For the past few decades the debate over whether school syllabuses should shift their focus towards practical life knowledge and skills has continued to rear its thought-provoking head, and with good reason. The world we live in is rapidly evolving and our school systems are struggling to keep up. Written by Sabrina Muysken.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has recently resurrected the argument, with the ‘Back to Basics’ scheme being considered by state and territory education ministers this month. The proposed new curriculum suggests Australia’s current program is failing to equip students with competitive 21st century skills and puts forwards a list of considerable changes.

Geography and history subjects will cease to exist, making way for a new humanities and social sciences subject that will not only encompass both previous disciplines but also introduce civics, citizenship, economics and business teachings. Additionally, schools will commence compulsory phonics-style reading classes.

“This back-to-basics approach is designed to ensure all students across Australia have access to a high quality curriculum, which equips them with what they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy,” Minister Pyne told The Weekend Australian.

Undoubtedly, current school curriculums are in danger of becoming irrelevant. The value of teaching students the basics of life economics and finance is indisputable and would be a welcomed addition. Yet, will honing all studies back to the basics really improve our youth’s integration into the 21st century?

The current information age hinges around our critical and creative thinking abilities, seeing us tap into both our basic and sophisticated skill sets. Will a curriculum that focuses on simplex knowledge adequately prepare students for our complex world? Minister Pyne’s proposed curriculum to “add more depth and less breadth” likens itself to an educational paradox, leaving us to question whether basing our youths schooling on practical knowledge will turn into an impractical reality.