It was an evil day for conservatives when, in December, 2008, a pack of education ministers, Julia Gillard to the fore, signed their “Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians”. This launched “sustainability” as one of three cross- curricula priorities throughout Australian schools, turning them into incubators for green/left activism.
Eight of the nine ministers were Labor: Julia Gillard MHR; Andrew Barr (ACT), Verity Firth (NSW), Marion Scrymgour (NT), Rod Welford (Qld), Jane Lomax-Smith (SA), David Bartlett (Tas), and Bronwyn Pike (Vic). A ninth minister, Elizabeth Constable (WA) was a Liberal-leaning independent.
A decade later and school education is wholly captured by the Left. Kids are now drafted by teachers as activists for a panoply of Left causes masquerading as ‘sustainability’. (The big one currently is “Stop Adani coal”).
Teacher and educrat unionists don’t need to spruik in schools for their party – they just spruik for their party’s favorite causes (e.g. “human rights and refugees”; “100% renewables”). It’s career-safe, it gets the electoral job done, and credit can be claimed for promoting kids’ “critical thinking”. As a further bulwark against criticism, teachers en masse deliver not their own material but pre-packaged lessons provided mainly online by green/left advocacy groups which even back extremist anti-capitalism – but which are always careful not to mention political parties.
The national curriculum stresses activism. It remarks that sustainability learning areas “contribute to the development of worldviews necessary for students to act to create a more socially and ecologically just world.” So teachers want kids who are still flunking their driving tests to get out (by bike?) and replace capitalism with some nameless social-justice utopia. Venezuela springs to mind.
Left brainwashing in schools is a mostly hidden exercise. Why would Labor and the Greens draw attention to their insidious success? Now and then conservative parents are shocked when their kids spout a green talking-point but shrug it off as random juvenile idealism.
But at Woodville High in SA, teacher and union delegate Regina Wilson has done the cause a cruel disservice by posting on her union Facebook page (believing it would not become public):
“I am going to try to ensure that the next generation of voters in my classroom don’t vote Liberal, without being political of course, as I won’t tell my students what to think, but I teach them how to be critical thinkers who question those in power and especially those who seek to keep the status quo for the rich, upper classes…Try and take away my rights as a teacher but you can’t take away my voice. Increase my class size and it will just increase my chance to help MORE students become critical thinkers and help to get rid of those who treat them and me as worker bees, there to support their greed and corporate power.”
Ms Wilson’s huge mistake was to break the public service taboo against explicitly advocating for (or, in this case, against) a named political party. There would not have been a ripple if she had written, ‘…ensure that the next generation of voters in my classroom don’t support anyone in power destroying the Barrier Reef with Adani coal pollution, neglecting the human rights of refugees on Manus, and undermining 100% clean energy to benefit greedy fossil fuel interests.’
In the resulting fuss and recriminations, Regina Wilson got a caning from South Australia’s coalition government, the federal government, public service wallahs, and her state’s Secondary Principals Association.
Labor’s Tanya Plibersek weighed in, saying “Schools need to teach kids how to think not what to think.” Nice one, Tanya. But how much “critical thinking” is ever advocated by teachers against her own party’s policies? The key cause “Sustainability” means whatever the teachers and bureaucrats want it to mean, with concepts like “social justice”, “equity”, “fairness” and “global citizenship” tacked on – each a code for the progressives’ tilt on politics.
The curricula specifies that kids be exposed to a “diversity of views and values”. But the only viewpoints and values I have found during much exploration of school resource material involve Left-half diversity, starting with anarchic anti-capitalism. Citing Al Gore is standard fare. How many teachers would put their jobs on the line by citing contrarian environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg or ex- Czech president and sceptic Vaclav Klaus? Pushing “sustainability” is mandatory in teaching  but beware, don’t mention that rising GDP globally correlates with rising care for the environment.
Swamp-dwelling Coalition governments at federal and state level have no appetite to roll back what is ostensibly a bi-partisan national curriculum. Labor governments and their bureaucrats, on the other hand, ratchet up their “non-partisan” brainwashing by all available means, exploiting the licence given them by their 2008 predecessors.
The questions and issues raised in classes are seriously political. Is it just a coincidence the Victorian Education Department’s FUSE school-helper site offers 84 sites on refugees? While curriculum material runs a mile from explicit party partisanship, educators use their surrogate terms like “social justice”, “critiquing mass production systems” [the basis of modern civilization] and, as always, that catch-all “sustainability”.
Climate catastrophism mandated in class is hardly surprising, as the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) boasts of having consulted green/left groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) during the design phase. GetUp has referred to the Youth Coalition as “their friends” and AYCC refers to GetUp as their “supporters”. Ex-AYCC founder Anna Rose is married to ex-GetUP chief Simon Sheik.
How does the conspiracy work ? Check out Victoria, with its hyper-politicised educrats who, inter alia, have brought you transgender coaching down to kindergarten level and Marxist-inspired “Safe Schools” programs.
The Education Department delivers a barrage of tendentious global-warming “lessons” to primary and secondary students. These are packaged on its “FUSE” education site and include borrowings from green lobbyists and acolytes like Greenpeace, Earth Hour promoters, ABC Education and the vested-interest Clean Energy Council. Victorian teachers by the thousands contract out lessons to such groups as the Craig Kimberley millionaires offshoot Cool Australia (which promotes the anti-capitalist rants of Naomi Klein), the green/left Academy of Science, Al Gore activist groups whose mantra is literally that “The science is settled”,  and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition with their “climate justice workshops”. A newcomer is Student Edge which has facilitated a “student strike for climate” on November 28.
Of the third-party zealots injecting their material into schools, the worst has been the Australian Academy of Science. For several years to around 2015-16, its school material included a diagram putting Greens icon Bob Brown literally at the top of a tree diagram featuring 27 esteemed scientists and communicators. In“The Australian Biodiversity Knowledge Tree: 20th and 21st century contributors” we are told how Brown
“…was the leader of the campaign against the Franklin Dam, director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, member of the Tasmanian parliament and the founder of Bush Heritage Australia. He was an Australian senator and leader of the Australian Greens Party. While in the Tasmanian parliament he successfully campaigned for a large increase in protected wilderness areas.”
I couldn’t discover any other politician accorded an Academy encomium — except, of course, Al Gore.
Other Academy brainwashings from the recently-scrapped course:
- Activity 6.6 Climate change and Politics. “Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students will … appreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.”
- “Encourage students to engage with a local MP or councillor about science policy, environmental concerns and action. Do they have a voice? How would they vote in light of current policy and action?”
- Ask [15-16 years old] students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause. Do they know of anyone who has?”… Key vocabulary: advocacy, campaign, champion, environmentalist.
- “Students learn more about climate change action by studying environmental champions and campaigns in their local areas. What cause would you stand up for?”
- “Students research the political debate on climate change, analyzing scientific credibility and political agendas. Who will you vote for when it comes to science policy?”
- In “The Experts Speak”, 16-year-old students are advised to “Click here to hear some scientific points of view.” What they get is videos of conspiracist Naomi Oreskes (warming sceptics = tobacco lobbyists); and Greenpeace Australia/Pacific ex-CEO and Gore-worshipper Linda Selvey. Alongside them is a suffering earth-globe holding a sign, “Act Now”.
Back to the Victorian Education Department’s FUSE. The first of their third-party videos I looked at was for Year 10 from ABC Education, which started with a talking head and an anti-growth line:
Shot of a hillside straddled by spinning wind power turbines. Interview with Prof. Hamish McGowan, School of Geography, University of Queensland: “There needs to be a change in mindset as to how we use the planet. Do we always need to have economic growth at 3% a year? It’s not sustainable.”
The ABC edited out anything else from the professor, and certainly did not provide any counter-argument such as the growth benefits of electrification, health, education and infrastructure to, say, subsistence farmers in Myanmar or Togo.
The shameless ABC’s “narrator” turns up the dial to 11:
“A carbon dioxide concentration of 900 parts per million will translate to an average global temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius. This is a real possibility within the lifetime of our children…This is greater than the IPCC’s worst-case scenario and is unsustainable environmentally, socially and economically.”
So the IPCC is downplaying the warming threat? Yeah, right! How sceptical of all this would be a 15-year-old?
One FUSE “lesson” for kids from 11 to 17 comprises nothing but a web direction to Greenpeace propaganda and fund solicitation ($30 “regular giving” suggested). This site is described by FUSE, with a straight face, as “Information on environmental issues”. Top message : “Greenpeace will never stop fighting for a greener, healthier world for our oceans, forests, food, climate, and democracy—no matter what forces stand in our way.” 
FUSE also links to an American “Kids against global warming” site, that urges kids to browbeat others.
“Sharing their knowledge changes the students’ mindset from victim of climate change to protector (hero) of the planet. It feels good to talk about ways kids can work together to slow down climate change, because it makes them feel like they’re part of a bigger movement. It’s empowering!”
Good luck to kid “heroes” in offsetting Chinese and Indian emissions.
FUSE rams home lessons involving ocean oil spills but none that I could find on how fossil fuels have underwritten humanity’s spectacular progress in the past century, from an era when life was nasty, brutish and short.
Another FUSE lesson is in the form of a climate game for kids. Inserted from Earth Hour, it includes a pitch by the Clean Energy Council claiming: “Globally, renewable energy is now the same cost or cheaper than fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas for generating electricity.” I hope some brave bright kid asks teacher, “So why do we spend billions and trillions subsidising renewables?” (I eventually tracked that ‘cheaper’ claim back via Tim Flannery’s Climate Council to a 2014 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental renewables lobby group).
Education bureaucrats, as I have observed since 40 years ago, like to paper over their sheltered ignorance and inflate their egos by setting tasks for kids that would tax the ability of a dozen PhDs. Keep in mind that universities, desperate for bums on cheap seats, scrape the bottom of the barrel for teacher-training entrants. As Labor’s Tanya Plibersek herself complained, “I don’t want people with ATARs of 35 [out of 100] going into teaching, I just don’t.”
Here’s the Victorian bureaucrats’ task for 5- to 8-year-olds (maybe mentored by ATAR-35 teachers):
“Foundation to Level 2. Identify how people create familiar designed solutions and consider sustainability to meet personal and local community needs.”
An “Elaboration” provides this helpful example for tots still struggling to spell “carrot”:
“(VCDSTS013) exploring and critiquing products, services and environments for their impact on sustainability, for example the environmental risks and benefits of a system for organically or hydroponically growing a vegetable crop from seed or seedling to harvest.”
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Educrats blandly require kids to descant thus:
- 11-12 year olds: “Differences in the demographic, economic, social and cultural characteristics of countries across the world.”
The “Elaboration” above merely passes the buck to the geography teacher.
- 11-12 year olds: “Discuss how ethical principles can be used as the basis for action, considering the influence of cultural norms, religion, world views and philosophical thought on these principles.”
- 15-16 year olds: “Critically analyse factors, including social, ethical and sustainability considerations, that impact on designed solutions for global preferred futures and the complex design and production processes involved.
- “Elaborations — evaluating design and technology professions and their contributions to society locally, nationally, regionally and globally, for example Aboriginal designers collaborating with international craftspeople for local enterprises”.
After immersing yourself in this mandatory mumbo-jumbo, you might gain an inkling about why kids underperform on basics like reading, writing and maths. We ranked 39th out of 41 middle-to-wealthy countries last year on schooling basics, managing to beat only Romania and Turkey in the UNICEF rankings.
There is one source of pleasure in all this, pleasure of the Schadenfreude kind: Labor may be a victim of its own success in capturing schoolkids. The party now most matching the kids’ extremist “lessons” and voting intent is not Labor but The Greens.
Tony Thomas’s memoirs on pre-boom Perth, The West: An insider’s tales. A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s, is available here. To attend the Perth launch at 11am November 29 at the Victoria League, Shenton Park, email [email protected] by November 26.
 The other two are Asia and Aboriginality. The 2008 document says, “A focus on environmental sustainability will be integrated across the curriculum and all students will have the opportunity to access Indigenous content where relevant.”
 Progressivist gobbledegook in the curriculum talks of “Promoting reflective thinking processes in young people and empower them to design action that will lead to more a more equitable and sustainable future… The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future.”
 Learning about Sustainability: “Sustainability education is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action.”
 “The curriculum content is set out in the content descriptions and is therefore mandatory for schools to include in their teaching and learning programs.”
 As an example of “settled science”, climate modelers estimated that the planet had 400 billion CO2-absorbing trees. In 2015, new research using satellites and super-computer mapping upped the total eight-fold to 3 trillion.
 The Australian Climate Reality home page also cites John Cook’s debunked “97% consensus” claim and mis-characterizes Al Gore as a “Nobel Laureate” as if the failed Peace-prize winning politician ranks with Einstein and Howard Florey.
 As an aside on Greenpeace integrity, Anne Summers, world chair of Greenpeace 2000-2006, discloses artlessly in her latest book that her Greenpeace board shifted its language from “global warming” to “climate change” because for the Russians “global warming was seen as welcome relief from their frigid winters. Unfettered and Alive. Allen & Unwin, 2018
 “These elaborations give guidance about further opportunities to incorporate Sustainability into teaching and learning programs.”