To effectively teach a curriculum unit within a primary school context, teachers require the skill and understanding to successfully integrate and apply subject content knowledge, curriculum knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. The Australian Curriculum: History provides the framework by which teachers develop students’ historical knowledge, understanding and skills. It is through History education that students learn to understand and use historical concepts to appreciate the influence of past events on society through the process of historical inquiry (Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014).
Historical learning in Year 3 focuses on the content of community and remembrance, whereby students have the opportunity to identify and explore past events that are commemorated each year in Australia (ACARA, 2014b). Exploring the historical topic of ANZAC Day provides students with the opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding regarding the concepts of significance ad continuity and change. Phillips (2002) asserts that the concept of significance can be characterised by the importance of the event to the people at the time and the affect the event has had on people’s live. Students are able to develop an understanding of continuity and change through the study of regular commemorative events such as ANZAC Day (Hoepper, 2014). The Australian Curriculum Humanities and Social Sciences-History: Scope and sequence (ACARA, 2012) document supports opportunities for students to develop an understanding of these concepts through exploring the question How and why do people choose to remember significant events of the past?
Teachers that possess a thorough knowledge of historical subject matter regarding the topic of ANZAC Day are able to confidently design authentic learning experiences, utilise appropriate resources, respond to student questioning and actively participate in classroom discourse (MacNamara, 1991). Developing a learning sequence that focuses on the commemoration of ANZAC Day requires an understanding of the reasons for the commemoration, knowledge of Australia’s involvement in World War 1
, the topic of Gallipoli and features of the annual commemorative ceremony (Australian War Memorial, 2014). Reitano and Green (2013) support the notion that history teachers need to have sufficient subject knowledge in order to teach history effectively and support student learning. An understanding of appropriate pedagogical content knowledge applicable to History education enables the teacher to employ a range of strategies that facilitate inquiry-based learning. Schulman (1986) asserts that pedagogical content knowledge involves understanding that students bring diverse conceptions and experiences into the classroom. Therefore, the teacher must employ a range of strategies and representations in order support the development of historical conceptual understanding of significance and continuity and change when considered within the context of ANZAC Day.
Reynolds (2012) asserts that students acquire historical skills, knowledge and understanding when learning is linked to meaningful and relevant interests within the local community. For example, visiting the local war memorial or interviewing a local returned serviceman provides a local perspective on the significance of ANZAC Day. The use of artefacts and photographs, for example memorial Boxes from the Australian War Memorial, visits to museums, role-play activities and storytelling provide context to student learning and cater for diverse learning needs (Reynolds, 2012). Investigating significant commemorative events such as ANZAC Day from a local perspective enables students to consider change and continuity through connecting the past with the present.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2012). The Australian Curriculum Humanities and Social Sciences-History: Scope and sequence. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Darren%20Kirby/Downloads/Australian%20Curriculum%20(7).pdf
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014a). The Australian Curriculum: History: Aims. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanitiesandsocialsciences/history/Aims
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014b). The Australian Curriculum: History. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanitiesandsocialsciences/history/Curriculum/F-10#level3.
Australian War Memorial (2014). The ANZAC Day tradition. Retrieved from https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/
Hoepper, B. (2014). History in the Australian Curriculum. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 175-195). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.
MacNamara, D. (1991). Subject knowledge and its application: problems and possibilities for teacher educators. Journal of Education for Teaching, 17(2). 113-128.
Phillips, R. (2002). Historical significance – the forgotten key element. Teaching History, 106. 14-19.
Reitano, P. & Green, N. (2013). Beginning teachers’ conceptual understandings of effective history teaching: examining the change from “subject knowers” to “subject teachers”. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 41(2), 197-217.
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press
Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2). 4-14.
World War 1 Soldiers. [Image 1]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/red-tape-over-australian-wwi-soldiers-uncovered-in-france/story-e6frea6u-1226042442621
World War 1 Soldiers. [Image 2]. (2013). Retrieved from http://1914centenary.com/2013/11/11/former-australian-pm-says-world-war-i-devoid-of-virtue/comment-page-1/
World War 1 Poster. [Image 3]. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.anzacday.org.au/education/afor/afor-e.html