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Authentic Engagement with the Discipline: Historical Understandings in the Australian Curriculum: History

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With the recent implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: History in 2013, it is timely to reflect on the vision of the discipline-based curriculum that was set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians (2008). This article argues that although the rationale of the curriculum asserts the importance of history’s “own methods and procedures”, the historical understandings fail to materialise in a consistent and meaningful way that support authentic historical inquiry. It is further argued that the curriculum document does not make explicit the discipline structures through the use of these understandings of evidence, causes and effect, continuity and change, significance, perspectives, empathy and contestability in its curriculum strands and consequently it does not fully enact their analytical and evaluative nature. Finally, there is limited demonstrated understanding of the method of application of the historical understandings such as historical perspectives, contestability and empathy in the curriculum and, as a result, this risks undermining the role of these concepts in facilitating historical reasoning. This article is drawn from a larger study and its overall aim is to develop an evaluation of the curriculum in supporting and enacting the disciplines structures, as well as offering an insight for teachers who are entrusted with the implementation of the curriculum and with inspiring students’ understanding of the discipline and their curiosity and imagination about the past.

Keywords: Australian Curriculum; historical reasoning; historical thinking; historical understandings; history

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • Education and Society provides a forum, where teachers and scholars throughout the world, are able to evaluate current issues and problems in education and society from a balanced and comparative social, cultural and economic perspective.

    Education and Society, a fully refereed journal, is used by teachers, academics, research scholars, educational administrators and graduate students.
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