Teachers reject Australian PM's history call

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Australian teachers have rejected Prime Minister John Howard's push to overhaul the teaching of history, saying his criticisms do not reflect what is happening in Australian schools.

Kate Cameron, the immediate past national president of the History Teachers' Association, said Mr Howard of all people should know the Commonwealth had invested millions of dollars into the teaching of history.

She said the Prime Minister woould soon realise his claims that young people did not have a full understanding of Australian history were unfounded.

"Well, I don't know what he would base that assertion upon – he just said it was obvious to him but he didn't explain what his sources were about how obvious it was," Ms Cameron told ABC Radio.

"I think he's going to be extremely embarrassed when he realises that his own government has poured millions of dollars into providing wonderful teaching resources and professional development opportunities ... to promote the teaching of Australian history."

Mr Howard wants a new approach to the teaching of history, saying it is time students knew the dates of important events such as the Battle of Hastings or when Captain Cook first sighted the Australian mainland.

He also says more should be taught about Australian indigenous history and the importance of British and European history to Australia's national story.

Ms Cameron, a history teacher for more than two decades, rejected the style of teaching the Prime Minister was proposing, saying there was no need for a strong emphasis on the dates of events.

"People of his generation are often hung up on dates," she said.

"The dates are taught, but they are not the centre ... we're not fanatical about dates."

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