Dumb and Dumber

Former WA students didn’t seem to know             8 August 2006

In 2006 the Carpenter Government was advocating Outcomes Based Education as the salvation of school children in Western Australia. An article appeared in the morning newspaper to highlight the lack of general knowledge circulating among adults.

Not a big fan of straw polls but I had a good laugh at The West’s ‘It’s a Question of History’ on page 9 of today’s edition.

The West grabbed a handful of punters of all ages and asked some basic Australian history questions in their pursuit of Outcomes Based Education and the insinuation that West Australian students aren’t being given a fair picture of our national history.

Even if they are, many haven’t retained it.

Rebecca of Osborne Park won’t be troubling the scorers if she ever gets a run on the modern equivalent of Sale of the Century.

Rebecca didn’t attempt an answer to any of the six questions:

-Who did Australia fight at Gallipoli?

-Who was Robert Menzies?

-What year did the First Fleet land?

-What was Changi?

-What was the Eureka Stockade?

-What happened to Gough Whitlam in 1975?


Her best effort was to the question about the First Fleet, the chronologically earliest of the six: “I should know this one shouldn’t I?”

No Mercedes Benz station wagon coming your way Rebecca.

Corey of Scarborough knew about Gough; had a crack at three others and declared ‘No idea’ to two.

He would have been better off using the latter response to the Gallipoli question.

Corey could be watching West Wing – although I doubt it because it’s on the ABC – but he reckoned Korea was the enemy on Anzac Day 1915. Congratulations for having a go Corey but that’s wrong.

I accept that I am being elitist here and dates are probably irrelevant to many people but a basic knowledge of the country’s history should be expected.

It reinforces my belief that, if such a comparison was made, Australians would lead the scale of lack of knowledge compared to their educational opportunity.

If this belief is correct, it is a sad indictment on the number of dedicated educators who have been plying their trade since WWII.

Perhaps I’m out of touch. My school era – a long time ago – was filled with wonderful history information about Australian and world topics.

Has this been eroded over time to include more recent history or, worse, the teacher’s version of modern history with all kinds of bias thrown in?

Can’t answer that one but I doubt if Rebecca and Corey could either – and they were there.

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