HTAA March 2012

Australian History in Universities

Letter to the The Australian 9 March 2012 – Unedited Text

It is puzzling to see recent discussion about the health of Australian history in universities (“Why our history’s losing its lustre”, 7/3) happening in isolation from any real consideration of events at school level. As a result of the introduction of a national school curriculum, the study of Australian history will now be mandatory throughout the country. Whatever the flaws in the curriculum development process, and there were many, Australian history now has an opportunity. The challenge will be to ensure that all students are presented with history that is engaging and inclusive and that they emerge with a coherent understanding of the national story. This will only happen if history is taught by passionate experts who are motivated and informed by their own experience of the subject at university. However, if the subject is in the parlous state being reported at many universities then clearly we are not well-positioned to support the successful implementation of a national curriculum. While there are exceptions, at the moment the concern is that universities and academic historians have not understood the significance of what is happening in schools. It might be time for some genuine engagement with the teaching profession and colleagues involved with teacher education.

Paul Kiem
History Teachers’ Association of Australia