Up the country or down in the city? Working with curriculum and young people's imagined Australias

Year: 2004

Author: Gill, Judith, Howard, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Data drawn from our ongoing study of the ways in which upper primary school students think about Australia have provided a rich source of information about their current attitudes to themselves, to Australia and the wider world. While those who live outside the major cities avidly share in contemporary versions of the bush idyll familiar from early twentieth century literature and art, the young city dwellers, while also convinced of the positive features of their lives in this country, prefer to rationalise their privileged position against the 'others' who live in strife torn countries amid the constant danger of war and repression. Having established that the concept of Australia varies markedly between young people who live 'in the country' as opposed to the majority of urban dwellers, in this paper we propose that significant features of their schooling experience do little to counteract these divided views. Following Nussbaum (1996), Abovitz (2002), Feinberg (1996), the paper urges a reassessment of the need for a newstyle civics education and for a new pedagogy involving elements from history and social science in order to generate more appropriate recognition in young people of the place of Australia and Australians in the increasingly globalising world.