Using the Bible in English classes

Australian author Tim Winton and some rocks


The Federal Government’s national school curriculum includes the study of Aboriginal culture and spirituality at almost every year level, but nothing about our nation’s biblical heritage, says NSW teacher David Hastie.

Knowledge of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures is important for cultural as well as spiritual reasons.  Even ardent atheist Christopher Hitchens said, “You are not educated if you don’t know the Bible.  You can’t read Shakespeare or Milton without it.”

And it’s not just classical Western literature – the works of post-colonial writers such as Salman Rushdie, Allende, Marquez, and Neruda are infused with biblical material.

And great Australian writers like Les Murray, Tim Winton, Gwen Harwood and Thomas Keneally also make use of biblical narratives and motifs.

The new Australian English curriculum requires the study of Indigenous dreaming stories, rightly regarding Aboriginal spirituality as of national importance.

Why should it not also introduce school students to the literature of the Old and New Testaments as essential background to our cultural and historical heritage?

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 13 Feb 2011.

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