The history of Australia has been perceived to be repetitive and boring by some teachers and students (Harris & Bateman, 2008). The issue, them, has been to offer a curriculum which is not only engaging but also relevant. Harris and Bateman believe that this boredom stems from the fact that people have been made to develop notions of adaptation, non-conventional time, conventional, or operational time. The study of history then has been reduced to the study of time. The authors argued that the best approach is to teach history in a functional sense of time where students can view the past, the present, and the future through conflicting and intersecting narratives. The History Curriculum of Australia comprises academic content and lessons taught in schools. Teachers of history are expected to teach the lessons and content to learners. As a result, the curriculum document has positioned the teachers not only teach but also in the manner in which it treats the history of Australia. At a minimum, teachers are expected to build a strong sense of why it is very important to teach students about Australian history. The work of a history teacher is to impart knowledge to the learners. The curriculum guides the teachers on the kind of knowledge they need to impact on the learners. Before going to teach a history class, teachers need to be very conversant with the history of Australia. The curriculum lays out what the teachers ought to treat the history of Australia. It is impossible to present the content without having a conceptual understanding of the history of Australia. The curriculum has therefore also acted as a guide in which teachers can use to conceptualize how they can treat Australian history so that they can be effective in the teaching.
The content and the lessons guide teachers in the way they should treat the history of Australia. Those teaching in the early introduction to the history of Australia is expected to treat the history of Australia from the context of the personal world. This includes the learners history as well as where they belong to (ACARA, 2016). The curriculum position teachers to treat the history of Australia in its basic form. That the beginning of ones identity and sense of belonging is own heritage and place. Teachers of history are also positioned to consider the relevance of knowledge and understanding of the history of Australia. The curriculum has placed them in a position to deliver content and lessons to learners through key concepts such as perspectives, continuity and change, significance, and empathy so that they can develop a better historical understanding of the history of Australia. Through the curriculum, the teachers are also expected to appreciate that while some things have changed in the recent past, some other things have remained the same. The history of Australia is also best understood by reviewing the present and the past connections to people and places. These connections go beyond the past to incorporate connections between the diverse communities of the people of Australia and the world. To make better connections, the teachers ought to employ key concepts such as cause and effect, significance, place and space, continuity and change, perspectives and action, and interconnections.
As a history teacher, one ought to teach students about the history of Australia while referring to the diversity of communities and places and also the contribution made by the diverse communities. Australian communities are represented geographically and have always expressed themselves not only through civic participation but also culturally. Apart from the diversity and places, teachers ought to treat Australian history in the context of the Australian communities by looking at their past, their present, and their futures. For example, teachers need to be conversant with the social, political, environmental, and economic causes and effects in Australia during the colonial times. The document further suggests how teachers need to treat Australia in the context of sustainability in the past, the present, and the future. There is a need for teachers to view how ancient communities in various places and at various times contributed to the Australian sustainability regarding social, economic, and environmental activities.
History teachers need to be very well conversant of the nature of the Australian history as a domain of knowledge. Epistemological beliefs have been known to affect teachers approach to reading as well as understanding historical texts but also their instructional practices. If teachers have a shallow understanding of the conceptual foundations of history, they are likely to teach the wrong content by just simplifying it. If history teachers are also to make effective decisions pertaining curricular issues aimed at enhancing a strong student engagement in the history subject, they ought to have a thorough understanding of the conceptions pertaining the subject of history. To make reason and informed decisions regarding assessing, implementing and planning history instruction and curriculum, teachers need to build a very strong awareness on why history is taught (Yilmaz, 2008a). Further, such a teacher ought to have a clear conception of what history teaching in Australia should serve in the society and culture. Historical thinking skills are important to both the students and the teachers because the skills are applicable and transferable to everyday life and problems. Historical knowledge has multiple views of the past, and any event which took place in the past is subject to various interpretations. To teach history, Australian students, a history teacher must be in a position to treat and interpret Australia history in a manner consistent with what the curriculum document aimed to achieve.
Conceptions that teachers have about a particular subject or topic have been found to affect not only their pedagogical judgments but also their decisions (Yilmaz, 2008b). Evidence has shown that teachers conceptions are critical in framing how they evaluate, plan, and implement curricula. Following this observations, it has been pointed out that improvements in teaching are not much about mastery, teachers approaches to teaching or teaching techniques. Rather, it involves a lot about teachers conception of the nature of what he wish his students to learn.
An understanding of historiography has a positive impact on the teachers' treatment or interpretations of Australian History topics. A teacher who is well conversant with the history of Australia is capable of helping the learners to learn what is required to be learned. Such a teacher would be in a position to deliver the content on the history that needs to be taught, the content of knowledge that needs to be stressed in the curriculum, and his role in curriculum implementation. Further, a teacher with a deep understanding of the historiography has an edge when it comes to assessing, implementing, and designing instructional activities. Historical literacy helps the teacher acquire knowledge and understanding of the necessary skills, concepts, and processes which promote historical thinking among the students. It has been pointed about that historical literacy covers some topics which are critical to one teaching history. An understanding of historiography helps the teacher to teach students better about events which took place in the past, temporal as well as a spatial dimension in the past. Such a teacher will be in a position to understand not only historical events but also appreciate the significant changes which have taken place over time. It also helps teachers to relate spatial and temporal dimensions of the past. The ability to connect time and space and to relate both to the impact on human behavior is important to a history teacher. Narratives of the past and historical inquiry are very valuable skills which a history teacher need to possess to help the learners understand change and pose relevant historical questions. Further, historical literacy equips the teacher with the knowledge necessary to teach Australian history topics effectively. By using the right language of history, historical concepts, ICT understanding, and making connections. Students need to make links between the present and the past. To explain the history of Australia, the teacher needs to be good in making historical explanations, making moral judgments in history, representational expression and moral judgments in history.
History teachers need to be effective their teaching of history subject. Students are expected to develop skills in empathetic understanding, communication, analysis and use of sources, research, comprehension, and perspectives and interpretations (NSWET, 2010). They need to promote individual knowledge and skills which assist them to inquire historical events or periods whether they pertain indigenous or non-indigenous perspectives. Skills and knowledge which teachers need to promote include questioning, researching, analyzing, evaluating and reflecting, and communicating. All these skills and knowledge areas are very critical to helping students acquire an in-depth understanding of the subject of history. For example, to help students grasp the topic, teachers need to pose questions before an inquiry or after an investigation about a past event and how that past relates to the present situation. Further, questions help in the identification of concepts of historical thinking. Researching is also a skill and knowledge area teachers need to focus on. Researching not only helps in identification but also in the location of primary and secondary sources which support a historical inquiry. Students can also use the research skills and knowledge to order information about lives and developments of events over time. Besides, research skills are critical to collecting of evidence or information using techniques applicable to historical inquiry. The ability to analyze is critical during historical thinking where teachers are required apply relevant theories of historical thinking when interpreting evidence, information, phenomena, and events. A teacher with good analytical skills can also critique sources of information, their origins, reliability, usefulness, and purpose. The ability to evaluate and reflect is also an important skill needed in historical thinking whether one is proposing explanations or conclusions about the past as well as their relationships with the present. Evaluation and reflection skills also help a teacher to evaluate the usefulness of various sources during a historical inquiry. With high reflection skills, one can reflect on the past and predict any possible future changes or continuities. Lastly, communication skills are vital delivering the content, presenting findings, understanding of historical inquiry, and the use of relevant terms and concepts.
If learners are to build historical literacy, they need to employ certain strategies and resources. Teachers, therefore, need to help students to identify these strategies and resources. According to Huang (2012), there are six steps to teaching any skill. These measures include exposure, application, feedback, correction, repetition of steps 2-4, and mastery. In the context of teaching history, a student needs to be given some level of exposure on what he need to learn. Then he is taught how what he has been exposure to can be applied. Upon applying, the student is then given feedback on whether he is right or wrong. When the feedback suggests a failure to use correctly, the next step is to correct the student. The steps from application to correction are repeated until the student acquires mastery in what he is learning. Hattie, Biggs, and Purdie (1996) conten...
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