Re-visiting cross-curricular priorities for a socially just world

Year: 2019

Author: Barrett, Margaret, Dezuanni, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Embedded within the Australian National Curriculum are three cross curricular priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures; Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia; and Sustainability. These priorities aim to ‘…give students the tools and language to engage with and better understand their world at a range of levels…provide national, regional and global dimensions which will enrich the curriculum…(to) encourage conversations between students, teachers and the wider community’ ( In a post-human world are these curriculum priorities sufficient to address the pressing needs that are emerging? How are concepts such as a ‘socially just world’ addressed in the formal curriculum for Australian schools? An on-line search of the curriculum documents indicate that the word ‘justice’ appears 46 times in the complete documents. It is perhaps predictable that most of these appearances are in Geography, Civics and Citizenship, Ethical Understanding, History, Sustainability, Health and Physical Education, and Classical Languages. Within the Arts curriculum, and indeed many of the other learning areas, the word ‘justice’ or references to a ‘socially just world’ do not appear. It could be argued that notions of a socially just world are embedded in the ethos of a public education. Equally, that which is not stated explicitly as an educational goal might well be over-looked. Much has changed in Australian and world society since 2009 when these priorities were first mooted. Is it time to re-visit, review, and expand? What is the role of the Arts in ensuring that students’ educational experiences provide them with perspectives that trouble, challenge, and move them towards socially just thought and action? This paper will address these issues through the lens of The Arts curriculum.