26 June 2007

History committee members announced

The federal government has announced the composition of its committee to draft a new Australian history syllabus for secondary schools.

The group appears to have a conservative slant, and there has been some criticism of its membership. While Professor Geoffrey Blainey has ruffled a few feathers in his time (eg speaking out a decade or so ago about the "black armband view of history") I can't see how anyone could question his expertise and general suitability for the task. Gerard Henderson is another matter. He is a media commentator on current events and, while he may have studied history in his younger days, I'm not aware that he could lay claim to being an authority on either history or education, despite his comments reported in today's Australian:

Mr Henderson said Professor Blainey was one of Australia's most eminent historians, and although they had disagreed in the past, he was confident they could get together on this project. "It would be foolish to dismiss his enormous contribution over decades," he said.

Mr Henderson said there were two major traditions in Australian political history; the conservative exemplified by Robert Menzies and the social democratic tradition espoused by John Curtin and Bob Hawke. "They're both very valid traditions," he said.

Professor Blainey did not offer his opinion of Mr Henderson.

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