Classroom Perspectives on Australia's Contact History

Allen and Unwin
Publication Type:
Historical Thinking for History Teachers A New Approach to Engaging Students and Developing Historical Consciousness, 2019, 2019, pp. 279 - 29823
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As a young, passionate teacher of history, the beginning of my understanding of what was missing from our nation's historical record occurred at a History Teachers' Association of Australia (HTAA) conference in Darwin in 1982. It was there that my eyes were opened to the 'other side of the frontier' as I listened to Aboriginal women tell of the search for their stolen children, and to Aboriginal men tell their stories of being taken away as children and the anguish of the search for their mothers, their families, their country. I returned to my classroom in my city high school dumbfounded that this aspect of our Australian story had not been part of my school or university education in the 1970s. The significance of the Stolen Generations came home to me most clearly in early 1984 when I gave birth to my first child, a little girl called Emma. I pondered with total horror the idea that some government official would dare take my child away for no other reason than my race. It left an indelible impression on my role as a teacher of Australian history. As a non -Aboriginal person teaching in mainstream classrooms, I realised the need to ensure that the experiences and voices of Aboriginal peoples were heard. It became a journey of discovery and learning as I sought to work with Aboriginal education officers and reach out to Aboriginal community networks around Sydney to try to incorporate their stories into my classes.
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