Asian perspectives to citizenship learning in the Australian history classroom

Year: 2019

Author: Chia, Yeow-Tong, Beard, Kieren

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

History, ever since its inception as a school-based subject, has consistently been associated with citizenship building and national identity. The primary goal of governments has been to use history in schools as a vehicle to teach a constructed national narrative through the inculcation of citizenship values. Moreover, it has been widely accepted for generations that the ultimate goal for history education in the classroom to forge ‘citizenship’. Due to Australia’s vested interests and geopolitical partnerships and interactions within Asia, it should be a prerequisite to reform and reconstruct a national narrative that is reflective of its current engagements. Existing discussion on Asian perspectives in Australian history education suggests some limitations in the historical thinking approach to history education. Pedagogically, the syllabus comprises of aims to encourage student interaction and vested interest in history. Specifically, within the syllabus, they aim to nurture Australian students as active, informed and responsible citizens. Previous efforts to embed Asian histories and perspectives into the history curriculum seem like an appendage or afterthought. However, recent changes have been positive, as the focus towards Asian understandings and perspectives are becoming more focal in not only the history discipline, but across many other subject areas. These will serve to benefit student learning and appreciation of the world through culturally responsive pedagogy; merging existing knowledge and perspectives with new understandings. Therefore, it is critical to initiate the amelioration of our national narrative; one that reflects and mirrors our present. We argue that whilst it is important to teach Asian history, it is equally important that Asian Australian history is not inadvertently neglected. Therefore, the reformation of the historical discourse must involve a dichotomy of the interwoven Australian-Asian histories. Beyond teaching and understanding Asian history, and the contributions of Asian Australians, there is a need to regard Asian-Australian history as a key part of Australian history. This can potentially be an enrich and deepen Australian multiculturalism. In instilling a sense of pride in the common past, history writing, and teaching of a nation’s history, will contribute to the strengthening and broadening of Australian national identity.