ain’t Keith.

  • brennan1950 says:

    Harold McMillan was asked once what determines foreign policy. His reply, “Events dear boy, events”.

  • ianl says:

    From the essay:

    > “History is not like engineering: you do not build a vague pro forma of skills, a stencil that you can pick up and apply to any problem with equal success. You need knowledge: of specific events, specific individuals, specific social forces, specific institutions, specific wars and battles, specific political movements, specific kings and specific queens—you must reach towards a thousand variables. Once, this was so obvious it barely needed stating: now, stating it risks pariah status. One must wonder how this has happened.”

    … sigh. The Yarts do that time and again – misrepresent STEM (either through ignorance or malice) then beat up their own straw man, pretending to a deeper, wiser understanding.

    The answer to the question framed in the last sentence is contained in the misrepresentation outlined in the first sentence.

  • Wayne Cooper says:

    Love this question: “4. Do you think these expectations are fair? Should men and women be treated the same, or is it good to treat them differently in some ways? Discuss as a class.”

    I imagine a linguist setting an examination in either Latin or Greek asking this: “There being no ablative in Greek, do you believe it was fair to impose on the Greek genitive all the duties performed by the ablative in Latin? Please cite examples from your own experience.”

    At a school reunion I ran into a former classmate who is now a Head Teacher in History at a NSW High School. While lamenting the awful education my daughter received in Ancient History, I referred to the Punic Wars. My former classmate pleaded ignorance, on the basis that she only teaches Modern History and had never heard of Scipio Africanus, etc. She also denied any knowledge of the Peloponnesian War. When I also complained that my daughter had been given such a wretched schooling in “modern history” that she had no idea about the English Civil Wars, the Regicides, the Restoration or any other 17th century events, I was informed that these, too, precede “modern history” and that my Head Teacher former classmate had no more idea about those events than she had about the Punic or Peloponnesian Wars.

    What is particularly disturbing to me about this is that my former classmate, the Head Teacher in History, has shown no curiosity herself and seen no need to inform herself of any historical events that she does not have to teach to children. She is not stupid, and came about third or fourth in the class in history at our school, but obviously has no great love of the subject for its own sake. And this is the Head Teacher. I can only imagine what the rest of them are like.

    • Jody says:

      I’ve been to English seminars run by the ETA in NSW and been absolutely flabbergasted by the standard of teachers – the majority of them in private schools. Back at the local school – not so much. One teacher reading the paper and giving the kids the wrong text for the HSC (find out on HSC Day 1) and NEVER BEING CONSIDERED FOR SACKING. It’s not just teaching but the public service generally. My son’s ex-wife works for the State government with a woman who has to have a weekly ‘meeting’ with superiors so that she can remain up to task and keep her job.

  • Jody says:

    And I taught “Rabbit Proof Fence” for Year 12 Area of Study to kids who only knew aboriginal history. “You have been propagandized by this highly political film through the technical choices made by the director”. Discuss as a class.

  • lloveday says:

    Quote: Of note are the “cross-curricular priorities” that are inserted into every course. These are ideological in the extreme: one is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Histories….

    At a Parent-Teacher night, I asked my daughter’s year 12 math teacher how he would address the part of the curriculum for the Linear Programming module requiring students to relate Linear Programming to Aboriginal culture; he just looked at me with the contemporary look of a smart young man who knows it’s BS (and knew I also knew it was BS and was just stirring), but is powerless to oppose the bureaucracy. God knows how he was expected to relate complex mathematical procedures to a culture that did not even develop or adopt simple arithmetic, but I do know he did not bother addressing it – he had enough useful potentially useful things to teach.

  • lloveday says:

    Yesterday my daughter received her Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion) from Flinders University, the getting of which has left her with a $40k HECS debt – I’d told her I’d help out with fees for a rigorous course, but not a Mickey Mouse one.
    The HECS debt includes the cost of a holiday, oops, Field Trip, to Hong Kong to “study” fashion there – I found out about it when she texted me asking whether she’d been to Macau before as it looked familiar; I guess they were researching fashions in the casinos.
    Even in that course she could not escape PC – in a Communications module, one assignment was to write how they could consider the environment when designing fashion (I suggested designing clothes made from Koala fur to stop the denuding of gums and thereby help the sequestration and storage of atmospheric carbon in above-ground and below-ground biomass – she though that was a terrible idea); another on how they could consider Aboriginal culture in fashion design (I informed her that before English settlement, Aborigines, depending on where they lived, may have gone naked, or worn lap/laps or cloaks made from possum/wallaby/kangaroo skin, so she could suggest using skins from those animals as a basis for design).
    Not enough BS? The assignments were group efforts where she and another girl did almost all the work and the others contributed nothing, or nothing of use – she texted me about one “It was mostly me and another girl who wrote it in a day. I think I may have been able to get a distinction, I would say I had the most input into the assignment”.

    • Jody says:

      Dear me, I’ve heard that story plenty of times before about ‘group work’ – both as a teacher in highschool and as a parent of university students. One of my daughter’s tutorial buddies in History became my student teacher at school, co-incidentally. She said my surname over and over and then said, “I wondered where I’d heard that name before” and then she mentioned my daughter’s first name. “Yes, she wouldn’t co-operate with the group saying she wasn’t going to regurgitate marxist rubbish for any university tutor”. I smiled, realizing that not all I’d done as a parent was a complete FAIL.

  • Jody says:

    I would have been disruptive enough as a teacher to show something like this to my students, as an active of defiance against the Lefties – had it then been available:

    • Jody says:

      “An act of defiance”. (No edit facility.)

    • lloveday says:

      Reminds me of a comment I read many years ago (I make no comment on the validity at the time, let alone now) “An American sees a new Rolls and says “Boy, that’s what I want to be able to buy” while an Australian sees the same car and key-scratches it“.
      Could be a response to my post of April 12, 2018 at 11:42 am!

      • Jody says:

        My son and daughter-in-law spent time in the USA twice in the last 14 months. Both said Americans are happy to see people affluent and successful and well dressed, always commenting if you look good etc. and very friendly about it. Not so in Australia where envy is the order of the day. They both commented on the stark difference in this country. You’re a champion, Loveday.

  • Jody says:

    One day Keith might be able to write a review like this (me) after reading difficult prose. Not that this would be of value to him when he can shout:

    • Keith Kennelly says:

      Christopher Hitchens

      Christ Jody, he was a half smart socialist who did not allow himself to be influenced by the likes of Hume, Smith, Mises and von Hayak, Barzun, Burnham or Russell and countless other non left writers and thinkers.

      I wonder why you think him important.

      He isn’t significant and as the hero of the current crop of ideologies he’ll fade just like all the others, including Marx and his followers.

      I’ll send you a copy of my first published book.

      It will be out this year.

      It’s about self-reliance.
      It’s easy to read but the subtleties could easily be missed.
      Both the message and the story are powerful.

      Currently I am doing a structural edit

      You might learn from it.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    ‘The Healing Sea’

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    It’s only you who has ever used Capitals on here Jody.

    My voice is soft, persuasive and influences by expressing well considered ideas, without yelling

    • lloveday says:

      Keith Kennelly
      February 2, 2017 at 2:34 pm
      Do you have a memory problem?
      You’ve referred to that HISTORY before.

      Keith Kennelly
      January 22, 2017 at 10:38 pm
      And wasnt Donald Trump PRESIDENTIAL

  • Jody says:

    Loveday, love your work. Keith needs a dose of this to give him a reality check; I’ve just finished watching it and have come away amazed. Yes, it’s nearly 3 hours long but those wonderful, young American students respond so well to Dr. Peterson because he loves young people from his decades inside the academy. These are phenomenally intelligent and he really listens to them – the art of communication. Please watch this, breaking it into manageable chunks, because this great intellectual is changing the cultural landscape day by day. I was moved to tears by the image at 1:55:35

    • lloveday says:

      I’m your Huckleberry” – from one of my ten favourite films, Tombstone, but pronounced “Huckaberry” by Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday.

      Some people, increasingly more because of the standard of literacy education in contemporary Australian schools, misuse “infer” and, or, “imply”, almost always because of a poor knowledge of English rather than a typo.

      For the edification of anyone who does not know, imply and infer are opposites, like a throw and a catch. To imply is to hint at something (the throw), while to infer is to make an educated guess (the catch). The speaker/writer implies, the listener/reader infers.

      Thus, you may have implied something by your post, which could be stated as “Your post implied..“, and a reader may have inferred something from your post, which could be stated as “I inferred from your post..“, but “Your post infers..” can never be correct English; posts don’t make guesses, educated or not. All my drinking mates know that, as you all-but certainly do.

      I don’t nit-pick about typos/minor errors (except on rare occasions when I’m pointing out similar mistakes by someone who has nit-picked another’s comment), such as “an basic understanding” and rats of crap, which pretty well everyone (especially including me!) makes in informal communication but “Your post infers..” indicates, to me, a lack of knowledge as to the correct English usage of imply/infer.

      • Jody says:

        As Professor Peterson says about his rabid critics “the frightened dog barks a lot”.

        Loveday, this is my education and I had to provide it for my own children since the school system did not. I want to be buried with this work as I love it as much as any member of my family – especially its conductor. I just feel sorry for anybody who doesn’t have this in their lives; they’ll never reach that metaphysical plane that Dr. Peterson talks about: it’s EVERYTHING.

        • lloveday says:


          Children don’t always learn what we try to teach them. A close friend, a dunce at school, but a success at earning money and one of the 10 most astute people I know well enough to evaluate, said he could not be taught, but could learn.

          My daughter never saw me not work on any day except Good Friday and Christmas Day; she got a check-out chick job on her 14th birthday (nanny state law – when I was 10 I looked after 3 younger siblings while mother worked night shifts; these days mother would be charged with negligence and we kids taken into state (mis)care) – and has never been out of work.
          Well taught (by example, I never had to encourage her) and well learned.

          Her ex(unfortunately)-boyfriend/fiancé told me she was attracted to her because of her “brutal honesty and ability to articulate a point of view”, adding accurately “I guess she got that from you”. He’s got a Psych degree.
          Well taught and well learned on both counts – she had to recite the 10 commandments every day when with me (40% of the time after the FCA 8-day custody trial) – the 6 “Shall Nots” (non-negotiable), the “Honour..” , then the Deity 3 which I told her she would have to make up her mind about. She used to sit on my lap as a 2yo and write the alphabet characters while her mother watched TV, she got 20/20 for every spelling test when with me, not once when with her mother; we used to read books and in a 5 year period only watched TV twice – Madeline and Carols by Candlelight. In year 3 she had a great teacher who took the kids for 4 laps of the oval every morning followed by a “Tables Knowledge” test where he’d give them sheets of the times tables in “shuffled” order and he’d say “2, go”, and they’d fill in the answers to “3×2= “, 9×2= “, “5×2= “…” and after 60 seconds “Stop” and go on to the 3-times and so on. He then cut the time down for those who were getting them right; at the end of the year my daughter, a Viet girl (at Uni the Viets were the best at math and Viet parents typically value education) and the son of another teacher were on 12 seconds, a few between 12 and 60, and the majority still on 60. Those 3 were not that extremely innately better than the rest, their “superiority” was in good part due to parental involvement. Along the way came THE TEST – I said she could have a mobile phone with a camera, newly on the market, if she got every one right, but she had to nominate the day and only got one chance. We practised every night, she said “Today’s the day”, got them all right, and the other teacher’s son said “I don’t believe it” and demanded to see her sheet (they were marked by other students, not the teacher), which she was delighted to show him.

          When with Mummy Dear, I set her a written assignment every week and she received pocket money based upon her answer – the effect of “Junk, pocket money $0” was amazing. Example of assignment at age 11:

          This week, you are to explain what each word means (either by a brief
          sentence or using a synonym) WITHOUT using a dictionary of any kind.

          If you have no idea, leave it blank, and that will form the basis of
          the second part of the assignment.


          Well taught, and she learned much. Nothing like $$ to get a young girl’s attention!

          I had her using Typing Tutor as a 2yo, and she must be a 100++ word per minute typist – the ex told me he has never seen anyone close to her, nor has my sister; she used to call herself a keyboard warrior, with her typing speed and a razor-sharp brain honed by years of losing debates with me. The ones of those I saw that I liked best were when a schoolmate called her a half-cast in an on-line n-way “punch-up” and she pointed out how hybrids got the best of both parents, whereas in-breeding led to inferior creatures (“like you”); the opponent then threatened to bash her at the bus stop after school – “I may be small, but Papa Bear has taught me how to fight, so make sure you’ve got backup”. I had her on punching bags from a young age (have you ever seen how women instinctively punch?) and advised “If conflict seems inevitable, hit first, hit hard, show no mercy”. Shades of Abbott, she put her fist through a veneer wall in reaction to the ex receiving a text and told me “I should have hit the face”. But I also taught her that the best weapon an unarmed woman has against a man is her mouth, scream, scream, bite, run. Unlike the nonsense she was taught in self-defence at school – she showed me how they taught her to grab a man’s hand (with her two hands, thus unprotected) and twist it back, allegedly immobilising him. I said put as much pressure as you can, notice that I’m not resisting, yes, it’s very painful, but now look at my right fist – can you imagine what would happen if I smashed your unprotected head with it? To teach young girls they can defeat a man is, in my opinion, dangerous; scream, scream, bite, run.
          Very well taught and learned.

          When around 10 she said “You don’t like the government, do you dad?”, and I always encouraged her to engage as little as possible with governments and never become welfare-minded like Mummy Dear.
          Fail, I believe; although she’d never have told me I believe she got Youth Allowance. Bad Fail if so (see rent-free and allowance below).

          Responsibility – for her 18th birthday I bought her a new (used) car, said change the utilities to your name, I got you to adulthood without police problems, drug free, relatively alcohol-free (she was invariably the designated driver), fit and strong, see you, and left Australia. She lived rent-free and I gave her a $300 monthly allowance until 22. She shacked up with another bloke, leaving my house a pig-sty inside (the worst a mate’s wife has ever seen) and a jungle outside.
          MASSIVE FAIL.

          I encouraged her to save “Don’t be a spendthrift like your father”. “But I like the big seats”. Anyway her ex told me he did not know any other 20yo girl that had accumulated $12k in the bank. But she blew $5k on a 21st birthday party.
          Likely pass.

      • Keith Kennelly says:

        Because Jody it stands in stack contrast to you and I know it gets up your nose.

    • lloveday says:
      Not much to “watch” there! But I listened while working. I paid for extra-curricula (after school) flute, piano and drum lessons, but my daughter did not take to any of them. A chip off the old block – I had to be bribed to continue piano lessons despite the teacher saying I was exceptionally good, but my ability, such as it was, was predicated on my being blessed with a good memory and dexterity not on a feeling for music.
      If I listen while working, it’s generally to a medley starting with “Burning Bridges” and continuing with songs of similar genre.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    There you go again Jody

    Your post infers those youngsters are listening because of Pietersen.

    Tell me how did they come to be so intelligent a to have learned to listen?

    Your rant and emotion show you have absolute scant understanding of the US academia and the rigours of their system. Including the dedication and clear headed nature of American teachers.

    Unlike ours where the curriculum is stuffed with also rats of crap, theirs is not.

    Read the likes of the great American educationalist, Jacques Barzum for an basic understanding.

    By the way his endeavours guided much of my reading through the body of Western literature and the renowned Harvard Classics.

    And you quote a half arsed populist member of your managerial elite.
    Why don’t you recognise Peterson’s shortcomings? It’s probably because you’ve never compared him to actual educationalists.

    Peterson seeks fame and money. The likes of Barnum have higher motives.

  • Keith Kennelly says:


    ‘I don’t nit-pick about typos/minor errors (except on rare occasions when … ‘

    Yet nit pick you do, here more than once. Makes you comment, even though qualified, lack the ‘ring if truth’.

    Am I correct in assuming you were once a teacher?

  • Jody says:

    For anybody who admires intellectualism here are two spectacular specimens; being well read is taken for granted.

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