Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

Can history succeed at school? Problems of knowledge in the Australian history curriculum


Successful curriculum development in any school subject requires a clear and established set of elements: agreed and widely appreciated goals; effective criteria for the selection of important knowledge content; and an explicit and well-integrated explanatory base for authentic problem-solving related to the subject goals. The article shows that the history discipline faces particular challenges in meeting these requirements. The diversity of approaches to history complicates the task of establishing consensus around a clear set of goals. Its association in popular discourse with facts and narrative predisposes history to a descriptive approach, and is not helpful in clarifying the foundational ideas on which historical explanation is based. The article considers each of these issues and the extent to which they are resolved in the development of the Australian history curriculum. It concludes that these issues remain a challenge that could put at risk high-quality curriculum outcomes in history.

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