E-Newsletter No.8, January 2014

ISSN:2202-5561 © Honest History Inc. 2014

A Happy New Year to all our readers.

New on the website is a note on the announcement by Education Minister Chris Pyne of a review of the national curriculum. Honest History and many others had anticipated this initiative and the note pulls together some relevant views, particularly as they relate to the history curriculum, and links to sources. There is material from Associate Professors Frank Bongiorno and Greg Melleuish and Dr Louise Zarmati.

Jauncey, our travelling blogger, sent two reports from Europe, one provoked by Flanders Fields and the other musing about modern Germany. He has another in the pipeline, comparing war commemoration in Australia with what happens in Europe, where war was much closer to hand. Coming soon.

Also coming soon, a draft chapter from Norman Abjorensen’s biography of Edmund Barton, our first prime minister and central figure in the Federation story.


What’s changed?

Researching the history of the term ‘Anzackery’, we came across this, published in 1967:

Australians must be in many respects among the least nationalistic people in the world and, on the surface anyway, most sceptical of patriotic gestures. It is very odd how little indoctrination is imposed on our schoolchildren, how little revered are the founding fathers or other possible heroes, how few care whether we have a national anthem, how casually Australia Day is taken.

The author, Geoffrey Serle, went on to describe the ‘cynical irreverence’ of Australians ‘which derives largely from the relative absence in our history of those crises of defence of hearth and home which have produced the standard patriotism of other countries’. He wondered whether the ‘Vietnam crusade’ might bring change. (‘Godzone: (6) Austerica unlimited?’ Meanjin Quarterly, 26, 3, September 1967, p. 245)

Backpackers and Eureka

Eureka was a youth movement. The inhabitants of Ballarat, like the youth of a century later, believed that the times they were a’changing. And like today’s backpackers, the gold rush generation was transient, expansive, adventurous: in search of experience, questing for something more authentic, more precious than they could find at home, something that would transcend the familiar boundaries of custom and caste. (Clare Wright, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2013, p. 456)

Dispatch from Swan River, 1837

It is a truth which is painful to relate, that in the 19th Century Englishmen and protestants, shall be so cruel and hunt after the aborigines like after a game, the innocent child is not spared; they are shot in the night time when peacibly asleep in their huts; when seeking food for their children, in one word the Monks of the Middle Age would blush if they would be accused of such cruelties which some of the settlers perpetrate. (Dr L Guistiniari to London Missionary Society, 26 October 1837, quoted, FG Clarke, The Land of Contrarieties: British Attitudes to the Australian Colonies 1828-1855, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 1977, p. 114)

Attributed to Albert Einstein

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?