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History begins with engaging storytelling. The past is full of fascinating surprises and every society has a strong need for meaningful stories about what came before us. History enables students to bridge the gap between the present and the past, and encourages students to pay close attention to historians’ methods and reasoning. Historical thinking focuses on the two most fundamental questions: How do we know what we know about the past, and what should we believe when we are confronted with two conflicting accounts of the same event?
In the Middle Years, the History program is designed to develop historical thinking with a focus on historical significance, cause and effect, empathetic understanding and contestability. Students engage directly in the problems of understanding the past by looking at the big questions through an inquiry-based approach. They grapple with historical evidence, deliberate and make interpretations. Communicating ideas is key and students have options to work with traditional or digital mediums. Encouraging historical thinking in the classroom deepens students’ understanding of past events and people, and reinforces the critical thinking skills necessary for them to participate in the world beyond school.
In Year 7, students are introduced to Historical content and concepts in the integrated English and History program. They are introduced to how historians use primary source evidence and the questions that the evidence might generate. Students gain an understanding of periodisation in the ancient world, which helps them to make sense of continuity and change. They also consider the importance of local, national and global heritage.
In Year 8, students are taken back to the Middle Ages in Europe and then through the consequences of human choices in the process of contact and colonisation of the New World and the South Pacific.
In Year 9, students look closely at the Making of the Modern World with an emphasis on the nature and extent of the movement of peoples and the emergence of modern industrial states such as Australia. Students investigate experiences of the Great War and the political, social and cultural development in the 1920s and 1930s.
Learning beyond the classroom is integral to the Middle Years History program. Experts in the fields of history, archaeology and anthropology are invited to facilitate workshops onsite or through digital technologies. Place-based learning occurs in university museums and historical sites around Sydney, or overseas in Asia and Europe through History Tours.