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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Posts Tagged ‘Australian History Resources’

New history unit for Years 1 & 2: Technology and Tradition (Toys and Games of the Past)

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 15, 2014

This week I’m working with my colleagues to develop our units for Even Years Term 3.  Today I worked with the Junior team to develop a history unit, and you can download it from the Goodies to Share menu:

Technology and Tradition (Toys and Games of the Past)


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New year 3 & 4 unit: Celebrations around the World

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 30, 2014

New Units

This week has been planning week and I have been working with teams of teachers to update existing units or write new ones for the Australian Curriculum (history and science).  We’ve also been tweaking these units to include more Deep Thinking activities.

Almost all our existing science units have been shelved in favour of the terrific Primary Connections units – the only things we have had to do is to restructure their scope and sequence plan to suit an odd/even years curriculum so that we can accommodate composite classes when we occasionally have them, and to audit the lesson plans for deep thinking activities and add more/substitute when needed.

The new history curriculum has meant much more work than this, and our program of integrated units is still a work in progress.  However this week, thanks to a great team of teachers (Deb, Adam, Louise and Sally) we have completed Celebrations around the World for Years 3 & 4.  It’s designed to cover ACAR’A’s Year 3 history content:

Celebrations and commemorations in other places around the world; for example, Bastille Day in France, Independence Day in the USA, including those that are observed in Australia such as Chinese New Year, Christmas Day, Diwali, Easter, Hanukkah, the Moon Festival and Ramadan (ACHHK064)

Y3&4 Celebrations Around the World Even Years Sem 1

Please bear in mind that this unit was written from scratch and has not been trialled yet.   We’d be interested to receive any feedback about it, and we welcome any resources that you are willing to share.

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New year 5 & 6 ANZAC unit: Indigenous War Service

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 28, 2014

New Units

Indigenous War Service: this unit is (with permission) adapted from Indigenous Service, a resource for primary schools published by the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

Please note that I have changed some of the activities and worksheets to allow for more deep thinking and more use of thinking tools.  I will develop the resources for these as I need them, and plan to upload them here, but if I forget feel free to remind me with a request using the comments box below.

Please note also that the unit as planned by the original authors is very comprehensive and would take two terms to teach in a typical one-hour per/week library program.  So I have split the unit in half, with the first three investigations being taught in even years and the other three in odd years.

Finally, note that this unit is part of our whole school ANZAC scope and sequence plan which you can find here.

PS I’m also going to whip up a lesson or two about Jandamurra (1873-1897), the Kimberley warrior and indigenous patriot who tried to defend his country against European settlement in the 19th century.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian History, Indigenous Teaching Resources, School Library Units of Work | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on New year 5 & 6 ANZAC unit: Indigenous War Service

Book Review: Kitty’s War, by Janet Butler

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 15, 2013

Kitty's WarSomewhere in the archives of the War Memorial in Canberra, there is a small diary scribbled in pencil. It was donated by The Spouse’s family because old Eric was a gunner in the 7th Field Artillery Brigade and he was awarded the Military Medal in The Great War. Before he lost his leg in the conflict he recorded his impressions of the first tanks to arrive on the battlefield so it’s a most interesting document. Transcribing this diary is an eventual retirement project for The Spouse.

We had always thought that this would be a fairly straightforward task, but now that I have read Kitty’s War by Janet Butler, I realise that there is much more to a war diary than first meets the eye. What’s not in a war diary can be just as interesting as what’s in it… and what’s in it, is sometimes not much about war at all, but rather about changes in identity because of the war.

When Kitty McNaughton sailed away to do her bit as a nurse, she, like most of the other volunteers aboard, had never been out of Australia. The war (which everyone expected to be over soon) was an opportunity to see the world, and she devotes many pages to describing the journey. The troops and nurses were ferried to Egypt on the troopship Orsova, which was formerly a passenger liner. So this young woman enjoyed all the excitements that are common to cruise ships today: games and sports, fancy dress parties, a crossing-the-line ceremony, fancy dinners and so on. But there is no mention of any serious flirting because nursing was still cultivating a respectable image to counter Dickens’ Sarah Gamp. Kitty was always conscious that her diary was going to be read by others, especially her mother, and she is circumspect about what she writes.

That’s why, later on, when she’s nursing on the island of Lemnos, when she writes about the four young men who became important to her, she always refers to them as ‘boys’ or ‘youths’, and she always records the presence of some other person, making it clear that she is never alone with a young man. She is careful to adopt a sisterly tone, sometimes maternal, never romantic. Reading between the lines, we wonder what her feelings were, especially when we know that for most of the young men thrust into relentlessly all-male company for long years in that war, that mateship offered no outlet for emotional release. Men could talk about their feelings to women, but not to each other…

What’s also noticeable is that she doesn’t write much about the shocking injuries she encounters. Butler says that this is because Kitty feels constrained by her audience: these horribly mutilated young men often dying in dreadful pain were the husbands, sweethearts, brothers and sons of her friends and family back home. So, like others reporting to those at home both formally and informally, she maintains the conspiracy of silence about their suffering in order to protect them from the awful truth. It is when she is nursing German soldiers on the Somme that she finally feels able to write about the horror of what she witnessed, because they are Other, and she can describe their injuries and how their needs were addressed.

What is also most interesting about this period, is that for the first time, she indirectly acknowledges her own skills. A modest and self-effacing nurse had to be careful about this, because it was not thought seemly for women to have ambitions beyond their gender-assigned roles. It was in reading the passage below that I realised the importance of documents such as Kitty’s dairy being interrogated by an historian:

I have eleven with their legs off and a cuple [sic] ditto arms & hips & heads galore & the awful smell from the wounds is the limit as this Gas Gangrene is the most awful thing imaginable, a leg goes in a day. I extracted a bullet from a German back today, and I enjoyed cutting into him … the bullet is my small treasure, as I hope it saved a life as it was a revolver one… (p.130)

Now when I first read this I recoiled at the idea that Kitty ‘enjoyed cutting into him’ – to me it felt as if she was enjoying a sort of vengeance against the enemy. But what Butler’s analysis reveals, from looking at the diary in its entirety and comparing it with a host of other documents and diaries, is that what Kitty is enjoying is being entrusted with the scalpel and being allowed to perform procedures that traditionally were the sole preserve of male doctors. To read Kitty’s self-effacing diary at face value without realising that it deliberately undercuts her own achievements is to overlook that Kitty was in fact a very good nurse indeed: she received commendations; she was mentioned in dispatches; she was in sole charge of the whole Bosches Line of German wounded (more than one huge ward of very serious cases); and she was allowed to undertake surgical procedures as well.

What is also revealed by this rare documentation of the suffering of the German soldiers is that it offers Kitty emotional release. She describes her distress at the confronting injuries and the pitiable state of soldiers arriving with maggot-infested wounds, an outlet which is promptly closed when Allied soldiers arrive and she no longer gives herself permission to write about them.

Butler analyses the Conscription Referendum in terms of how it impacted away from home; the class issues including the hostility from Imperials to Colonials; and the decline of the ‘war diary’ from a place to share matters of interest to its role testifying to grief and despair. The appearance of gaps, when for long periods of time Kitty can find nothing of interest to write about, signals that the relentless tide of the wounded is contributing to what we would now call stress. When she is on the Western Front after the Somme, Kitty and her friends succumb themselves to illness, and she openly acknowledges it, perhaps in part because her own mother has died and she longer feels that she has to hide her suffering. (There is a remarkable pair of photos in the book that shows the impact of this ongoing stress on Kitty’s appearance. The nurses joke that first their hair goes, then their teeth and then their reputations, but it was true: the bad diet and the appalling conditions made Kitty’s hair go grey while she was still only in her thirties.)

While close female friendships were nurturing and supportive, they could not salve the ongoing stress entirely. This is especially true when Kitty is transferred to a clearing station near the front line, where the nurses are carefully chosen for their suitability and monitored for signs of strain. Where the official histories make no mention of the fact that the nurses are much closer to danger, Kitty and other nurses write about it in detail. She has to undergo gas training before the transfer, and we know from the diaries of other nurses that their clothes stank afterwards of the gas. Kitty also records shelling, missiles falling into the camp and the crash-landing of two allied planes in the field beside it, but she does not record her own bravery, as for example when she is ordered to fall back because of an impending German attack and refuses to go. Yet there is a striking absence of any commentary about the sick and wounded, at a time when the casualty rate is shocking. Medical officers reporting to their professional journals provide information about the horrific situation that is omitted from Kitty’s diary, and the testimony of a Matron O’Dwyer confirms that nothing – not even experience at the base hospitals further back from the front line – could prepare nurses for what they were to encounter at a clearing station. But Kitty’s experiences here are at war with the identity she has crafted for herself within this diary: as a tourist, a recorder of culture and a chronicler of the affairs of women, of family and of Anzac glory. (p. 181) In her four months at this clearing station, she does not know how to write about the relentless flood of seriously wounded men in pain.

There is so much more that I could write about this brilliant book but I will confine myself to recommending that if you read just one book about the ANZAC experience, it should be this one. Butler’s humane analysis covers much more than just the experience of one woman at war, and the issues raised by this book have been the subject of many conversations with friends and family while I’ve been reading it.

The book includes B&W photos of Kitty, comprehensive notes, a select bibliography and an index.

The launch at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance was a slightly more sombre affair than other book launches I have been to. Held in the visitor’s centre, proceedings began with a recitation of the Ode of Remembrance, and the book was launched by Colonel Jan Mc Carthy ARRC (retd) from the army nursing service. Many of the people there were descendants of Kitty McNaughton who shared the author’s pride that the story of this remarkable young woman has been told at last.

Highly recommended  for teachers of Australian History, teachers teaching on the topic of War, and teachers teaching Gender Studies.

Author: Janet Butler
Title: Kitty’s War
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press) 2013
ISBN: 9780702249679
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP, and autographed on the night by the author!


Fishpond:Kitty’s War

Or direct from UQP.

Cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers

Posted in Australian Curriculum, Australian History, Book Reviews, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Book Review: Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders by Jean Fornasiero, Peter Monteath and John West-Sooby

Posted by Lisa Hill on March 7, 2012

I have cross-posted this book review from my ANZ LitLovers blog because I think it belongs in every secondary school library, and every teacher of Australian history at any level should read it!

Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew FlindersMaybe it’s because I did all my childhood international travel by ocean liner that I am so fascinated by the early voyages of discovery? Perhaps there is something about being surrounded by the vastness of the world’s oceans when you are indeed very small yourself that creates a lasting sense of awe about sea voyages? I still remember the sense of excitement at the prospect of land after weeks at sea and now that I know just how many ships came to grief along the Shipwreck Coast off southern Australia I feel a sense of gratitude to the builders and designers of all kinds of maritime safety devices from radar to lighthouses to John Harrison’s marine chronometer. I cannot begin to imagine what courage it took to set sail before these things were invented, the more so when the destination was unknown, an uncertain guess-line on a map…

The Dutch came first, naming the west coast New Holland:

New Holland 1659 map prepared by Joan Blaeu (Source Wikipedia Commons)

New Holland 1659 map prepared by Joan Blaeu (Source Wikipedia Commons)

and William Dampier was the first Englishman to make landfall (see my review of Adrian Mitchell’s terrific book, Dampier’s Monkey)

William Dampier's map 1699 (Source Wikipedia Commons)

and as every school-kid knows the ‘missing’ east coast was filled in and claimed as New South Wales for Britain by the voyage of Captain Cook in 1770. But nobody knew that Tasmania was an island or whether the east and west coasts were joined. These missing links in the map of Australia were filled in by explorers both British and French, the most notable of whom were Matthew Flinders who is credited with the first circumnavigation of Tasmania and the first circumnavigation of Australia, and Nicolas Baudin who is credited with being the first to explore the western coast. It was also Matthew Flinders who resolved the conflicting names of our continent by suggesting ‘Australia’ – a politically neutral choice originally resisted by Joseph Banks but the one that triumphed in the end.

Encountering Terra Australis is a beautiful book: it’s obviously thoroughly researched and academically impressive but it’s printed on expensive paper and has many full colour and B/W reproductions of lovely artworks made on the voyage to entice the general reader. The first chapter ‘The Lure of the South’ traces the antecedents of these two voyages so significant to the history of Australia. It explains the rivalry between France and Britain, and illuminates the behind-the-scenes persuasions that facilitated funding for the expeditions. But it also makes a case for recognition that the meetings of these men – who were motivated by personal ambition and scientific curiosity –

were marked by cordiality and respect. The ugly international politics of their day should by rights have pulled them apart, but the spirit of science that drove them both on long and dangerous voyages united them. If there is much in the stories …that gives expression to the bitter rivalries of their day, there is also in the character of these two remarkable men a nobility of spirit that both defines their age and transcends it. (p13)

In this period Britain and France were imperial adversaries. Napoleon was rampaging around not just in Europe, and the Brits were keen to recover from the loss of the American colonies in 1783. There were clear economic and military advantages – not to mention world prestige and one-upmanship – in extending dominions into the unknown southern stretches of the globe, but the men who led these expeditions were inspired by the Enlightenment. Flinders prided himself on his skill as a map-maker contributing to world knowledge, and Baudin’s interest was that of a scientific voyager and chronicler. Both were more interested in the discoveries they might make than in making geo-political gains for their respective empires. The achievement of Encountering Terra Australis is that the authors analyse the foibles, flaws and merits of these men to ensure that their reputations are based on the historical record and to give them their rightful place in the history of exploration and science.

Nicolas Baudin, Albany WA

Nicolas Baudin was the French explorer who in 1801 first mapped the western coast of Australia, and part of the southern coast. His expedition consisted of two ships, the Géographe and the Naturaliste, nine zoologists and botanists, and under his leadership 2500 new species were discovered. In 1802 – astonishingly in the middle of an apparently desolate stretch of coastline now known as Encounter Bay – he met up with the English explorer Matthew Flinders who in the Investigator was also charting the coastline. But there were no hostilities. Quite the contrary: despite the language barrier, they shared information and maps and each of them recorded the encounter in journals which show that they not only respected but liked each other. (And it must have been no small thing to make a copy of a map by hand overnight…)

Flinders went on to become pre-eminent in the history of Australian maritime exploration while Baudin’s legacy has been less valued. This was in part because of the strained personal relationships that he had with his men and I find it interesting to note that the history of successful exploration is so often a matter of temperament (something Patrick White explored in Voss.) While Flinders had his flaws, it was Baudin who had difficulties with the ship’s company in general and his rival, Péron, in particular. Baudin’s premature death left Péron to misrepresent the expedition’s aims and accomplishments, and in order to further his own grandiose ambitions back in France, he denigrated Baudin with the effect of delaying recognition of his legacy until comparatively recent research. So although Flinders had all kinds of difficulties, including having to cool his heels in a Mauritian prison for seven years on the way home because the French thought he was a spy, he has had the better press and is better known.

King Bungaree, chief of the Broken Bay tribe, N.S. Wales, died 1832 by Charles Rodius, used by persmission of the National Libary of Australia, Digital Image Collection no 8953976

I learned all kinds of interesting snippets from this book. From the chapter entitled The Clash of Cultures I discovered that there is anthropological evidence that news of the arrival of ‘strange new people in bright and colourful uniforms’ travelled astonishing distances across from the west to central Australia in song and corroboree. I now know the name of the first Aborigine to circumnavigate Australia: Bongaree (or Bungaree). I discovered that Coffin Bay owes its macabre name not to any unfortunate deaths but to the convention of naming places after potential sources of patronage, whereas Catastrophe Bay was so named because the Investigatorlost eight crewmen there, including Flinders’ great friend John Thistle. I learned that ten convicts got a free trip home and a pardon because Flinders was short-handed after the disaster at Catastrophe Bay and he hired them for the return journey to England. And I was reminded once more how the search for potable water put constant limitations on any voyage of discovery: it’s heavy and it takes up space so a ship can’t carry too much of it. Sometimes, just when things are getting interesting, a ship must turn around to where there is a known water supply rather than risk running out of it….

One thing these great navigators had in common was that both of them had their disappointments. Both sailed within coo-ee of the mouth of the Murray River but never saw it; Flinders missed the mouth of the Brisbane and Clarence Rivers too. Baudin missed the entrance to Port Phillip Bay as well while Flinders managed to sail through its perilous heads thinking he was the first to find it – but in fact John Murray had already done so, and named it mere months beforehand.

The authors do not shy away from reflecting on the role of these explorers in what came to be Aboriginal dispossession. There is a whole chapter about how these visitors were at pains to avoid conflict with the indigenous people, and how when misunderstandings arose, both Baudin and Flinders sought to rationalise them as errors of understanding not malice. But – beyond the whole issue of how opening up the continent meant inevitable European settlement – both explorers conformed to the tradition of naming places that already had indigenous names, and both helped themselves to game such as kangaroo without consideration of the needs of nomadic hunter-gatherers, even though they noticed that some of them were skinny.

Both expeditions included artists engaged to make studies of flora, fauna and the landscape (and there is a whole fascinating chapter about that) but they were to some extent captive to their own preconceived ideas about indigenous peoples. On the one hand there are precious portraits, scraps of language and records of cultural practices and artefacts of Tasmanian Aborigines from tribes now lost – but on the other hand some of the portraits are representations that bear more relationship to Greek statuary than to any real person. Careless acts such as the desecration of Aboriginal tombs by the Baudin Expedition on Maria Island are noted, and there was also a disconcerting incident in the Gulf of Carpentaria when friendly relations turned sour and – contravening Flinders’ orders – an Aborigine was shot. Under Flinders’ command there was no punishment for those responsible, as there should have been.

Interesting as the all these facts are, what made this book work for me was the voices of Baudin and Flinders. The translations by Jean Fornasiero are flawless and it is a delight to read the impressions of these brave and dedicated men in their own words. My favourite is this one, from Flinders, about the future of Sydney:

Amongst the obstacles which opposed themselves to the more rapid advancement of the colony, the principal were, the vicious propensities of a large portion of the convicts, a want of more frequent communication with England, and the prohibition to trading with India and the western coasts of South America, in consequence of the East-India-Company’s charter. As these difficulties become obviated and capital increases, the progress of the colonists will be more rapid; and if the resources from government be not withdrawn too early, there is little doubt of New South Wales being one day a flourishing country, and of considerable benefit to the commerce and navigation of the parent state. (p200)

The first edition of Encountering Terra Australis won the Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book Prize in 2004, and Daniel Fazio at the Australian Public Intellectuals Network found this book ‘engrossing, very readable and superbly illustrated’ . It deserves to be widely read, and not just by historians.

PS In the course of looking for an image of the map that Flinders started out with, I came across a terrific ABC site called The Navigators which includes amongst other things, an interactive map of Flinders’ circumnavigation of Australia in 1802-3.

Authors: Jean Fornasiero; Peter Monteath, and John West-Sooby.
Title: Encountering Terra Australis: the Australian voyages of Nicholas Baudin and Matthew Flinders
Publishers: Wakefield Press, 2011 (Second edition, first published 2004).
ISBN: 9781862548749
Source: review copy courtesy of Wakefield Press

Availability: Fishpond: Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders
or direct from Wakefield Press. (You can buy it as an eBook there too, but then you’d miss out on the gorgeousness of the book!)

Posted in Australian History, Book Reviews | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Book Review: Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders by Jean Fornasiero, Peter Monteath and John West-Sooby