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Type: Thesis
Title: School Stakeholder Views on a National Approach to Teaching History in Three Australian States
Author: Bloor, Claire Jane
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Education
Abstract: This thesis examined the responses of school stakeholders in three Australian states (South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria) to development of the Australian Curriculum: History (ACHistory). These states were selected due to their accessibility for the researcher, past approaches to History education and size. Data were collected through individual interviews with parents, teachers and History Teachers’ Association members, and small focus groups with Year 9 and 10 students. These participant groups were selected after identifying them as key school stakeholders: teachers and History Teachers’ Association members due to their role in teaching the curriculum in classrooms, students as the recipients of the curriculum, and parents due to their concern for their children’s educational outcomes. Development of the ACHistory commenced in 2008 following the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, agreed to by all state and Commonwealth education authorities. The release of the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History in 2009 launched a series of criticism targeted at the proposed national curriculum. Much of the criticism focused on the role that Australian history would play. The criticisms continued as the ACHistory was implemented in schools. The implementation of the ACHistory saw the profile of History raised in the media, along with debates about what and how Australian students should be taught about the past. The involvement of Commonwealth in History education, particularly with the announcement of the 2014 review conducted by Kevin Donnelly and Kenneth Wiltshire, led to some concerns about politicisation and the way this could influence the History curriculum. The objectives of the project were to establish the various opinions held by different school stakeholder groups in the three states on the nature and extent of politicisation of the ACHistory, identify differences and commonalities among the views of various school stakeholder groups regarding the direction the History curriculum should take. Triangulation with articles published in the media and academic journals was used to help establish how ideological factors related to political and cultural groups shaped the curriculum, if at all. While History education was assigned different purposes by various participants it was generally accepted as an important compulsory subject. Australian history, in particular, was considered an important topic that Australian students should study. Generally, the amount of Australian history taught under the ACHistory was seen as sufficient, although there were some individual participants who felt it should be adjusted. Alternatively, some participants would have preferred a more local, state-based approach. The ability of the curriculum to cater for the diversity amongst Australian students of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs was unclear, with some teachers holding that this was the responsibility of classroom teachers, not the curriculum. In terms of the development and 2014 review process for the ACHistory, despite opportunities existing for school stakeholders to provide feedback, not all were either aware or chose to be involved. While there was a range of responses, overall, there seemed to be an acceptance that considering the requirement for a national History curriculum to balance the needs of multiple stakeholder groups, the curriculum and the process used to develop it were, for the most part, adequate. This was a small-scale qualitative study, therefore there is room in the future to investigate how widespread the views of the participants in this study are in a larger number of Australian schools, particularly given that schools would have had more time to adjust to the requirements of the Australian Curriculum, and that states such as Victoria and Western Australia have since chosen to adapt the curriculum to their own local contexts.
Advisor: Secombe, Margaret
Rodwell, Grant
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Education, 2018
Keywords: History
Australian history
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