I deliberately try to steer away from political issues here. I do this for a number of reasons. I’ve tried to have only a few ‘battles’ in my life and work, and speak about them only. I know a fair bit about those issues, and so can talk about them knowledgeably. I don’t have the time to know (and learn) about other stuff enough to talk about them with enough knowledge to propose a good case, and to rebut points from a differing point of view. I won’t talk to you passionately and persuasively about Trump, or American politics, for example. I won’t talk to you about mining. I won’t talk to you about high school education problems, or tertiary education. There are too many things I don’t know.
I will talk to you about primary music education – I know a lot about that. I mightn’t talk to you a lot, as I’m too busy just doing it, but if you get me at a good point in the week, I’ll sit you down and bore you to tears, if you’d like. I’ll also talk to you about chamber music, and performing it in a real and risk-taking way. I’ll talk to you about how hard it is to run your own concerts, and all the hurdles you’ll face. I’ll talk to you about how great it is to perform with other inspiring musicians.
But now I find there’s a political issue that has sort-of flowed into my teaching practise, so I’ve thought about it a lot. And I’ve read about it. And now I’m going to talk about it. And what’s more, I’m happy for you to talk back to me about it. In a grown-up, let’s-have-a-discussion-about-this-properly-and-not-start-name-calling way.
It’s about Australia Day.
Here’s the problem I have. You see, I work with a lot of Indigenous kids. And this really affects them and their families. This day makes them really angry. They are in fairly tight communities, and the whole community is angry about it. There’s marches, and drinking and anger. (Have I mentioned the anger?) And the kids pick up on this. And then, very soon afterwards, they go back to school, and are taught by (in my neck of the woods, mostly) whites. And they are still angry. And it takes a while to settle down. A goodly while.
I wonder what it would be like if my teacher-friends didn’t have to start the year off like this.
This all-important public holiday hasn’t always been a public holiday. It has only been like this since the 90’s (1994 to be exact). Why does our ex-PM think it’s appropriate to send off barbed tweets about the only reason to change the date of this is ‘political correctness’? Did he learn nothing as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs?
Have a think about this. Picture yourself in a share-house, and you want to have a party on a particular Saturday. One of your flatmates says “Guys, my grandma, who I loved so much, died on that day. I feel really miserable on that day. Can we have it the next weekend?” What do you do? You change the party date.
I am not saying let’s not have a day to celebrate this great country. I’m saying let’s have a date that everyone can celebrate together. We talk about ‘reconciliation’. We talk about ‘respect for the first peoples’. So let’s actually do something. Surely no-one really cares about celebrating on January 26?
And as an aside, how about a public holiday in November instead when everyone’s really knackered?