Letter to the Minister for Education
8 Nov 21
Please see below a letter that was sent by the HTAV Board to Victoria's Minister for Education, James Merlino.
8 November 2021
The Hon James Merlino
Minister for Education
Level 3, 1 Treasury Place
East Melbourne VIC 3002
The History Teachers’ Association of Victoria (HTAV) was heartened to read your comments regarding the draft Australian Curriculum for History, which is due for consideration by the Education Ministers this week.
Victoria’s History teachers are a diverse bunch. They include people of different ages, genders, cultural backgrounds and political views. They include people who were trained and continue to pursue professional learning in History, and people who are just starting out or who are teaching ‘out-of-field’. They include teachers in government, independent and Catholic schools, and in rural, regional and metropolitan areas.
What they have in common is that they are History teachers. This is a professional responsibility they take seriously. Their role is not to tell students what they should believe in or value, their role is to train students in a discipline that asks questions and examines evidence. When they do their job correctly, History teachers ensure that every student who passes through their classrooms understands that ‘contested interpretations’ of events are central to historical practice.
HTAV supports a curriculum that includes the history of Australia’s democratic traditions, the history of Australia’s First Nations peoples, and the history of ANZAC which has been vigorously contested and recontested for over 100 years. On each of these topics, professional History teachers will resist telling students what they should feel. They will encourage students to weigh the available evidence, acknowledge the multiple perspectives of the people who lived through those times, and draw their own conclusions.
If examining the evidence makes students feel proud of aspects of this country and inspired to safeguard what is good about it, that’s a good thing. If it makes them feel compassionate towards those who have suffered and inspired to change things for the better, that’s a good thing too. If it makes them capable of feeling both of these things simultaneously, that’s the best thing. That’s the kind of sophisticated, nuanced, critical thinking that democracies should treasure in their citizens.
HTAV appreciates your support for History teaching in the forthcoming meeting of Education Ministers. The History teachers of Victoria also hope to see their work supported, valued and respected in the next Education State strategy.
The HTAV Board