Constructing history: selective representations of Indigenous Australians and British heritages in Queensland history curriculum

PhD Thesis


Sharp, Heather. 2010. Constructing history: selective representations of Indigenous Australians and British heritages in Queensland history curriculum. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Constructing history: selective representations of Indigenous Australians and British heritages in Queensland history curriculum

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorSharp, Heather
SupervisorAustin, Jon
Hickey, Andrew
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages528
Year2010
Abstract

History curriculum has in recent years been the topic of much public interest, from debates framed within the context of the recent history/culture wars to issues related to content and pedagogical approaches within the proposed national curriculum. Framed by this sustained
public, media and government interest in school curriculum; this project analyses Australian content present in textbooks and syllabus documents within the History curriculum in Queensland schools from three selected 20th century time periods. Historical periods were
selected to demonstrate the connection between public discourses and school History curriculum content, and illuminated through British heritages and Indigenous representations. The historical periods are characterised by two features: first, when major historical or social
events occurred within a short timeframe creating an identifiable shift in public discourses, and second, when a new or revised syllabus was implemented in Queensland government schools. Three specific areas of focus that meet the two characteristics listed above are: the
period just prior to and just after World War I (WWI); the Australian Black Movement 1964-1975; and the 1988 Bicentennial era. Each era is significant for quite divergent reasons, but with the common factor that they have each made a significant contribution to Australia’s
history, and in terms of constructions of national identity, continue to do so, they find place in
this thesis. They have each been examined through a selected exemplar topic dominant to the
era. The ideas of British heritages were in the case of the WWI era; Indigenous representations in the 1964-1975 era; and both British heritages and Indigenous representations in the 1988 Bicentennial era.

The methodological approach, in consideration of Michael Apple’s (1993, 2000) concept of official knowledge draws analysis from a selection of school texts using a bricolage approach encompassing Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), visual analysis strategies and historical methodology approaches. After an analysis of the school texts through a five stage process, this project concludes that textbook research is an important component in considering the
direction of History as a school subject, particularly in the current neo-conservative educational environment, including the construction and implementation of the proposed national curriculum. As Davis writes, 'I firmly believe that increased knowledge about textbooks can and will facilitate understanding of the actual school curriculum in practice' (2006, p. xi). This project, then offers a timely analysis of History curriculum from past eras through British heritages and Indigenous representations.

Keywordshistory curriculum; Queensland; Australian content; textbooks; Indigenous; British
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390107. Humanities and social sciences curriculum and pedagogy (excl. economics, business and management)
430302. Australian history
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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