'Australia's history lessons lack Asia focus'
Melbourne: An education expert in Australia has criticised the new national history curriculum that lacks content on Asia, saying the region holds the key to the country's future.
Tony Milner, Basham professor of Asian history at the Australian National University, said the skills Australians would require to assess and handle the Asian century "cannot merely be the capacity to examine flows of power, or economic issues”.
"We must get the curriculum right," he told the NSW History Teachers Association Conference.
The new history curriculum, from the foundation year to year 10, has been finalised by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority and it contains three cross-curricular priorities --- Indigenous Australia, "examining historical perspectives from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewpoint"; Sustainability, "the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life"; and Asia.
Milner said an introduction, in year 7, to ancient China and India, and part of a Year 10 component, were the only aspects of Asian history required to be taught.
Students can undertake the new national history curriculum without seriously studying the Asian region that holds the key to Australia's future, he said.
But, eminent historian Stuart Macintyre, who led the drafting of the curriculum, said yesterday "It has always been a problem that teachers feel less confident about teaching on Asia, but we have gone further towards installing it in the curriculum than previously."