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Mr Howard, and Brendan Nelson from the Reactionary Right in Canberra, as well as Kevin Donnelly and Anne McIlroy, the Head of English at Genazzano College in Melbourne  and private school apologists are attacking Professor Sawyer from the University of Western Sydney. Mr Howard and Brendan Nelson, not surprisingly, have attempted to used Professor Sawyers concerns for the "reasoning ability" of ex-students who voted for Howard, as a stalking horse for their customary teacher and public school bashing.

What was this fuss about?

Professor Wayne Sawyer said  (The Australian February 9,2005 )

"This is about the idea that students have to be able to analyse language and be critical of language and that's an important thing for citizens in a democracy to be able to do. ..I was throwing down the gauntlet to the idea that if we are going to create critically literate citizens in a democracy then the last two elections, in particular, have been run around the use of language."

He  went on to point out that the Howard Government had used language effectively, coining emotive phrases....and political material from both major parties could be analysed in classrooms when teaching critical literature to students."

Does this mean that for Howard et al. critical thinking for democratic citizens has gone out of fashion while private religious schools that indocrinate provide a superior value system worthy of preference in the taxpayer funding stakes?

One is tempted to remember what happened to Socrates when he was accused of harming the youth of Athens- when he taught them to  critically question the assumptions and language of their political masters. Yet the study of Socrates became the basis of a genuinely liberal education.

Professor Sawyer has at the very least, successfully generated a discussion around the above matters.

But the DOGS are particularly interested to note that in the last election Howard and the private religious school interest turned the meaning of words like -public accountability, public interest, and "values" not to mention funding facts themselves- topsy turvy, upside down and inside out - in the interests of private religious schools, of course.

And now, we are entering a time when the definition of public education is about to be given the same treatment - as the State and Federal politicians, subservient and fearful of the powerful, self interested private school operators turn their wordsmiths upon us.

DOGS remind readers that only public schools are those that are

They are the corner stone of a liberal democracy, inherited from the time of the enlightenment - not the middle and dark ages of religious persecution.

Our public schools, the only schools which can teach our children to think critically, without the interference of religious indoctrination or cultural class distinctions, are not only under verbal attack from Howard and his private school cronies. They are grievously deprived of funding, in favour of religious, selective, and sectarian schools.

DOGS hopes that Professor Sawyer, as well as biting the language bullet of the Canberra reactionaries, will also look at the forked tongues of private religious men in the last forty years, crying poor parish schools as they have gathered  taxpayers money into their wealthy private schools and church coffers, with minimal or no meaningful public accountability.


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Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005