Perspectives on the politics of a national History curriculum

Symposium at the Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), Adelaide 1-5 December 2013.

History education has been a focus of political debate in Australia since the early 1990s. The debate has been popularly dramatized as the ‘History Wars’, and seems to have become an on-going feature of the cultural landscape. Considered to be a crucible for the development of national identity, History as a school subject is regularly an area of media attention, government disquiet, and a site of struggle over collective memory and cultural literacy. The development of a national History curriculum can be viewed as both an outcome of, and intervention into, this debate. This symposium provides multiple perspectives on the Australian Curriculum: History, drawing together empirical work that has explored teachers’ understanding and perspectives of the ideological implications of history teaching; with critical analysis of the extent to which the national curriculum has been able to entertain and adopt global perspectives on the past; and in response to recent conservative concerns, philosophical exploration of the problem of ‘Gallipoli’ in the national historical and political consciousness, using a Nietzschean framework for thinking about the uses and abuses of historical discourse.