Australian Schools To Ditch History And Geography For Coding

Digging back into my childhood memories, I remember hating history and geography in school. It's a personal thing and I remember some of my friends really enjoying the two subjects. The Federal Government recently decided to scrap them both as core subjects in favour of teaching coding to kids. I'm all for it, but how do you feel about the changes?

Children playing Minecraft picture from Getty Images

It is said that teaching children history is important so they can learn from the mistakes of people in the past, which will help them to develop sound decision-making and judgement skills. Geography... I'm not exactly sure why this needs to be taught, so let's just gloss over it.

According to a report by The Australian, the Government has endorsed a new school curriculum that scraps history and geography as compulsory subjects and bringing in coding classes instead. This will see students from as young as Year 5 learning about computer coding.

The move makes sense given how pervasive technology is in our lives and practically every profession requires you to demonstrate some kind of computer skills. Australia is also suffering from a "brain drain" where we're losing technology talents to overseas companies, leading to a skills shortage in the IT space.

Equipping children with advanced computer skills early could secure them a bright future in a world which is becoming more high tech. This is something that other countries like the US and UK are already doing.

But how do you feel about this change in curriculum? Are we missing a trick here by not teaching kids history and geography? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Business Insider Australia]


    I wish I learned coding as a youngster! I don't mind them giving the boot to geography, but I really enjoyed history. What is the best predictor of future behaviour? ... Past behaviour.

      I would rather they give the boot to art/woodwork/cooking and lessen the time for sport. I think geography is more relevant than history, since most people will read/learn about some type of history during their life anyway.

    As a teacher I keep wondering why the politicians keep putting their nose into the curriculum. I would gauge that History and Geography would still most likely be an option in for the later years of high school. Coding has been something we have been pushing for so long. Students need to be prepared for the future while some still think mandatory texts such as Shakespeare are necessary for future student careers in the workforce.

    Funny though that the picture for this article is gaming. You do realised that coding can be used for more than just gaming LH??

      Yes we do... But it's kind of hard to find an image of kids doing coding in our stock image gallery! >.<

        I really don't think that this is a good representation of coding, people less tech savvy will judge this article by the picture.

          Can confirm. Even as an IT consultant I saw this article and instantly thought we were trying to include gaming into school curriculum. A laptop or code would have sufficed imo.

      Something, something, don't judge a book by its cover ?

    I think both history and geography are important, but if it's an either/or proposition to teach coding then geography is vital. Helping children and young adults understand more about the world around them, from the locations, people and geo-political and economic climates are hugely important. Those things aren't picked up by any other discipline.

      Spot on. Geography is the study of human interaction with the natural and built environment. Without it we end up with people who are anti-renewable energy, lack innovative thought and treat our geo and political neighbours like trash. Sounds familiar.....

      Coding is an excellent offering at school, and maybe even mandatory at some level. Kids need a rounded education and options to pursue their areas of interest, even if they're less relevant like Latin and Ancient History.

      Last edited 21/09/15 4:14 pm

    Geography? Sure, get rid of it (or at least just mix elements into History)...

    But scrapping History? NOT a good idea! I'm all for looking to the future... but there's a reason for the saying; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana)

    Now we just need teachers who know coding to teach it.

    History and geography are my strong points in pub trivia (I suck at sports and entertainment) but I've also worked in IT for almost 20 years (fitting the nerd stereotype perfectly) so I get why kids should learn some coding.

    At the expense of geography (assuming some of that is rolled into History) that seems okay, but not at the expense of history.

    Most schools by now have some kind of computer / IT classes in their curriculum already, right? They didn't need to drop geography or history for that. Why can't coding be taught like that? Treat it like cooking or woodwork or whatever other things they do in schools now.

    Also, is Year 5 too young? I was sent off by my mum to coding courses when I was ten and eleven and I just couldn't grasp it at all. Wasn't a failure of the teachers (or a lack of capability for me - I work as a software engineer now) but I was 2-3 years younger than the other kids and nothing clicked for me until years later when I was a few years older.

    What do we learned from history or geology? What do we miss if we don't have it? What do we gain really if we learn some kind of coding and who needs this for his job (or life) in the future?
    Why do we need to know about WAR? Revolution? Democracy? Politics and Rulers? Sustainability or Ecology? Dinosaurs or Pirates? Convictions and colonisation?
    What about difference between Austria and Australia? New Zealand? Perth and Sydney? China? Japan? Europe or USA? All the same to you? What about Vulcan or Earthquake? Continental drift? Rising sea level? Ocean and Islands? Stones and diamonds? Gold and new rare earth's?
    OK now to the new things: We all need computers, mobiles and tablet. 24/7 wireless connected to the internet. To do ... watching TV, youtube, movies, music... and of cause everyone needs programmers or what they are called to build them and sell them and use them and so on. Application developer to mine bitcoins, cheat on minecraft or other cool stuff, right?
    I learned myself in technical school on a mainframe assembler. We learned 6 month to code half a page of code to type (not ourself but a paid computer typist) into a terminal and make a turtle move in a circle (not really on a screen because it had no screen but we were able to imagine it and print it out) in 1986. I was able to keep my knowledge until I left the school to learn basic and other cool languages end of 1986. To become an IT manager today. But I never used any language for my job or at home so as most applications were much better and changed so often that is was a waste of time to do so. But I know of some programmers making good money. Not as good as Geologists in Mining. Who needs historians?

    I'm pretty sure that scraping both subjects ain't the same as no longer making them compulsory as the article states.

    I'm all for allowing coding to be an option over either of those two subjects as long as the teachers are capable of teaching it well but I suppose that applies to all subjects.

      I swear to god you're following me around the internet Ynema.

    The national curriculum most certainly does not "ditch history and geography for coding." Under the Australian Curriculum history and geography content are part of the Humanities and Social Sciences learning area rather than standalone subjects, but they're neither "scrapped" nor replaced by the Technologies learning area.

      I did say they were being scrapped as compulsory subjects in the article. Apologies for the confusion. I have updated the first paragraph to clarify this point. Cheers!

    While I agree computer skills are important for their future, numeracy and literacy are even more important. Look how hard it is to get those right already. Maybe leave the coding to high school and have basic computer skills at primary level.

    While it's important to learn how technology works (not so convinced on coding - which language to teach, getting qualified teachers etc), I wouldn't do it as at the expense of History/Geography.

    We want kids who are well rounded and can ask the right questions about what is going on in our world. Geography these days has turned into a good discussion around Australia's role in the global context and History is all about asking the right questions.

    As with all subjects, some kids will prefer learning to code and tech and others will prefer Geography/History.

    They are constantly dumbing things down - it's ridiculous. How about getting rid of all of the topics that teachers have to teach these days because parents can't be bothered?

    Last edited 21/09/15 4:46 pm

    I finished school back in 2006, they were far more focused on sports, closest thing i had to coding was digital media, where we had an assignment that used GameMaker Studio, but as it was drag and drop i finished it in a weekend.

    Would have loved coding, could be so far ahead by now

    We dont want to be like this....

    I think what's desperately needed is a broad 'Logic' subject. Logic is a basis for rational arguments (in any field - academic and not), and programming.

      Agreed, learning to assemble a spaghetti code mess that does what you expect most of the time is not that difficult. Honestly it requires a bit of stubbornness and time.

      However designing something that is useful and that is used is far more challenging. The ability to rationalise, research, and validate would serve children in far better stead.

      The model of brain load and dump doesn't suffice when the value of knowledge is diminishing. Consider the rate (and volume) at which data is generated, data which combined to become information, information is applied and based on outcome is considered "fact" - knowledge as it were.
      Now consider that not all data is "true", that facts are ultimately subjective (take a look at Wittgenstein's concept of language games) - the future of learning should equip people with the skills to critically evaluate what is presented to them and promote life long learning.

      Or we could just grind out graduates who can follow a cookie cutter paint by numbers approach.

      I think you're touching on a point that I hold very dear, aethershollow;

      The continued discussion of "when would I ever use this outside of school" is a poor argument - school (especially stages 1-3) is there to teach children to learn. Certainly, basic building block in each major discipline are important for later topics - kids need to learn all their basic literacy and numeracy; other than that though, we need to set kids up to pursue knowledge and to be able to learn, regardless of what they choose to pursue later in life. This focus on applicable knowledge in school contributes to generations of people believing that their education finishes when they leave high school.

      Coding is a fantastic path into understanding logical processes - a computer won't do anything you don't ask it to, forget to account for a particular state in your code and you get unexpected behaviour. Debugging code, forming logic tables, testing boundary conditions all force the programmer to think in an organised, logical pattern which gives them a very valuable tool, even if they never code anything again.

      At the other end of schooling, it seems to me that it would make more sense to force students to do at lease one STEM course and at least one humanities course in their last years at school. Teach teens to learn and think in different ways, not allowing so many people to get to the age of 15 and be able to throw in maths and science.

    It's a smart move to get students to never learn the historical crimes of governments and lack critical thinking skills. An insular and uninformed population is more easily fooled.

    I finished school in year 2000, which means I was in grade 6 in 1994, and I remember that we learned computer programming back then, using apple IIe computers and a program called Logo. It was a set of commands to tell the computer to move a turtle around the screen and create various patterns. Computer programming which appealed to primary school kids. It seems that with computers becoming more complex, we seem to have lost a simple way of teaching children how to program computers.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Dumb and dumber; coming to a country near you real soon. About 5 years ago I was high school teaching and often gave my year 11 classes impromptu general knowledge quizzes. I was astounded by their lack of knowledge in just about every area. History, Geography and Science were at the very top. Sure we should be teaching tech subjects including coding, but by dropping core subjects and concentrating on things like coding only exacerbates the building of very shallow 'neural nets' within the brains of our young, who are already lacking in circuitry through their overexposure to screen time. I was brought up to read books which engage the brain through imagination. Plot, sight, sound, smell and colour, emotion: all created in the cortex and which lays down kilometers of neural 'trails'. What happens when we bring our young up on screens when all those things are already provided along with an instant endorphin highs? What happens is dendritic networks with all the variability of the Grand Canyon, rather than a rich and spreading net which has huge built in redundancy. God help us when these youngsters get to middle age when Alzheimer rates will start to soar. So no to dropping History and Geography; a balanced and in-depth education is also needed to produce individuals that have the ability to think for themselves, and to understand the wider picture of what is going on in the world. Armed with that information they will not be so easily controlled by those who seek to produce commodity producing clones for the global hive.

    It is in the particular interests of many governments to produce a public that they can channel and control. An education that produces individuals who understand the world, past and present and where everything is in the world, is considered antithetical to cranking out the cooperative provincial minds that those in control find useful to fit into their economies. Informed and independent minds can be critical minds and are considered problems by too many controlling regimes. And World History and Geography are necessary avenues in forming a broad understanding of the world, and in a truly informed population should be mandatory subjects. As computers become increasingly easier to use and control, the need for huge waves of 'programmers' becomes redundant and unnecessary. An an excuse for keeping students away from the 'dangers' of informed critical and individual thinking...and becoming potential 'troublemakers' to the self protective systems that govern and control them via narrow channeling of education. Its another sorry and dangerous example of the dumbing down of people, reducing them to a provincial, uninformed and manipulated level.
    "We have met the enemy and...he is us! Pogo Possum by Walt Kelly
    "History? Oh, that's just the recording of all the things that never should have happened."
    "Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it."

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