Friday, December 05, 2008

Senator Mitch Fifield: Academic freedom inquiry

Human nature retains an inordinate and profound faculty for self-deception and for that; we can thank the numerous leftist thinkers populating both academia and media… Now that you know where I stand, find excerpts from Senators Fifield's interview in relation to left wing bias in our educational institutions and media:

SENATOR MITCH FIFIELD, Radio 2CC Canberra with Mike Jeffries

5 December 2008

E & OE

SUBJECT: Academic freedom inquiry

JEFFRIES: “ … The other is the general concern about left-right bias, whether it’s in the media or more particularly in this case at universities. Now a report came out, this had been the result of a Senate inquiry and I thought this was worth noting, the Chairman of the Committee, Gavin Marshall, said the Committee’s finding is “in view of the relatively tiny number of submissions received from the hundreds of thousands of students who were said to be affected, there can be no basis for arguing that universities are under the control of the left.” He, Senator Marshall, said the inquiry was “a waste of time.” Commenting further on this is Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield who I believe sees it rather differently. Mitch Fifield is Senator for Victoria.”

FIFIELD: On the validity of the enquiry, “The committee report broke along party lines so there was a Government majority report and an Opposition minority report. So you’d expect Senator Marshall to give that short of response. But the genesis of the inquiry was the concern which had been expressed by many students at both secondary and tertiary level about the perceptions of academic bias on campus, the reasons for it and the avenues of redress. We did uncover some quite startling evidence. The Government senators as you mentioned stated that the inquiry itself was as a result of requests from the Young Liberals and Liberal Students and other campus Liberals. To some extent that’s true, they did request the inquiry. But Senate inquiries are often instigated by concerns expressed by members of the community and this inquiry was no different.”

JEFFRIES: “Anecdotally what you hear is students tell their lecturers what they want to hear so they get the kind of marks that they need. Whether that leaves a lasting impression on the remainder of their life is an interesting question. What’s your view on that?”

FIFIELD: “Yes it is an interesting question. There’s no doubt that some students feel the need to be strategic in how they frame their essay responses, in how they frame their exam work and that they do try and take a tack which will appeal to their particular lecturer. I guess that’s just human nature. If you’ve got a university academic who’s marking your work you want to please them and try to get a better result. My concern, and I think what was borne out of the evidence, isn’t so much that we have lots of individual cases of bias by academics. I think the greater concern is the curriculum and the course content which tends to be pretty monochromatic and doesn’t give a wide range of perspectives. Just one example, there’s a course at one university called Contemporary Ideologies and in this series of 12 lectures there was one lecture on liberalism and conservatism and 11 lectures on different sorts of socialism. Now I think what’s needed is a bit of balance and clearly that wasn’t the case in that course. But we also had some disturbing examples outside of university in primary school where one of my Senate colleagues came across a display at a primary school which had a picture of Mao Tse-tung displayed under the banner of "freedom fighter.” Now, you know, that’s certainly someone’s perspective. I think what we need whether it’s primary school, secondary school or university is a range of perspectives which are taught, a range of perspectives which students are exposed yo. I don’t think that’s happening to the degree that it should.”

JEFFRIES: “That’s interesting. I was talking to a colleague of mine and discussing the events in Mumbai and reports from what are generally considered to be left-leaning media. I said “oh about half the time they’re calling them ‘terrorists,’ the other half they’re calling them ‘anti-government protestors.’” And he said “well that’s an improvement.” Maybe so. But you hit on an interesting point, and I think this applies to media and certainly applies to education, it’s not where there’s obvious (inaudible), it’s not where there’s obvious editorialising, anybody can see that. The real bias comes in what you’re not told, what you’ve not covered, as in your example about, what was it, 11 of the lectures on socialism and one on the more conservative side of politics that might be offered.”

FIFIELD: “That’s exactly right. It’s so often what students aren’t exposed to. And in that particular example of the 12 lectures, 11 of them on socialism, that was at Melbourne University and Melbourne University in light of our report have no agreed to change that particular course and to provide a little more balance. There are other isolated instances which are disturbing. We had some students, or one student in particular, give evidence that one of their colleagues who was Jewish was eeferred to in a lecture as “our resident Zionist.””
No, of course, there is no bias; teachers and lecturers would not dare instill students with their leftist agenda, where do the conservatives get that notion?

Related links:

The real Rudd-Gillard education revolution gathers momentum

Forget the Rudd Government’s populist computer-for-every-student routine, the real revolution is ready to roll, as reported in today’s Age. In this month’s Quadrant, Dr Kevin Donnelly, director of Education Strategies, explains what the ALP education revolution is really all about.

Dr Donnelly writes: Similar to Australia’s failed politically correct, outcomes-based education model of curriculum, the national goals paper argues that education must celebrate diversity and difference, students must become Asia-literate, and all must "respect Indigenous cultures and the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as a valued part of Australia’s heritage and its future” … [O]ne searches in vain for any mention of Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage or what we owe to the institutions, language and culture inherited from the United Kingdom. Instead ... >> more

New Left offensive in culture war

The appointment of former Communist Party member Professor Stuart Macintyre to oversee history as a subject in the national curriculum, Kevin Donnelly writes in today’s Ausralian, means that his worst fears have been realised. It also reveals that the Rudd Government is mounting a new left wing offensive in the ‘history wars’. In his 2007 book Dumbing Down, Dr Donnelly wrote:

“The way Australian history, social studies and geography are now taught provides a further illustration of how successful the cultural-left has been in imposing its approach on curriculum..." >> more

We need an education counter-revolution
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s plan to continue with the education revolution misses the point. Over the past 30 years, state Labor governments across Australia have been revolutionising education as part of the left’s long march through Australian academic, cultural and media institutions. What is needed is a counter-revolution to root out the left wing ideology that has been so successfully implanted in the education system... >> more

No comments: