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Kinnor David - "a most attractive blog".

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Inculcation of Mediocrity and Confronting Turbulant Priests

Dr Kevin Donnelly writes yet again, about the pernicious fad of "outcomes-based-education" sweeping the Australian public education systems. He gives the example of a teacher trying to teach "the best way to drive from Melbourne to Sydney":

Based on OBE, not only are teachers denied a syllabus detailing the best way to Sydney, but children negotiate their own way in their own time, and as long as they eventually arrive, whether via Perth or Brisbane, all are considered successful.

Sometimes, I have to weep for future generations. That's ironic, because, in Tasmania, for example the essential "subjects" include such things as "[t]hinking, communicating, personal futures, social responsibility and world futures". Now that's the intellectual equivalent of masturbation. It may feel good to its practitioners, but it's ultimately sterile. Worse, it looks to me like a fig-leaf for the indoctrinaation of students into the kind of politically-correct shibboleths that reign supreme in the humanities faculties of too many Universities. But then, what does it matter if children cannot read, write or spell, so long as they know how to fight "Amerikkkan cultural hegenomy" and understand that the oeuvre of Michael Moore represents the highest achievement of western civilisation.

In the same newspaper, Christopher Pearson looks at mainstream Christianity's response to the Howard Government's proposed industrial relations reforms, and accuses the churches of adopting a neo-Marxist approach to politics that overlooks, if not ignores, firstly, the taxation and social security reforms of the last thirty years, and secondly, the needs of the unemployed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Uniting Church, having given up believing in God in favour of abstract notions such as "social justice" is the worst sinner:

Dean Drayton, the president of the Uniting Church, says the Fair Pay Commission's mandate "is to keep wages low rather than assess what workers need to live a decent life", which strikes him as "incompatible with Christianity. Christians are called to challenge systems and structures that breed hate, greed, oppression, poverty, injustice and fear. Anything less than this is a watered-down expression of our faith."

To which Pearson scathingly responds:

My guess is that this kind of quasi-Marxist rant doesn't cut much ice any more, even among Drayton's rapidly dwindling flock

No wonder the pews are empty. Pearson asks:

Why, in the name of abstract notions of wage justice, should the churches help to keep people locked out of the workplace and dole-dependent?

Why indeed?

The same abstract notions bedevil the Catholic Church's response to minimum wages. John Ryan, the executive officer of the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, has just written a paper, The Common Good and Industrial Relations. In it, he writes that "Catholic social teaching calls for the fixing of a wage that is based on the needs of a family, not the needs of a single person". This is offered as though it were one of the proverbial "laws of the Medes and the Persians, never to be repealed".

Yet Catholic social teaching changes and develops through time, responding to emerging circumstances. John Paul II overhauled the church's position on the role of the market economy, for example. It's hard to imagine the encyclicals Ryan has in mind were written in the era when a dual-income family was becoming normative and significant welfare transfers were broadly available to help support dependents.

Ryan's position is schizoid. On the one hand, he acknowledges the growing role of the public purse in providing for dependents of workers, including those on minimum wages. On the other, he continues to maintain that the Fair Pay Commission's preparedness to take into account the needs of families is the test by which it should be judged and, ipso facto, bound to fail.

Pearson's argument is not that wages for the borderline employable should be permanently low, rather that the taxation, industrial relations and social security systems can work together to give people the dignity of work and a decent standard of living. Its compassion is more sophistocated than the outdated red-rag lunacy of some church beaurocrats.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jauhara said...

David, we had this outrage foisted upon us in Pretzlevania 15 years ago....and now later, the whole system is in revolt...my kid can't even figure out her math homework because she doesn't have the mentality, nor do I, to figure out WHY 2 plus 2 is 4.

12:55 PM  

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