Fresh from a claim that the Ministry of Education is trying to persuade kids not to eat home made lunches, David Seymour has taken aim at a new target, a radical education policy that intends to teach our kids about racism and inequality and what has happened in the country’s past.
From the Act website:
“The Government needs to explain why a new education programme is teaching primary school children about ‘white privilege’”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“The promise of our country is to value each person as we find them and value their human dignity without prejudice. A policy that asks children to apologise for their colour is the worst form of bigotry. Dressing it up as anti-racism is hypocrisy.
“Every human shares 99.9 percent of their DNA. Government policy should focus on our common humanity and the challenges we each face as we go through life, instead of racially profiling children.
“What are teachers supposed to say to a ‘white’ child who may have no money or food at home, be abused, face a learning challenge, or any other challenge? How is it that their colour makes them privileged regardless of their individual circumstances?
“The Government’s latest attempt to push its version of the Treaty and co-governance in education is Te Hurihanganui, a programme being introduced in schools in Te Puke, Wellington, Nelson and Southland.
“The programme has a radical goal: transformative changes to “indigenise” and “decolonise” the education system.
“New Zealand children deserve a positive and inclusive education. No child should have to be apologetic about their creed or colour.
The statement refers to, shock horror, students learning about imbalance of power, racism and white privilege. Weirdly Seymour acknowledges that “Māori do face worse social and economic outcomes across the board.” But he does not want our children to learn about this or be able to question the reasons why.
For different reasons an expert authority also thinks that teaching kids about the effects of colonialism is a bad idea. From John Gerritsen at Radio New Zealand:
An expert panel has warned that compulsory New Zealand history lessons next year could upset some children and lead to difficult classroom discussions.
The panel, convened by the Royal Society of New Zealand to advise the Education Ministry on the the draft Aoteaora New Zealand’s Histories curriculum, also criticised the draft for “overly compacting” the curriculum and omitting major topics including the 600 years of pre-European Māori life.
The new curriculum will be taught to all children from Years 0-10 from next year and is centred on three “big ideas” – Māori history, the impact of colonisation, and the exercise of power.
The expert panel said it strongly supported the intent of the draft, including placing Māori history at its centre.
But it warned that “history can hurt” and schools must take care when introducing the curriculum next year.
“In sites where loss of life and land has taken place, and in learning about legislation that diminished people (the poll tax, for example), there can be hurt extending over time and generations,” it said.
I am sure that teachers are up to the job of presenting these concepts and ideas with sensitivity. And if we are to stop teaching kids subjects because they are disturbing and confronting then we will also need to stop teaching climate change.
In Parliament Chris Hipkins had the perfect response to the suggestion we should dumb down and sanitise what our kids are taught:
I want to ensure that young people in New Zealand understand all of our history—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and a recognition of the fact that we have passed down, through generations, discrimination that has led to some New Zealanders being disadvantaged in their educational journey, some New Zealanders not receiving the same opportunities as others. If our young people leave school with an understanding of that, that will be a damn good thing.
Seymour is right to think that the teaching of colonialism and inequality is a threat to his party’s support. And for a party that is holding an event called Honest Conversations it is strange that we should not be having an honest conversation with our young people.