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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 ‘HTAA History Teachers Conference’

HTAA Conference: Keynote speaker, Prof Henry Reynolds

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 5, 2008

Day One began with Professor Henry Reynolds as Keynote Speaker, and he chose to address the themes of Aboriginal history, Australia’s history of involvement in international wars, and the complexities and contradictions inherent in these themes. As one might expect from the historian who has done more to bring Australia’s Aboriginal history into the spotlight than any other, he was keen to address the three sensitive points in this history: frontier violence, the Stolen Generations, and the Mabo/Wik decisions which rewrote our land laws in 1992 and 1996 respectively. He revisited the ‘history wars’ briefly, and reminded us that the official history written for incoming migrants once included references to these matters, and now does not. (See the full story about this in The Monthly).
He then went on to discuss the militarisation of Australian history during the Howard years. He alluded to new and extensive funding for more and more commemorations, memorials, student pilgramages to Anzac sites, and concern about the bodies of the dead soldiers, bordering on the obsessive in Vietnam. He also noted that the funding and extent of materials from the Department of Veterans Affairs was extraordinary, and – given the non-involvement of government in producing free curriculum resources in other areas – I agree! We have shelves and shelves of stuff from the DVA, most of it unused, because it isn’t appropriate for primary schools, and what makes me really cross is that these materials are exemplary – why can’t the wonderful people who develop them make similarly enticing resources for teaching about the Gold Rush, Federation, Settlement and so on? Why, asked Professor Reynolds, does every soldier have a well-tended grave, and our C19th pioneers do not?
We can’t have it both ways, he says. If we define war as integral to the birth of our nation, then how can we ignore frontier violence? If we believe that we should never forget the Holocaust and the ANZAC experience, why do we tell Aborigines to ‘get over it’? If we use public funding for war memorials, should we do the same for both black and white victims of frontier violence? And if dead bodies of soldiers are so important, how can we say to Aborigines that they should not worry about the treatment of Aboriginal remains? Shouldn’t we search for the Coniston Massacre bodies and bury them with a memorial too?
These are all very challenging issues for us to face, and there was spirited debate afterwards.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian History | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on HTAA Conference: Keynote speaker, Prof Henry Reynolds

History Teachers Conference, Brisbane, Sept-Oct 2008

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 1, 2008

Tim and I flew out to Brisbane in the second week of the school holidays to attend the History Teachers Association Annual Conference: Looking Back, Looking Forward, Looking Out. It was hosted by the Queensland History Teachers Association, and it is a measure of how well designed this conference was that Tim, not a teacher at all, attended some sessions as well, just because he’s interested in history!
We stayed at the Hotel Gloria in Carol Ave, about 20k out from the city centre, but thanks to Tim’s foresight in bringing the Navman we found it easily. It’s an ok hotel, but not having brewed coffee at breakfast was a bit of a hardship.
The conference was held in Daisy Hill at John Paul College, a splendidly resourced school which had the government school teachers among us muttering in envy. It was, however, an excellent venue, and their hospitality (and airconditioning!) was much appreciated.

Also much appreciated were the booksellers and trade displays, amongst whom VideoPro deserves a special mention. I liked the fact that they chose not to fill our ‘showbags’ with paper-wasting promotional brochures, but used instead the tools of our century and sent us their advertising by email instead – which meant I read it, instead of throwing it out. Not only that, they held quiz competitions using their Quizdom Clickers, and I was lucky enough to win a couple of bottles of wine!
It was also nice to meet up again with colleagues from the History Summer School in Canberra. There were only three participants from primary schools, and certainly no primary specific sessions for us, but what I found valuable was the opportunity to learn more about history generally – and especially Australian history – so that I can draw on it when teaching my classes. I’ll certainly be going again when the HTAA conference is held in Melbourne next year, and maybe the one in Alice Springs the year after that….

Posted in Australian History, Learning and teaching, Professional Development | Tagged: | 1 Comment »