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News Article

National curriculum fails at the first ‘R’
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

“Julia Gillard promised us that the new national curriculum would go ‘back to basics’ and teach reading the tried and true way, with phonics,” FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips said today.

“Ms Gillard pointed out that ‘learning how to read requires a start with phonics – the sounding out of letters.  The old C-A-T cat’.  She was absolutely right – but she forgot to tell the academics who drafted the curriculum.

“As our FamilyVoice submission to the curriculum review points out, the literacy section adopts the failed ‘whole language’ approach to reading,” Ros Phillips said.  “Students are not required to learn letters first.  Instead they have to memorise whole words as if they were Chinese characters.  The curriculum then introduces some letters and sounds – but the result is confusion.  Children tend to look at illustrations and guess, but they often guess wrong – undermining their confidence.”

Ros Phillips, a former teacher who has taught high school classes where half the students were functionally illiterate, said the literacy section of the curriculum needs a complete rewrite.

The FamilyVoice submission also recommends a complete removal of the controversial “cross curriculum priorities”. 

“It is ridiculous to require indigenous and Asian studies in maths and physical education,” Ros Phillips said.  “These concepts should be taught in relevant disciplines such as history and geography.  The curriculum is over-crowded, and abolishing the alleged ‘priorities’ would allow much-needed flexibility.”

Judaeo-Christian heritage

The FamilyVoice submission, like those from a number of other groups, highlights the need for students to know their nation’s Judaeo-Christian heritage which contributed so much to the democratic freedoms we now enjoy.

“Moreover, all students – not just those from religious backgrounds – need to know key Bible stories to help them understand the great classics of English literature,” Ros Phillips said.  “Even arch-atheist Richard Dawkins agrees!”


  • Christianity and culture

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