As the Australian Curriculum: History is set out, there is a requirement to study an Asian society in years 7 and 8. However, in years 9 and 10, choices available make it possible to ignore Asian societies. For example, in Year 9, one can choose to complete the depth study, 'Making a nation' instead of investigating an Asian society. In Year 10, there is no specific Asian topic, although teachers could use Asian examples in other areas. It is useful to remind ourselves about how essential is the inclusion of Asia. The module Equipping yourself to teach about Asia provides background material on the Asia priority, as well as outlining the responsibility of education professionals like teachers to engage in professional learning.
This professional learning module is designed to assist teachers to develop:
- an understanding of key aspects of the Australian Curriculum: History
- an appreciation of the importance of developing Asian literacy in a history programme
- an understanding of the nature and role of historical literacy
- an understanding of what historical thinking is and what it might look like in the history classroom
- an understanding of some key aspects of the history of China/Western interaction from 1750 to 1918
The Asian focus here is China. The Australian Curriculum: History for Year 9 provides an opportunity to investigate one Asian country between 1750 and 1918 and China has been chosen for this module. There are opportunities in years 7 and 8 to investigate China, with Year 7 focusing on ancient China and year 8 on the Mongols, which includes the Mongol control of China.
Professional learning for history teachers should include constant re-assessment of what is happening in their classrooms and how this can be improved so that students engage meaningfully in the process of historical thinking.
Task 1: History teaching and historical thinking
One of the leading writers and thinkers on teaching history so that it has real meaning for students today is the Canadian, Peter Seixas. Your first task is to view a 30-minute video clip where Peter Seixas outlines what he describes as historical thinking. This clip is divided into three 10-minute segments which can be viewed below or on YouTube.
Seixas outlines what he considers the essentials of historical thinking and then he provides examples of student responses to several tasks. As you view these clips try to respond to the following:
- What does he understand by the term historical consciousness?
- How does he define historical significance?
- What does he mean by first order historical concepts?
- How does he define second order historical concepts?
- What are the six second order concepts he lists?
Seixas explores in more detail the idea of significance by explaining how he conducted a student activity where students were asked to list what they thought were the most significant events in history. He then explores the responses and the implications of these responses for history teaching.
Once you have completed this viewing, you will notice that five of Seixas' six second order concepts are reflected in the concepts in the Australian Curriculum: History. The curriculum provides a definition of these terms in the Glossary but this definition is limited and in some cases even problematic. The sixth concept, ethical dimensions, occurs in the General capabilities of the Australian Curriculum: History.
Task 2: Historical literacy and the general capabilities
Visit the Historical Thinking Project website where Seixas expands on these concepts and provides examples of tasks which reflect these. Record his definition of historical literacy (click on 'Concepts' to find this and follow links on the right where each of the concepts is explained). Read through them carefully and note down some key words or phrases to help you connect these to the activities in the upcoming unit of work.
Seixas' sixth concept, ethical dimension, is not one of the concepts outlined in the Australian Curriculum: History but it is one of the general capabilities, where it is organised under the following headings:
- understanding ethical concepts and issues
- reasoning in decision making and actions
- exploring values, rights and ethical principles.
See General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum, January 2013; and the General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum: History.
Further worthwhile pre-reading can be found on the National Centre for History Education website. In particular the paper, Historical literacy, will be referred to throughout this unit of work. It is quite lengthy but reading it is a worthwhile exercise.
Task 3: Revise/Renew your China history
One final pre-unit activity you may find worthwhile is a refresher course on China. If you have not studied China yourself or you think you need to brush up on aspects of China's history, the Harvard Extension School: China traditions and transformation provides a series of online lectures on aspects of China’s history. Each lecture is about 50 minutes long and is accompanied by a slide show which appears on your computer screen. The slides advance on your screen as the lecturer presses the advance button. You can select whichever of the various lectures you feel are the most relevant for you. This professional development module focuses on China from 1750 to 1918 so you may decide to focus on those lectures from Harvard.
Curriculum links: Australian Curriculum: History – Asia and the world, Year 9
The key concepts of continuity and change; cause and effect; evidence; perspective; empathy; significance; and contestability are incorporated in this module.
Several of the overview content sections will be incorporated into this depth study. The one which will form the key focus is the extent of European imperial expansion and different responses, including in the Asian region. If your year 9 depth studies do not include the Industrial Revolution, then there is an opportunity to touch on this through the investigation of Chinese/Western relations. A driving force behind the push for trade with China in the 18th and 19th centuries was the desire to sell the products of the recently industrialised West. Teachers may choose to outline some key features of the industrial revolution in this way.
While the Australian Curriculum: History does not include the migration of Chinese in its suggestions in the overview, the nature and extent of the movement of people, there is no reason why Chinese migration in the 19th and early 20th centuries cannot be included as part of this overview. Chinese migration in the second half of the 19th century to places like Australia and America had a significant impact on these societies and led to legislation in both countries to restrict Chinese migration. This migration was influenced by the political, social and economic conditions in China during the last decades of Qing rule.
This module addresses the depth study, Asia and the world, as outlined in the curriculum for Year 9. The teaching and learning sequences will address all sections of Asia and the world as outlined below:
- The key features (social, cultural, economic, political) of ONE Asian society (such as China, Japan, India, Dutch East Indies, India) at the start of the period (ACDSEH093)
- Change and continuity in the Asian society during this period, including any effects of contact (intended and unintended) with European power(s) (ACDSEH094)
- The position of the Asian society in relation to other nations in the world around the turn of the twentieth century (that is 1900), including the influence of key ideas such as nationalism (ACDSEH142)
- The significance of ONE key event that involved the Asian society and European power(s), including different perspectives of the event at the time (ACDSEH141)
Overview of the depth study
This depth study is divided into three topics.
Topic 1 (activities 1-3) engages students in an investigation into the British Government's Macartney mission to China in 1793. This section provides a series of source based activities for students, with suggestions for teachers and links to the Australian Curriculum: History identified for each part of the section. Completing this Topic will address Part 1 of the content areas from the curriculum listed above.
Topic 2 (activities 4-6) engages students in an investigation of the First Opium War 1839–1842 and the Treaty of Nanking.
Note: The Treaty of Nanking is a more dated version of Treaty of Nanjing.
Students again investigate the section through a series of source based activities with links to the Australian Curriculum: History identified. Students are invited to examine the changes which have occurred since the Macartney mission and to compare the nature of Qing rule in China and China/Western relations between 1793 and 1842. This section addresses Part 2 of the content areas of the curriculum listed above.
Topic 3 (activities 7-9) engages students in an investigation of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Students analyse sources to explore the causes of the Boxer Rebellion and the consequences, and links to the Australian Curriculum: History are identified. This section addresses parts 3 and 4 of the content areas from the curriculum listed above.
Each section begins with an investigation of a visual source, complemented by written sources and teacher resources. There are suggestions on how the sources could be investigated but teachers may well prefer to devise their own approaches. Teachers may choose to select from the activities provided if time is too short.
Chronological sequencing is one of the requirements of the Australian Curriculum: History document. Because the three sections above are organised as part of a three 'slices of time' approach, teachers may like to have their students keep track of the unfolding events by recording them on a timeline. Using a program like Dipity allows students to use ICT to keep a record of the key events as they go. It is a useful tool and their timelines are done online and can be added to as new events are explored. Teachers might like to add some key events in between the periods investigated. Events in other parts of the world (for example, the date of the first convict arrivals in Australia) might also be added to give students different points of reference.
The Australian Curriculum: History has the following statement about achievement standards by the end of Year 9. The student activities throughout this module will address all aspects of this statement. The final paragraph can be addressed by the assessment task teachers set. For this module, a variety of tasks is possible. Teachers might choose to have students investigate a selection of sources, either seen or unseen, and respond to a question/hypothesis using the sources. Teachers may also choose to have a series of short responses based on questions linked to specific sources. Another choice could be a research assignment where students investigate an event like the Boxer Rebellion in more detail and present their findings in a formal essay or as a multimodal response.
By the end of Year 9, students refer to key events and the actions of individuals and groups to explain patterns of change and continuity over time. They analyse the causes and effects of events and developments and make judgments about their importance. They explain the motives and actions of people at the time. Students explain the significance of these events and developments over the short and long term. They explain different interpretations of the past.
Students sequence events and developments within a chronological framework, with reference to periods of time and their duration. When researching, students develop different kinds of questions to frame an historical inquiry. They interpret, process, analyse and organise information from a range of primary and secondary sources and use it as evidence to answer inquiry questions. Students examine sources to compare different points of view. When evaluating these sources, they analyse origin and purpose, and draw conclusions about their usefulness. They develop their own interpretations about the past.
Students develop texts, particularly explanations and discussions, incorporating historical interpretations. In developing these texts, and organising and presenting their conclusions, they use historical terms and concepts, evidence identified in sources, and they reference these sources.Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
Before starting Topic 1, teachers should begin with an orientation task with students such as a KWHL chart on China or just a simple task of doing a quick 'around the class' word suggestion to note any words they immediately associate with China (for example the Great Wall, noodles). This ensures the teaching and learning sequence starts with what the students already know about China. This orientation task might also be directed at helping students reflect on the role of China in world history and the rather prickly topic of China's relationship with the West, the key focus of the teaching and learning sequence.
Teachers could encourage students to suggest a key question to guide an investigation of China/Western relations. Student suggestions could be discussed and an initial question adopted. The question which heads each section can then be seen as a focus question for each section.
A gateway to the teaching and learning of history in Australia's schools – includes the detailed presentation Historical literacy, one of the many useful resources on this Australian site, The National Centre for History Education website, www.hyperhistory.org
China: traditions and transformations – an extensive free video lecture course covering Chinese history from earliest to recent times. This is available as a video with accompanying slides as well as audio only. While it is too detailed for year 9 students, it provides excellent background for teachers, Harvard Extension School website, www.extension.harvard.edu
Dipity – a free digital timeline website, www.dipity.com
KWHL chart – an explanation and template, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria website, www.eduweb.vic.gov.au
The Australian Curriculum: History – Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) website, www.australiancurriculum.edu.au
The historical thinking project – directed by Peter Seixas at the University of British Columbia, Canada, promotes critical historical literacy and includes many excellent resources for teachers. Seixas has won world recognition for his approach to historical inquiry. This is a must-view site, The Historical Thinking Project website, historicalthinking.ca
'What is the shape and place of historical thinking in high schools?', Peter Seixas' presentation in Québec City at the Association for Canadian Studies Conference, 24 October 2008 is presented in three parts:
More useful websites
Asia for educators – Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University website, afe.easia.columbia.edu
A cornucopia of resources on China and Asia from Columbia University for students and educators at all levels. Make sure you click on Recording the grandeur of the Qing for an impressive education site built around primary sources to explore society and politics during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
Chinese account of the Opium War – Internet Archive website, www.archive.org
This is a digital copy of the full text of this 1888 account. Scroll down the page to find excerpts which can be easily produced for use as primary source material.
Territories of dynasties in China – Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia website, en.wikipedia.org
This map of China is an animated gif which shows the progression of territorial control through the dynasties. Students can gain a better appreciation of the extent and power of the Qing by comparing it to the extent of the Ming Dynasty which preceded it.
More print resources
Ropp, Paul S 1990, Heritage of China: contemporary perspectives on Chinese civilization, University of California Press, Los Angeles.
This book contains a number of essays on different aspects of Chinese culture. There is a particularly useful chapter titled 'Western perspectives of China' which teachers would find very helpful for this unit of work. Other chapters are also worth reading. For example the chapter on 'Modern Chinese social history' has much to recommend it for its identification of the changes in Chinese society over the historical period under investigation. While the book was published in 1990 and thus does not make comparisons or observations on most recent Chinese history, it nevertheless is well worth the read for its historical periods, going right back to China's earliest civilisation.
Walker, D 2012, Australia's Asia: from yellow peril to Asian Century, University of Western Australia Press, Western Australia.
A collection of essays on different aspects of Australia's relationship with Asian countries and with Asian communities in Australia. Whilst not dealing directly with the Qing Dynasty, this book is nevertheless useful for its essays on China's problems in the latter part of the 19th century which encouraged the migration of Chinese to America and Australia. There are excellent essays on the Chinese in Australia and the issues relating to immigration and settlement.