I see that the History Teachers Association of Australia has raised questions about the primary school component of the proposed national history curriculum. Good on them. As a member of the Heidelberg Historical Society, I had a brief peek at the consultation draft which recommended that local history be introduced at primary school level. I had no problem with the idea of arousing children’s curiosity about the street, suburb and town in which they live, but the “core components of historical understanding” seem to be a trifle…um….optimistic?
How does this sound for an 8-12 year old?
“examine and critically assess the value of available primary and secondary sources, study human motivation, develop an understanding of viewpoints held by the people of the past, and recognize causal relationships between events and draw conclusions about their historical investigations”.
Have the stages of conceptual development suddenly been thrown out the window?? What happened to my good friend Piaget?? The last time I spoke to an 8-12 year old (which, admittedly, has not occurred recently), I was not particularly struck with their insight into human motivation.
And to be honest, I’m still grappling with these core components with historical understanding today. Perhaps I need to find a 9 year old to show me how.