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Open Access World War I commemoration and student historical consciousness: A study of high-school students' views

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Commemoration of World War I (WWI), and specifically the Gallipoli campaign, holds a significant place in the Australian public imagination. This is currently heightened with the WWI centenary commemorations (2014–18) occurring on a local, national and international scale. In the current political climate, there has been a resurgence of nationalism amid fear of terrorist attacks and uncertain political futures. Traditionally, history education has been considered, by some, a tool for the promotion of national identity, despite history education literature and many curriculum documents increasingly focused on fostering historical consciousness in students. The Gallipoli campaign, and subsequent Anzac mythology, has maintained a strong focus in Australia as a means of promotion, and often celebration, of Australian culture in public history, including personal and familial connections via ancestral participation in WWI. This article explores the types of historical education conducted in three high schools. As part of a regular history lesson, students were provided with five sources and a series of questions to answer about the Gallipoli campaign as a historical and commemorative event. Students' responses are analysed in this paper using Jörn Rüsen's typology of historical consciousness (Rüsen, 2004) to gain an understanding of how students think about the commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign. Specifically, this paper is interested in students' navigation of collective memory and nationalistic narratives evident in the public sphere and popular culture, and how these inform a sense of historical consciousness.
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Keywords: AUSTRALIA; COLLECTIVE MEMORY; HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS; HISTORY EDUCATION; NATIONAL IDENTITY; SECONDARY SCHOOL; WORLD WAR I

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 26 October 2018

More about this publication?
  • The History Education Research Journal (HERJ) is an international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the global significance and impact of history education. It covers all aspects of history education theory, scholarship, and pure and applied research. Articles illuminate contemporary issues, concerns, policies and practice, drawing upon the eclectic research methodologies of history education. The journal is published in partnership with the Historical Association.

    HERJ is a relaunch of the International Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research. All past issues up to and including vol. 15, no. 1 were published under this title. HERJ vol. 15, no. 2 is the first to be published by UCL IOE Press.
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