I’ ve been at the HTAV conference today. Highlights have been the textbook sellers dressed in Egyptian and one introducing herself to me as Nefertiti! There was a panel in place of the keynote speaker. Tony Taylor from Monash Uni predicted the end of VCE Australian History if the proposed revitalisation of that subject at Years 9-10 goes ahead, a prospect that shattered not a few present. Amanda Maitland-Smith, a first year lawyer-cum-history teacher, re-inspired all the older history teachers to think about what history teaching means, though she needs to find some new turns of phrase (‘making history come alive’ is getting tired). One panel member, a teacher of history teachers, enlightened us with the latest bureaucratic uglification of the English language – students don’t study “history method”, but “history specialism”. Yuk!
My workshops were fairly substandard. One was intended to be about how to teach local history but was instead an extended excursion around a small central Victorian town, with no ideas about how we could teach local history. I misread the blurb for the the next workshop and got caught in a promo for Heinemann Humanities. The whole workshop is a sales pitch…the teacher she is simply going through a chapter of the textbook. This is not an exploration of Australian History and VELS but an attempt to sell texts….surely we have enough of that in the exhibition section. I left when the (official) sales rep started talking.
The best workshop was with Sebastepol College : they did an authentic learning experience with Sovereign Hill,and created a movie around a contention about Sovereign Hill (eg. “the chinese weren’t welcome on the goldfields”). Why do we always have curriculum units that are so dependent on particular places? This unit works because you have Sovereign Hill around the corner…could it have worked without that? What does this look like without Sovereign Hill? Despite this, it sounds really exciting! They have up to 3 classes per semester doing this project. Students really enjoy creating movies. They create scripts, a storyboard, negotiate authenticity. This workshop has challenged me to do more “hands on” stuff to re-enact historical events and ways of life.