Remembering Australia’s Past [ RAP ]

Project Leader: Dr Robert Parkes
Principal Researchers: Dr Debra Donnelly, Dr Heather Sharp, Dr Josephine May, Dr Catherine Hart, and Dr Paul Zanazanian.

Project Description:
This project aims to explore what pre-service History teachers know, understand, and believe is important about Australia’s past. Australia has experienced two decades of public struggle over the national narrative; concerns over whose history is being taught in schools; reports that teachers and school students find Australian history of little interest; and anxieties over what the public knows about the nation’s past. Much of the concern has been driven by survey research that expects an encyclopaedic knowledge of the past. Using an open-ended narrative methodology, this study seeks to find out what participants do know and imagine about the nation’s past when given the opportunity to tell Australia’s history in their own words. The project draws upon a generative research methodology developed by Professor Jocelyn Létourneau (2006) and used over the past decade to investigate the historical consciousness of over 4,000 young French Canadians [See www.tonhistoireduquebec.ca for more details on the Canadian work that inspired our project]. Pioneered in Québec, the methodology has been appropriated by numerous scholars throughout Europe. Létourneau’s method involved approaching a room of participants with the invitation to “Please present or account for the history of Québec since the beginning, the way you see it, remember it, or understand it”. The RAP project seeks to adapt this methodology for an Australian pilot project. Currently, over one-hundred narratives have been collected from first-year pre-service History teachers, and the Research Team is in the process of analysing these narratives for what they tell us about the historical consciousness of pre-service history teachers.

Note: This project is funded through the Faculty of Education and Arts Strategic Networking and Pilot Projects Scheme, at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

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