Our History, Our Complex World, Our Now!

Each year, the Humanities staff assemble at the commencement the year - it’s on that day, often hot and harried in late January, where a group of colleagues meet for the first time to discuss the intricacies of school life, the calendar, curriculum and the road ahead. The Humanities team of teachers is switched on and firing on all cylinders, and it isn’t long before we start talking about the Learning Area focus for the year.

Despite Humanities working across an array of studies - History, Politics, Business Management, Accounting and Legal Studies - I like to propose a theme that imbues our dealings with our classes and young people no matter the course content.

2024’s concept is ‘sorting fact from fiction in a complex world.’

As a Learning Area, we know that lingering at the cusp of all our work is the desire to assist students as they navigate this time and place. Whether they are reading a legal case study, discussing managerial styles or considering the causes of World War II, we hope to help them sort the real from the fabricated, the truth from the chaos.

In a world bracing for a sustained AI avalanche, this will become increasingly difficult, but we continue to try and sort.

With this theme in mind, Year 9 History students have been starting to think and write about their family’s origin stories as the basis for their study of key events in Australian History. In the following words, we can certainly see students sorting fact from fiction in a complex world as they retell stories passed to them from their own families. This is not AI-generated prose. It is not fake news from TikTok or a social feed, nor is it something they feel pressured to know the answer to by ‘Googling it’. This is fact and family-based information that cuts through the conjunction. These stories are something to treasure.

From the pens of Year 9s

‘History means quite a lot to me, especially knowing that history is what brought me and my family here today. The life-changing events that occur over time make us the way we are. Hearing my ancestors’ stories from their time just shows how much the world has changed over time but also shows me how important these events were. The fact that they remember every single detail shows that history really does change a lot.’

‘Stories are one of the biggest aspects of history and can be highlighted in many different ways, such as letters, drawings, images and teachings from someone. These stories are extremely important as they provide us with relevant information about the past. We are then able to explore how life was previously and issues that older generations faced and how they were dealt with.’

‘My Nonna migrated to Australia from Italy when she was 11. She came by a big ship with her whole family consisting of her parents, sister and brother because her mother’s family had migrated previously and with a bit of encouragement, they ended up moving. She came from a family that primarily spoke Italian and no English whatsoever so she had to learn English and as it is one of the hardest languages to speak, she found it really challenging.’

‘My Dad was born in Tehran, Iran. At the age of 13, just a year younger than I am now, he fled the country due to the signal that a war was going to commence in a few months. One morning my Dad woke up and turned on the TV as he would every morning, and all over the news were signs letting everyone know that a war was starting between Iran and Iraq. They were thinking of moving to Australia because it is surrounded by water, most likely to not get affected by the war. This makes up a big part of me because when my Dad came to Melbourne he didn’t know anybody, couldn’t speak English, and was moved into a whole different and new environment. This made me feel less worried when I had my own problems to deal with, because I always remember what my Dad had to go through, and it makes me feel more grateful because I now always think that what may seem like a really big deal, may not be as big as I think it is.’

Rosemary Jones
Humanities Learning Leader