No place for truth in citizenship training school?


No place for truth in citizenship training school?It’s an ordinary day at the Citizenship Traditional School...

Mr Chips: You have done admirably well, Ranesh, on the rivers, the animals, the flowers and the Prime Minister. Now turn to the next question. What do we call the heads of state governments?

Ranesh: Dickheads, sir, at least that’s what all my mates at work call them.

Mr Chips: Nothing your mates might say surprises me, Ranesh. But the correct title is premiers. Remember it. Next, tell me where did the first European settlers to Australia come from?

Ranesh: Well, I suppose most of them came from England. But can we be sure that some of them did not really come from Ireland?

Mr Chips: You are always splitting hairs, Ranesh. They came from England. Where did they come from? England. Remember the answer. Next question: which is the most popular sport in Australia — cricket, table tennis, water polo or ice hockey.

Ranesh: It’s got to be out of table tennis and cricket, Sir. ln my brother’s school everybody plays table tennis and hardly anybody plays cricket. Same with my friends. So table tennis must be the most popular.

Mr Chips: Nonsense, Ranesh. Only nerds play table tennis. Popular means what sponsors pay big money for on television. The correct answer is cricket.

Ranesh: But is that what popular really means, Sir? If this is a test for citizenship, shouldn’t they encourage us to use English accurately?

Mr Chips: Don’t be insolent, Ranesh. Your previous schools have made you think too much. This is a traditional school and insists that you give right answers, not ask questions. Now concentrate on the next questions about values. Tell me which of these are Australian values? Men and women are equal, a fair go, mateship, or all of them?

Ranesh: I don’t think a fair go can be an Australian value, Sir. They dumped my Uncle Vinu on Nauru. And Workchoices certainly isn’t fair. And in the streets people seem scared of one another — they only behave like mates when they’re drunk. So mateship can’t be an Australian value. So the Australian value must be that men and women are equal. But …

Mr Chips: Ranesh, I told you to concentrate, not to think. They are all Australian values. The Government has said so, and that’s that.

Ranesh: But isn’t truth an Australian value? Our granny told us never to give untrue answers to Australian officials. And can they really be Australian values if the Government doesn’t pay any attention to them … OK, sorry sir, I’ll try not to think any more.

No place for truth in citizenship training school?Mr Chips: Good man, Ranesh, you’re learning our Australian ways. Last question, then. What are Australia’s values based on: the Koran, the Judaeo-Christian tradition, Catholicism or Secularism? Quick!

Ranesh: We studied a lot about values at my school, Sir. But it’s not easy to answer the question. I don’t think any of the answers are accurate. Greek philosophers like Plato, Roman law and Roman speakers like Cicero have all helped shape our values. And none of the answers include them. So whichever answer I give will be untrue.

Mr Chips: Don’t be difficult. It’s the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and traditions can include anything you like to put in them. Those chaps you mentioned were honorary Christians.

Now Ranesh I’ve told you before, and I’ll say it for the last time, these citizenship questions are about Australian values. They’re not about truth or being accurate or wondering. Our business at the Citizenship Traditional school is to help you pass the traditional Government tests in literacy and numeracy. Numeracy means that you must answer half the questions to pass, and literacy means you need to remember what the right answer to each question is. Now take the questions home and memorise the right answers.

Ranesh: If you say so, Sir.

ErasmusErasmus is a Renaissance Man.




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Existing comments

Brilliant! And terrifying.
Aurora Lowe | 31 May 2007

It shows a certain amount of intended anti government bias that is not justified. you use the idea to show this bias as in the question on work place agreements, immigration policy and elsewhere when you blatantly satarise issues that have wide popular suppoert in the community.
DENTON | 31 May 2007

excellent article because it shows up the possibilities & hypocrisy of those who asvocate this "test". I am in favour of proper information being supplied to potential citizens - and current citizens!
Gerald T> Faulkner | 31 May 2007

I was born in Australia and no know other home. I don't know the correct answers to these questions; like Ranesh, I'd apply reason to arrive at answers.
I'd like to join commentator Denton in complimenting the author on the blatant satirisation of wildly poplular supported communities, or whatever it is that Denton is saying. I even support Denton's right to say so, even though we have no Bill of such Rights in our Consitution (is that the answer to another Citizenship Question?)
david arthur | 31 May 2007

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