Thursday, January 26, 2006

No Repeats: World Premiere Australian History

Prime Minister John Howard has used an Australia Day speech to call for 'a coalition of the willing' to help improve the knowledge of Australian history in our schools.

"Au contraire," cry leftie minded. "Students learn plenty of Australian history. Just take a look at our 'society and environment syllabus'."

Hmmm, so that's what became of the subject-formerly-known-as History.

Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and the height of computer sophistication was an Apple IIE, we were taught the First Fleet, the Early Colonisation of NSW and the Gold Rush. For students who didn't take Modern History from Year 11, Australian history may as well have stopped in 1890. No wonder no one can name Australia's early Prime Ministers.

Perhaps much has changed in the decade or two since since I was at high school. So let's take a look at SOSE (SOSEd - that sounds like how I feel after a couple of our cocktails).

In fact let's all have a look - the 52 page PDF is here.

History, history... They said I'd find something about it in here, 'Nature of the key learning area', 'Contribution of the key learning area to lifelong learning', 'Cross-curricular priorities', 'Core and discretionary learning outcomes'. Nope, nothing about history in the contents.

Let's try a search. Okay, now we're getting somewhere... Over ten years of education in Queensland your children may or may not learn:

Page 6 A range of interrelated concepts associated with particular key values and processes underpins the Studies of Society and Environment key learning area. These are drawn from disciplines including history, geography, economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, law, psychology and ethics; and studies, such as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Asian, Australian, civics and citizenship, enterprise, environmental, futures, gender, global, media, rural, peace, and others.
Gee, after all that when do they actually study times, places or dates? let's look further...

Page 20 Level statement
Students understand the contributions, causes and effects, and differing perspectives about particular developments in Australia’s history and can use a range of evidence. They also understand how to organise information about these developments and can make predictions about Australia’s environmental and social futures (emphasis mine).
Core learning outcomes
TCC 3.1 Students use evidence about innovations in media and technology to
investigate how these have changed society.
TCC 3.2 Students create sequences and timelines about specific Australian changes and continuities.
TCC 3.3 Students use knowledge of people’s contributions in Australia’s past to cooperatively develop visions of preferred futures.
TCC 3.4 Students organise information about the causes and effects of specific historical events.
TCC 3.5 Students describe various perspectives based on the experiences of past and present Australians of diverse cultural backgrounds.
Discretionary learning outcomes
TCC D3.6 Students investigate family ancestors to determine cultural, political and social reasons for their life experiences.
TCC D3.7 Students create a cause and effect game for peers to match events in Australia’s past to environmental changes.
TCC D3.8 Students explain the attitudes expressed in a newspaper about a human
Huh? Howard is right on the money when he says: "You can't learn history by teaching issues. You can only learn and understand history by knowing what happened, why it happened and, of course, teaching of issues and influences is clearly part of that."

Okey, dokey, is there any more history to be had?

Page 21 TCC 4.3 Students share empathetic responses to contributions that diverse individuals and groups have made to Australian or global history.
Awww, give me a big hug Sir Lawrence Bragg.

Some of the recommended individual and groups:

Page 40(C)ontributions of diverse individuals and groups to Australian or global history Italian sugarcane farmers, Snowy Mountains Scheme, civil rights movements, Greenpeace(!!))
Now here's the truth:

Page 35 By organising the core learning outcomes of the Years 1 to 10 Studies of Society and Environment Syllabus in various ways, subjects and/or courses of study may be created. Three optional subject syllabuses — Civics, Geography and History for Years 9 and 10 — have been developed.
It's crazy, two of the most useful subjects (amongst the busy-work subjects like Futures and Dance), a person can learn, History and Civics are optional!

And you know what they say about history...

-- Nora

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