Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Opinion written by Dr Jay Deagon PhD, 18 October 2014.

A recent article in the Australian reported outcomes of the review of the Australian Curriculum. In that opinion article it was stated “many people seem to have been surprised at the mention of spirituality in the review report. Some people seem to think that the reviewers have made this up.”  The word ‘spiritual’ is not just made up and has an important role to play in curriculum. In a recent study, I reviewed the Melbourne Declaration and also a decade worth of historical Queensland syllabus documents. The study found that “the spiritual dimension of life” to be a key rationale for education. There were also a number of competing and complementary discourses located in the texts. For example, Indigenous perspectives, equity considerations, social justice, and active local and global citizenship were embedded with spiritual ideals and values – ideals that did not necessarily derive from religious perspectives. My study found that spiritual discourses fell into three categories:

  1. spirituality as a socially constructed, publicly expressed and communally validated concept – i.e. meaning is localised;
  2. spirituality as an aspect of whole child development; and
  3. spirituality as an integral part of overall health and wellbeing.

When approached from a balanced, cross-cultural perspective, spirituality is about providing opportunities for students to explore connectedness with self, others, the environment and natural world, and understanding the place of humans in the larger scheme of life on Earth and beyond. Spirituality is about “being-in-the-world”. Isn’t that what “education” is about? We teach people to be human beings – not recontextualised packets of unrelated subject material. Spirituality can play out in education as service to others; studies of philosophy and critical thinking; personal reflections and mindfulness; moral and ethical consumer studies; acting upon inequity and poverty issues identified in local and global environments; school based kitchen gardens; (re)connectedness with our food system; sustainable relationships; and so forth… If approached from a position of relevance to the students and families in the local community, are “hands-on” in their approach, and provide opportunities for an awakening of global consciousnesses, these types of activities in school contexts can contribute in a positive ways to spiritual health and wellbeing. For these reasons, spirituality is more than a nominal goal of education within Australian curriculum.


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Some days I love home economics… other days I wish I could bash my head up against a wall and shout I give up… Why is it that only a few visionaries have ever seen how important home economics education is to society? Hammurabi, Aristotle, Socrates, a few chapters in the Bible, Count Rumsford, King O’Malley and Ellen Richards – now come on! That is a pretty impressive celebrity line up of advocacy supporting us!

Today I read a section of a doctoral thesis written by Margaret Henry in 1995…  I will quote the section that has upset me:

Home Economics today [1995] is at the crossroads of its history in this country [Australia]. With the decisions regarding the outcomes of the National Curriculum debates, Home Economics is in a position to determine its future. It can decide which way it will take. Again, with the establishments of the newly constituted Home Economics Institute of Australia, Home Economics is able to determine the future of the area. Home Economics has [or better still Home Economists have] the potential to become a powerful voice in Australian society (p. 336).

Ok, so here is the rub… it is now 2012 and we are having the same National Curriculum debate… the HEIA and the HEV have submitted position papers to the National Curriculum debate (follow the links to read the papers)… but where are we now?

The point being made here is that first, history does indeed repeat itself, second, why are our powerfully voiced Home Economists still ignored? Simple answer is… I don’t know… but gee I wish I could change the status quo. Home Economists are awesome! I know that – you know that – why can’t “they” see that??? Hmmmm… back to work.  The bruise on my forehead hurts a little but it gives me inspiration to not give up.

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Written by Jay Deagon @HomeEcConnect


Don’t turn schools into war zones

My deepest respect goes out to my Swaziland Home Economics colleagues! Reading this article reminded me about a conversation I heard from an African Home Economist attending the 2012 IFHE World Congress – this desperate and dedicated lady was getting very angry – and rightly so – the conversations around her were about abundance. She was saddened that she could not make anyone understand that buying a new coffee machine for school was just not important. The individuals, families and communities she serves on a daily basis are dying from hunger, war and disease. She wanted us (privileged people) to remember the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, their purpose and importance. I heard a similar conversation from one of our Pacific Island colleagues… The Solomon Islands is one of the poorest countries in the world and they are right next door to one of the richest – Australia. I acknowledge that Australia has abundance and scarcity too. Extreme poverty is all around us and, in my opinion, is an unacceptable state of affairs. Where has our humanity gone?

I cannot sit here with my laptop, freshly ground coffee, cold milk and homemade potato and leek soup without taking a reality check. What can I do? I believe the International Home Economics community has a lot to offer – they just don’t realise it yet or know where to start. If anyone is interested, I have a few ideas… Register with HomeEcConnect or email me. Registration with HomeEcConnect is free, secure and moderated. Let’s discuss some options together.

We need to get real, share resources and remember our privilege.

The other thing that reading this article did for me? I remembered how totally AWESOME Home Economics is!!! No doubt about it! I’m very proud to be a Home Economist.

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