Updated 19th August 2019 with some new ideas!
This year I’ve picked up both Year 9 HASS classes at my small site. The second depth study – Making a Nation – promised to be mind numbingly dull to deliver, with its focus on early Australian history and that thrilling topic ‘Federation’. I vaguely remember memorising mnemonics regarding the reasons for Federation during my 90’s high school career and entered into the topic with a heavy heart.
However I have to commend the Australian Curriculum in this area: the topic is now filled with enough blood and controversy to keep my middle schooler audience happy. Why didn’t we study Indigenous resistance fighters when I was in high school, I ask? Afghan cameleers in the outback are fascinating. Sure, the usual list of ‘key [white male] players’ is required to be covered and the events leading up to Federation (snore) but at least there’s some good stuff out there.
In fact there’s enough out there in the internet ether that I haven’t needed to resort to developing many resources myself. This page will collect the best of what I’ve found.
Australian students cover first contact, exploration, settlement, convicts and the Gold Rush in primary school years (from Year 4 onwards). Many resources available online target this age group and are simplistic. Although Year 9s cover similar territory, I felt the focus should be more on exploring bias, differing viewpoints and controversies. Another suggestion: avoid resources which describe Europeans ‘discovering’ Australia. These are outdated.
- History Wars: In early 2016, right-wing newspaper The Daily Telegraph attacked University of New South Wales’ guideline which recommended that education students to not refer to Europeans as the ‘discoverers’ of Australia, but rather as ‘invaders’. The frontpage article was widely ridiculed and led to articles around the world regarding Australia’s ‘history wars’. The conversation – around the article formed the basis for a great lesson and conversation.
– Video of discussion on the Today show
– ‘Why Australia lies to itself about its Indigenous history’ from Sydney Morning Herald, including a video of discussion on Sunrise. This one sided discussion inspired anger, especially from Indigenous actor Thelma Plum.
– ABC News article regarding the controversy and a similar article from SBS. These are useful because they are not locked behind paywalls.
– The Australian’s article regarding the controversy. This article is notably different from others in that it is supportive of the Daily Telegraph.
– Mammamia article which provides a reasoned outline of the issues around refering to Australia as being ‘discovered’ and not ‘invaded’. Notably, it also includes a link to Stan Grant’s riveting Australia Day speech.
– Stan Grant himself weighed in by suggesting that universities shouldn’t tell students how to think.
– Junkee article regarding the Daily Telegraph article which pokes fun.
– The UNSW Terminology guide in question and the Daily Telegraph article can be sourced here (note: swearing).
– Article from The Conversation UK which covers the historical inaccuracies of the Daily Telegraph article.
- Yagan: My students really engaged with the story of Noongar warrior and leader Yagan, who fought back against settlers in his homeland. His story would make a great film as it features misunderstandings, betrayal and loss. ABC commissioned a great documentary – Yagan (2013) – which tells parallel stories of Yagan’s life (through gritty recreations) and his family’s bid to have his head returned from England, where it had been sent 160 years ago as a ‘souvenir’. We watched the documentary on Clickview (which I don’t recommend – it was frustratingly jumpy and fuzzy), but a DVD can be purchased from The Education Shop. ATOM has a study guide for purchase here.
- Update 19th August 2019: Jandamarra’s War: Another really excellent docu-drama about the Frontier Wars is Jandamarra’s War. It’s very similar to Yagan, as in it is part documentary, part film. Jandamarra was a Bunuba man who grew up straddling the Bunuba world and the white stockman’s world. After being exiled, he led guerilla resistance attacks against white occupation. See trailer here. The advantage of this video over Yagan is that it is available to stream for free on Kanopy if your library has membership (SA Public Libraries do).
Changing map of Australia: I used this Wikipedia page to quickly throw together a worksheet where students had to cut / paste each map with its matching description. Took 20 minutes and isn’t too difficult. Gets kids reading and reasoning.
Worksheet: PDF / PPTX (original file for editing and answer sheet)
- Why Federate? I found this semi-roleplaying activity on TES and I’m going to give it a go tomorrow. Basically, the resource includes a series of roleplaying cards representing each colony. Students work through a series of questions and then report back to the class about whether their colony would vote for Federation or not. I’ll be using it as an intro to the reasons for Federation.