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Monday, June 05, 2006

Another go at knocking the foundations out from under them

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That creature of bleak outlook and hard-edge economic rationalism, Gary Johns, has put a report to the Howard Government which wants to eradicate the teaching of Aboriginal culture to Aboriginal children. Talk about the language of hate pretending to be the language of reason!

Miss Eagle just wonders what Gary Johns knows about Aboriginal life and culture. Spread out for us your credentials for your pontification from the mountain top, Gary.

Miss Eagle was educated in the Irish Catholic tradition. This was a system that was predominantly staffed by religious people from a foreign country. The system was designed to protect, preserve, and promulgate particular religious values. It was meant to strengthen a community which felt oppressed and dominated and which did not have universal access to employment because of religious bigotry. But it became a significant education system in Australia to the extent that people who were not Catholic wanted to send their children to be educated in it. It has continued and gone from strength to strength even though it can no longer rely on the unpaid labour of people of religious orders and is staffed by lay people. Perhaps, if 80 years Gary Johns had been asked for a report, he might have recommended the eradication of the Catholic tradition and culture in education. What rubbish!

If anything, Aboriginal culture should be a significant component of mainstream education in public, private, and religious schools. Here in Melbourne private schools educating the middle-classes and the wealthy are sending their students to Western Australia to learn of and participate in Aboriginal culture and communities - and everyone is loving it. Now Gary Johns would remove this teaching from Aboriginals themselves. What rubbish!

Aboriginal education is under-resourced - in some cases and places, it is barely resourced at all. Aboriginal people, even with an education, are discriminated against in employment. Miss Eagle reckons that she will know that there is no discrimination in employment when she sees Aboriginal women on the cosmetic counters in David Jones and Myer. You understand, dear Reader. Aboriginal people providing those really personal services in mainstream commerce.

Meanwhile, whitefellas over-resource the private educational sector. They have it both ways: increasing commodification of education to enhance business interests while taking money from the taxpayer. Betcha bottom dollar that Gary Johns didn't address this matter. If he did, more money could be made available for Aboriginal education and Aboriginal participation in the mainstream economy.

Robert Nelson points out here that many Aboriginal communities do have a thriving economy - based on art. But Miss Eagle guesses that Gary Johns's concept of art as economy is just as non-existent as his concept of Aboriginal culture as education.