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  • Writer's pictureSharon McCormack

It’s not indoctrination, it’s 21st century education

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

Tens of thousands Australian students strike on March 15 for climate change across 50 location around Australia.

Many conservative politicians and political commentators voiced their concern of educators “brainwashing” or “indoctrinating” students in becoming political activists. They believe Australian educators are complicit in educating young people with a particular ideology to become politically active. Conservative politicians or political commentators need to step into Australian classroom as they would discover young people are receiving a 21st-century education.

Firstly, it is not brainwashing the evidence is clear and is found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report. In response to the report, Australian Chief Scientist Alain Finkel urged, “all decision-makers – in government, industry and the community – to listen to the science.” It is critical then in education young people develop scientific knowledge and skills to understand the global issue of climate change. Young people do engage in Australian classrooms with scientific concepts and principles related to climate change it is situated within the science curriculum.

Secondly, it is not ideology as Director for Education and Skills Andrea Schleicher recently wrote in an OECD publication, “the backdrop to 21st-education is our endangered environment.” Young people need to develop a sound understanding of the challenges and complexities of the global issue of climate change as well as the capabilities to be problem solvers, creative and innovative so they can find new sustainable solutions to this significant issue. Young people do develop these knowledge, skills and capabilities as these can also be found in the Australian curriculum.

Finally, as the 2008 Melbourne Declaration clearly states, “in meeting the challenging and complex demands within the 21st century it is important that our young people” become active, informed and responsible local and global citizens. In the Strike for Climate Change protests, Australia's young people called upon their government to treat climate change as a crisis and to take the necessary measures to reduce the effects of climate change. They were ambitious and aspirational in their three clear goals related to required government action to stop the Adani Coal project, halt all new fossil fuel projects and commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Young people as responsible citizens demonstrated their agency and voice in these protests around Australia.

Australia’s young people protested for the possibility of a different future and unlike our government they appear to be the change agents our society needs to address the significant global issue of climate change. The conservative side of politics need not be concerned with the education of our young people.

Indoctrinated our young people are not; this is indeed 21st-century education at work.

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