Would-be “Aborigine” Bruce Pascoe and his Dark Emu fairy tales of pre-contact farmers and town-dwellers are becoming mainstream in schools. As I described last month, “Teachers’ Resources” for Dark Emu, authored by credulous Williamstown (Vic) High School teachers of geography and humanities, are tailored to 16-year-olds.
In NSW another set of “Resources” is propagated by Alex Wharton, cited as Head of Middle School at Carinya Christian School, Gunnedah, which is 430km north of Sydney. Wharton is a dedicated teacher of English and a prominent educationist, but he’s obviously never checked Pascoe’s warping of explorers’ journals to create bogus history. Peter O’Brien in Bitter Harvest demonstrates Pascoe’s manipulations and provides side-by-side comparisons to demolish Pascoe’s theses. O’Brien also documents how Pascoe attributes his most absurd claims to un-named “explorers” with no further reference provided.
Wharton last year sadly displaced his Christian zeal into foisting Pascoe rubbish on susceptible 11-year-olds. He recommends Young Dark Emu coaching in NSW primary schools, Grade 6, at two hours per week for the whole of first term. Given the term is 10-11 weeks, 11-12 year-olds are to get 20 hours’ brainwashing. Instead of hymns, Wharton suggests kids literally sing praise of Pascoe.
Dark Emu is not officially endorsed by the NSW Education Department but no teacher will suffer professionally from applying the Wharton template, since it’s pegged to the Aboriginal leg of the Labor-designed mandatory “cross-curricula priorities” trifecta and the NSW curriculum for 11-12 year olds. Wharton aims to get Pascoe brainwashing started with pre-school bubs. Here’s his agenda for teachers:
Baby Dark Emu: Explain to students that Dark Emu is written for adults, and Young Dark Emu is written for school age pupils. Have students discuss and reflect on the idea of a text for really young readers titled, Baby Dark Emu. Students could discuss and plan what it might contain. How could it tell the message of Young Dark Emu in a visual, simple, and minimalist way for children? Have students create the storyboard and accompanying captions for Baby Dark Emu. Free, customised storyboard templates could be used. (ACELT1618) (EN3-7C)
Under the heading ‘Presentation’, we get:
Dark Emu is the most important book in Australia and should be read by every Australian.’ – Marcia Langton, as quoted in The Australian. This quote appears on the back cover of Dark Emu and can equally apply to Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu.
Invite students to compose and deliver a two-minute presentation in response to the statement that ‘Young Dark Emu is the most important book in Australia and should be read by every young Australian’. In their presentation, students are encouraged to use personal language, reflecting on the impact this text has had on their own understanding, what they have learned, and what they would like to do with this new knowledge.
The presentation may be in any form chosen by the student, and could include a speech, a PowerPoint Presentation, a Prezi, a multi-media clip, a poster presentation, a short play, poem, or song. (ACELY1710) (EN3-1A)
The tract paints the darkest picture imaginable of white-indigenous relations past and present, claiming that even now whites are treating blacks as “less than human”:
For teachers: It is important to remember that Indigenous Australians were dispossessed of their land and culture, excluded and treated in horrendous ways. This treatment was mandated as government policy. Indigenous Australians have been treated (and in some cases are still treated) as less than human. Indigenous Australians have a strength and resilience that should be acknowledged and celebrated; as well as an intelligence and complexity of culture that is finally being presented by Bruce Pascoe in his writing (ACELY1801) (EN3-5B)…
Consider the ways that Pascoe highlights changed perceptions and thinking in Young Dark Emu via language use. Invite students to brainstorm the qualities associated with ‘towns and villages’. Have students compare these qualities with that of a ‘hunter-gather society’. Discuss the evidence that Pascoe presents, such as:
But people did live there and prospered, their villages, buzzing with happiness, the towns thriving because the inhabitants were utilising the natural conditions and developing the Indigenous grains and tubers (page 55).
Focus on the success of the images presented by Pascoe, in contrast to what the settlers and wider Australian society have considered unliveable and inhospitable land.
Kids are badgered with prompts like:
‘I am shocked by…’
‘Young Dark Emu has led me to a deeper understanding of Australian history…’
‘Young Dark Emu has taught me that…’
‘I believe that our current farming and harvesting practices could benefit from using traditional knowledge because…’ [This is absurd!]
‘Young Dark Emu has made me a more informed citizen of society by…’
Wharton sees Pascoe’s contrived and mangled quotes from explorers as not just prose but the stuff of poetry.
Invite students to compose some free verse poetry that uses a number of the vocabulary list words [from Young Dark Emu] in their own poems. Using these words will assist students in the process of reflection and synthesis of their understanding with regards to Young Dark Emu. Have students share their poems together by reading them aloud and listening to each other. The poems could then be published in a class anthology, in the school newsletter, and throughout the school. (ACELY1714) (EN3-6B)
I assume a brainwashed kid’s poem might go like this (teacher-prescribed words are underlined):
Weep for the cruelties inflicted on massacred agricultural civilisation;
Confront the astonishment of explorers as they greedily grab
The harvest of permanent irrigated societies
Living in substantial structures with domesticated wombats.
Much else of the Resource guide is beyond satire.
Cover Artworks: Have students make brief summary notes on the key ideas that Young Dark Emu presents. Students are to design a new front and back cover for Young Dark Emu that they feel effectively captures the main idea and message of the text. The teacher might discuss key elements of a front cover design including a bold title, subtitle, author name, use of striking colours, etc. The teacher can highlight key aspects of a back cover including a blurb, praise/recommendations, publisher name, barcode, etc. Students should look at the three different covers of Dark Emu for inspiration by searching online via Google Images. Students may also like to create little gold stickers as ‘awards’ for any categories that they think Young Dark Emu should win.
Language Use: Have students analyse and identify the use of tone and mood in Young Dark Emu. How is the language used to develop a clear, honest representation of the past?
# Direct students to locate a historical source/reference in Young Dark Emu. Discuss the power of authentic historical referencing to support the points that Pascoe is presenting … Where does he draw his evidence from, and why is this significant?
More pointed questions are: Why is the fact-checking of Bitter Harvest not cited in supplementary resources about Pascoe, additional to the fawning, hyperbolic and ignorant reviews provided? Why has “Professor” Pascoe, as described by the SMH, not sued Quadrant and Peter O’Brien for mauling his reputation? And why has Professor Pascoe not provided any testable genealogy about his alleged multiple clan lines? His claimed lineage is denied by the Yuins, Bunurong and Tasmanians, whom he claims as kin (his four grandparents came from England).
Kids will be monitoring each other’s views and emotions about Dark Emu, with the teacher riding shotgun. This is fine in non-partisan contexts, but here the China- or Soviet-style protocols snuff out any deviance from Pascoe’s and Wharton’s fantasies. Namely, that pre-contact Aboriginals were sowers, harvesters and agriculturalists in towns housing a thousand or more peaceful and democratic-minded black citizens.
The guide says, under the heading “A truer history” that after a lesson on Pascoe’s material, kids are to spend 15-20 minutes writing up the details. Then they
find a partner from the opposite side of the classroom. Have the pairs read each other’s work. Bring the class back together and have five students read out their entries. Discuss the concept of ‘truth’ and how we could go about finding out a ‘truer’ occurrence of events discussed in the lesson before. (ACELT1618) (EN3-7C)
The Gunnedah agenda turns kids into activists. This is described as kids’ “work”. In a “Rich Assessment Task – Podcast Conversations”, Wharton’s Resource says:
Present students with the following four situations. Invite students to select one [scenario] and then script and record a one-to-two minute conversation that thoughtfully answers the chosen question. This task could be done in a podcast style and the class could listen and reflect on each others’ work.
Scenario 1: You are at the family dinner table and your parent or caregiver says to you, ‘So what’s the big deal about Young Dark Emu anyway?’…
Scenario 4: You are discussing the current debate about Treaty or changing the Australian Constitution and you ask, ‘What was Terra Nullius and how was it justified by claiming that Indigenous Australians were primitive?’ (ACELT1615) (EN3-7C)
Who knew that 11-year-olds were full-bottle on Constitutional amendments and treaties between Aboriginal claimants and ordinary Australians (including the Aboriginal claimants)? From the little I know about just the Victorian treaty process, “Treaty” will founder from its mind-boggling complexity and semantic sophistries. Moreover, why are kids taught lies that the Australian settlement involved a “Terra Nullius” doctrine that did not exist in the eighteenth century?
Another “Rich Assessment Task” is “Letter or Email Writing” which sounds kosher enough: “Outline to students the features, structure, and language of a letter as a form of communication. If not in a letter form, teachers may like to explain to students the codes and conventions that apply when sending a formal e-mail.” But then comes:
Invite students to compose a letter or an e-mail to either the class teacher, principal, or Minister for Education, in which they explain why Young Dark Emu is such a ‘vital piece of Australian history’, and why it should be compulsory for all students to study it at school. Students can reflect on how studying this text might assist the wider school and community, as well as Australian society as a whole. Students could identify what other subject areas Young Dark Emu links with (other than subject English), and to include this relevance in their written response. (ACELY1714) (EN3-6B)
The Resource doesn’t actually tell kids to hit ‘Send’ on their emails and letters — we can all guess what kids will do.
Are you shocked at teachers recruiting child soldiers for the culture wars? Goodness, blitzing MPs with leftist, climate and asylum-seeker causes is standard fare in the postmodern classroom! I found an horrific example in school climate materials provided by the Australian Academy of Science in 2015, for example. Sophisticated class materials by leftist lobby Cool Australia, welcomed into schools, provide more coaching on letter-drenching. These documented cases are the tip of an iceberg.
Dark Emu’s push into schools is backed by a large coalition of interest groups led by the ABC. The allegedly cost-conscious ABC must have spent millions already on a 14-chapter video extravaganza about Pascoe, and has scheduled a two-part further tribute for later this year. But even the ABC has quietly added a Prologue update that Pascoe’s thesis is contestable. This new get-out clause suggests the ABC is finally aware it has embraced a dead man walking.
Wharton constantly pushes the ABC pieces at kids. Behind him stands Reading Australia, a coalition organised by the leftist Copyright Agency via $100,000 a year from its $2 million p.a. Cultural Fund, i.e. other people’s money.  The Copyright Agency collects authors’ copyright fees and distributes them to the authors, less a handsome 14 per cent mainly for executives’ obscene salaries and its “culture” cash handouts to the Left’s “creative” warriors and others.  Wharton himself won $15,000 of authors’ money as first recipient of a Reading study grant last year (that’s him, at right, with his windfall). This year he joined the judging panel to pick the second winner. This system is good for creating a monoculture.
The agency’s Reading Australia offshoot endorses books for primary and secondary English class work (don’t confuse it with the Readings Australia book group, Carlton). The affiliate bodies are “Australian literature and literacy experts, teachers, writing industry stakeholders, First Nations writers’ representatives and diverse sector representatives.” The agenda is identity-focused, with positive discrimination for Aboriginals, women and women-like people, LGBTQIs and non-WASP cultures.
Titles for schools must meet curricula needs, and “reflect Australia’s rich and diverse cultural history and present authentic literary voices.” The result is a book list oriented to Aboriginal and woke topics. Among the 387 books for kids that I checked, Aboriginal-oriented books were 22 per cent; explicitly woke titles, 5 per cent; right-of-centre authors, less than 1% [two poetry authors AD Hope and Les Murray, and one Menzies essay]; and apparently non-political titles, 71 per cent. One formal criterion for titles reads:
“There should be no known objection to the authenticity of any works.”
Since Dark Emu and Young Dark Emu include Pascoe’s claims to be of Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian descent, and those claims have been publicly denied by the Yuins, Bunurong and Tasmanians, Pascoe’s work fails this authenticity test and should be deleted from the list.
LET us now return now to the classroom, where Wharton treats Dark Emu’s bastard offspring, Young Dark Emu, as a New Age holy book. Kids are told, “Read the subtitle ‘A Truer History’ and discuss what it might mean. How can history be truer?” Pascoe is fitted out as a prophet. While kids are exhorted to research Pascoe’s life, it is to exalt him not expose him:
Introducing Bruce Pascoe
Explain to students that having an understanding of the author will significantly enrich their understanding of Young Dark Emu. Have students conduct some research into Bruce Pascoe and his contributions as a writer and individual. The teacher can guide students to categories to research, which could include his past occupations, his current work at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, and other writing projects he has completed. Students may also devise questions about Pascoe that they would like answered. There is extensive visual and audio-visual material relating to Pascoe available online for students to access via search engines. In particular, Chapter 1: Bruce Pascoe (3 minutes 12 seconds) of the ABC Education Digibook ‘Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity’, presents Pascoe’s investigation into his own family history and how it led to his writing. On page 80 of Young Dark Emu, there is a brief biography of Pascoe that references place and includes his Indigenous heritage.
It sure is “brief”. There’s a big picture of Pascoe posing as a bearded native sage, a few lines about his books and then, “Bruce lives in Gypsy Point, Victoria, and has Bunurong, Tasmanian and Yuin heritage”.
Imagine it’s your child being subjected to the Wharton Resource harangue and group-think:
I used to think…but now I think…
Use the sentence stems of ‘I used to think….but now I think…’ as a structured form of responding to the content in Young Dark Emu. Students write these reflections on cards or post-its and use it as an exit slip at the end of a lesson.
Responding to the text
Colour – Symbol – Image – Word
Use the chapter structure in Young Dark Emu as a framework for student responses to the text. Have students divide one page in their books into four squares, and at the end of each of the six chapters, have students complete a Colour – Symbol – Image – Word (CSIW) activity. In these four boxes, students will respond to what they have read in the chapter, and do this by choosing a colour to represent what the chapter was about, a symbol (concrete object to represent an idea), draw an image that represents the chapter, and a key word that helps them to respond to what they have read. Have students share their CSIW [colour/symbol/image/word] posters in small groups of five at the end of each chapter. There they can receive and offer feedback to their peers (ACELY1709) (EN3-8D)
The Resource continues,
Invite students to collaboratively make a mind map based on their research of Pascoe. This could be done on the whiteboard or via an ICT tool such as Mindmeister (free, collaborative mind mapping/brainstorming for groups) or Bubbl.us (free cloud-based mind mapping tool). Display with the following question and keep so this can be revisited at the end of the unit:
- Did having an understanding of Pascoe’s personal and cultural context add to your engagement with Young Dark Emu(ACELY1708) (EN3-2A).
Kids, like troops in trench warfare, are softened up before they get the text. They are to watch a Dymocks video about Pascoe (“I’m a Yuin man,” he announces), and then asked to answer: “Was there anything in the clip that resonated with you?”
Incredibly, kids are told, “Based on the front and back covers, as well as the YouTube clip above, have students write down a three-sentence prediction as to what they think their response to the text might be.”
Together note the logical order and sequence of the chapters and how they develop and build. Have students write two-sentence predictions about what each chapter might be about, using the chapter titles as a stimulus.
Classroom absurdities pile up. To show kids what pre-colonial Aboriginal life was like, they are told to view an animated fictional clip called “Everyday life of the Darug people” made by the University of Western Sydney. (ACELT1613) (EN3-8D). Firstly, the Darug culture is a an invention since the 1980s by activists filling in the blanks of a way of life extinct except for a small potpouri of words taken down by early settlers. The animated film is more Walt Disney, or a green wet dream, than ethnography. The voice-over says the Darugs were “peaceful and hospitable, welcoming strangers to their land” and “respecting each other’s land, never entering without invitation”. Their elders were “wise men respected for their compassion, bravery and knowledge of the law” (no mention of dominant cultural facets Australia-wide concerning old men’s polygamous monopolies of young girls, or excruciating initiation rites for youths). The “acknowledgement of country” practices which were a Perth 1976 invention, are back-cast onto the Darug’s pre-contact idyll. Curiously, while the clip has neighbouring tribes living in harmony, it also mentions the manufacture of “fighting sticks” to ward off intruders. That’s the thing about faux history — you can have it any way that suits, even to simultaneous and mutually contradictory claims within a few sentences.
I have marvelled for half a century (since I was on a committee evaluating a country college’s economics course) how teachers fling at kids and teens – who can barely boil an egg — questions that would tax a thousand top scholastic minds. Like these from Wharton:
What is culture? What is Australian culture? What is Australian Indigenous culture? What happened to cultures as a result of colonisation? What happened in Australia? Whose interpretation of this do we learn about at school? How can students learn a truer history? (ACELT1800) (EN3-2A)
While class time is frittered away by this pernicious and racist agenda, our kids are falling behind on just about every international index of literacy and numeracy. This is the fruit of the Left’s capture of education from the top-down (Council of Australian Governments – COAG) and bottom-up (internal and third-party propaganda in classes from pre-school onwards).  Conservative state and federal governments continue to tolerate schools creating new generations of green/Left voters.
Tony Thomas’s new book, Come to think of it – essays to tickle the brain, is available as book ($34.95) or e-book ($14.95) here.
 “He has researched, published and presented professional learning for teachers at local, state and national contexts on a range of topics including cultures of wide reading, and teaching texts with sensitivity. Alexander was the inaugural recipient of the Copyright Agency’s Reading Australia Fellowship for Teachers of English and Literacy (2019). His research was a literary analysis of the representation of the colonial experience for First Nations and non-First Nations people.”
 Wharton’s Resource reads: Unit Suitable For AC: Year 6 (NSW Stage 4). Duration: One term with two one-hour sessions each week. Young Dark Emu should be read in shared, modelled and independent reading sessions.
 The other two legs are Sustainability and Asia Relations
 The strange acronyms refer to guideposts used by the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA). ACELT1618 reads: “Create literary texts that adapt or combine aspects of texts students have experienced in innovative ways (ACELT1618 – Scootle ).
Next question: what is “Scootle”? Scootle is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education. It includes learning resources from the National Digital Learning Resources Network, managed by Education Services Australia on behalf of all Education Ministers.
 EN3-6B In English Stage 3 B. Use language to shape and make meaning according to purpose, audience and context. The resources are from Teach Starter, a private operation selling pre-fab teaching content to 750,000 users.
 Pascoe’s notion of pan-continental peace and democracy forged by pre-contact Aboriginals does not gel with early accounts such as those by Aboriginal Protector, Charles Seivwright, who was quite sympathetic to his charges. As Peter O’Brien recounts in Bitter Harvest, (p146-49) different clans came in to the Protector’s Terang, Vic. camp competing for access to rations, and intense fighting ensued. At 2am Jarcoort natives begged him for protection after a 13yo girl Worangaer was speared twice in the face by Bolagher clansmen. While he tried and failed to save her, Bolagher men selected a 17-year-old Jarcoort girl named Mootenewharnong and felled her with about 20 spears. The Bolagher men took Worangaer’s body into the bush, Seivwright following them. They disembowelled her and Seivwright witnessed ‘the most fearful scene of ferocious cannibalism’. As the old man began to portion out the entire contents of Worangaer’s viscera, there was a ‘general scramble’ by some of the women for her liver. It was snatched up in pieces and eagerly devoured. Next the woman avidly tore up and ate Worgangaer’s kidneys and heart, as the old man cupped his hands and quaffed the blood and serum that had collected in her chest cavity. Worangaer’s body was then dismembered and Seivwright was offered a foot. He thought it wise to accept and carried it off to later be buried:
At the end of the day, Seivwright rode off to secretly bury Worangaer’s foot, passing on the way the tree hollow where her severed head had been placed between some stones heated in the fire, and was undergoing a process of baking.
Arkley, Lindsey; The Hated Protector, Orbit Press, Melbourne 2000, p165-8. Note that Seivwright was “hated” not by the Aborigines but by the settlers for his zealous regard for Aborigines.
 Windschuttle, K, The Break-Up of Australia. Quadrant, Sydney, 2016, p378.
 In 2013 the Agency disclosed that its CEO trousered $490,000. The 2019 annual report says coyly that three of its fattest cats earned more than $250,000 each, but provided no further detail about them.
 First-stage participants include: Two representatives of the teachers’ associations representing primary and secondary schools (ALEA and AATE); Primary Education Teachers Association of Australia (PETAA); Teachers; ASA (Australian Society of Authors); First Nations Australia Writers Network; Academic/Australian Literature representative; ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association); Children’s/YA Lit rep; Representatives from other sectors as required.
 Reading Australia is committed to representing cultural and linguistic diversity through our selection committees and we actively encourage participation by individuals from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. We respect and embrace diversity in all forms, including gender, LGBTQI and cultural heritage.
 In 2004, the then editor of the journal of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, Wayne Sawyer, argued that the re-election of the Howard government proved that English teachers had failed to teach ex-students how to think. He wrote that English teachers must redouble their efforts to teach young people how to think correctly on the basis that English classrooms have “failed not only to create critical generations, but also failed to create humane ones”.
A year later, Pat Byrne, a head of the radical-left Australian Education Union declared : “We have succeeded in influencing curriculum development in schools, education departments and universities. The conservatives have a lot of work to do to undo the progressive curriculum.”