Dave’s formula for history teaching success

Howard’s historical credibility is a little waterlogged

1. The Big Story
Give students a broad outline of the history of Australia. Key events need to be covered so that students have a “big story” to fit the “little stories” into – pre-European Aboriginal history; colonisation; settlement; gold; immigration; major wars.

2. The Little Stories I – by the teacher
We need to teach them some little stories, peppered with interesting and fascinating details about the people and times. I reckon it’s crucial that students see history as “another world”, but one that is connected to ours. It has to be somewhat escapist. I don’t particularly care which ‘little stories’ are chosen, as long as they’re interesting, and they connect to the big story.

3. The Little Stories II – by the students
Students need to investigate little stories in depth, finding out for themselves what life was like, what drove people and events, and how they affect our common life today. This usually starts with the history of themselves, or their families, and then broadens out to include their community, city and nation.

4. Historical Skills
Students have to be able to use historical skills in order to find out about the little stories. But I reckon the method of finding out history is necessarily last on my list for a good reason – I never bother about how to find something out until I want to find it out. And for teachers educating students who have been bored silly by Australian History, motivating students to know more about Australia’s story is the main educational issue.

[Listen to the mp3 here]

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