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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 252

Senator PETER RAE(5.45) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The Curriculum Development Centre annual report 1981-82, together with the text of a statement by the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan), outlines the reasons for the delay in tabling the Curriculum Development Centre annual report for 1982-83. The report was considerably late. Concern has been expressed many times in this chamber in relation to reports which are late. I think it is to be welcomed that there is, along with the late tabling, an explanation by the Minister for the reasons for the late tabling of the report. This has meant that honourable senators are not just confronted with something which is out of date but that there is no explanation as to the reasons for the delay.

I will talk a little about the Curriculum Development Centre, its future role in Australia, whether it has served a useful purpose, and if it has, which way it might go in the future. In Australia we have a very wide ranging debate amongst people who view the problem of curriculum in the various State education systems as a matter of real concern. They wonder whether we should have a much greater degree of standardisation or whether we should simply have a curriculum development centre which can develop various aspects for study and make the information available to the State and private education systems which can take it up or not take it up as they choose. To many people that is really what the debate has been about. Others believe that this country needs to have far more work done, particularly for its brighter students, those who have the greatest opportunity at school, to develop, within the curriculum, the types of studies which will put Australians at the forefront of technology and technological thought.

This brings me to repeat a suggestion which I have made previously. I believe that one of the areas in which we fail badly as communities, not just in Australia but throughout the world, is in relation to what might be called technological economics. It is called this at Stirling University where Professor Bradbury is in charge of the faculty of technological economics. It can be called that as long as one does not get the idea that the subject is simply technology or economics. It is about how the technologist communicates with the economist. How does one bring together the various concepts? How does one develop the newspeak to enable the increasingly complex concepts which are developing in this rapidly changing world to be understood by a person who is in the board room having come up, say, through the accountancy section or the technical section or having never worked in either section of an industry? How does one bring together people who have to try to understand and to assist in the decision making, such as members of parliament, if they cannot understand the terminology and are turned off, as people often tend to be, by jargon? How often have we heard in this chamber criticism of lawyers for being too prone to use jargon whenever they have the opportunity? How often have we heard criticism of medicos and others? These days the economist is probably mentioned more frequently than any other. I think we need to give a lot more thought, at a school level as well as at a tertiary level, to the concept of some intercommunication, some understanding between the various disciplines. It is all very well to stream kids into an arts type humanity stream, science stream, or whatever it may be. One of the main things they need to know is what is the difference and how they communicate between the two. That is one of the areas where the Curriculum Development Centre could perhaps do more than has been done in the past. I thank the Senate for the opportunity to speak on this matter.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Before we go any further, there still seems to be some confusion in the Senate despite what I hoped were lucid explanations of the order in which I was going to take the business. I make it clear we are now considering papers presented on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week about which no motion to take note of the paper was moved. Under that category come the following papers: On Tuesday, Nos 7 and 8, on Wednesday Nos 1-4 and 6- 10 and of the papers presented today, Nos 1, 2, 6, 9, 11 and 13. I will accept motions to take note of any of those papers from any honourable senator.