Pre-Service History Teachers, National Identity and Australian School Textbooks

  • Robert Parkes (Newcastle)
  • Wednesday, 30.09.2015, 5pm
  • Georg-Eckert-Institut, Celler Str. 3

For almost two decades, History education in Australia has been a site of struggle over collective memory of the colonial past. Conservative historians, politicians, and media commentators have been fighting to see an end to ‘black armband’ history – or what they see as an excessively mournful view of the past – and its replacement with what they argue is a more ‘balanced’, but usually celebratory, vision of the nation. The recent review of the Australian Curriculum: History, even before the new national curriculum has been fully implemented, is the latest sortie in this struggle, motivated by concerns over the place of the battle of "Gallipoli" in the curriculum, given its raised profile in this year’s centenary commemorations of WWI, and significance for national identity in the public psyche. This presentation will explore the place of “Gallipoli” as it manifests in Australian historical culture and contemporary political discourse, and share the findings of two related studies that have explored Gallipoli in school History textbooks and its construction in the narratives of the nation produced by 105 pre-service History teachers. It will share the extent to which revisionist histories have become commonplace, alongside a continued commitment by many pre-service History teachers to national mythology, particularly when it comes to Gallipoli and its construction as an origin story for the nation.