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Historical skills

The Historical skills strand of the Australian Curriculum: History promotes a set of skills for the teaching and learning of history, including skills associated with: 

  • chronology, terms and concepts
  • historical questions and research
  • analysis and use of sources
  • perspectives and interpretations
  • explanation and communication.

These skills are interrelated with the Historical knowledge and understanding strand and should be taught in an integrated manner.

Some examples of how to develop these skills when teaching Asia-focused history are provided below.

Chronology, terms and concepts Historical questions and research

This skill involves sequencing, making connections, and understanding and applying concepts and terminology. Asia examples could involve students:

  • mapping the development and spread of Hinduism or Buddhism on a timeline, as in The spread of Hinduism in Southeast Asia and the Pacific
  • defining the term ‘feudalism’ as it applied in ancient Japan (Yr.8), as in Feudal Japan
  • using terms such as ‘imperialism’, ‘nationalism’ and ‘White Australia’ (Yr.9)
  • sequencing Australian government immigration policies and making connections to immigration trends (Yr.10).

This skill requires identifying questions to shape an inquiry and locating suitable resources for research. It could involve:

  • posing key questions like ‘What was daily life like in Ancient China?’ and related questions like ’What can we learn from the Han tombs?’ (Yr.7)
  • listing and locating resources that could be used for an inquiry into the Angkor/Khmer Empire (Yr.8), as in Angkor Wat bas-relief carvings
  • developing questions like ‘What impact did the Immigration Restriction Act have on Australia’s relationship with Japan?’ (Yr.9)
  • compiling historical sources to investigate the experiences of Indochinese refugees who arrived as a result of the Vietnam War (Yr.10), as in Vietnam War 1962–75
Analysis and use of sources Perspectives and interpretations

This skill relates to working with primary and secondary sources. It could involve students:

  • asking who, what, when, why questions about the Pillars of Ashoka to ascertain their significance (Yr.7), as in Ashoka and the Mauryan Empire
  • classifying sources related to the Mongols to identify which aspect of an investigation the source relates to (Yr.8), as in Mongol expansion
  • analysing artworks of the Dutch East Indies to ascertain their usefulness and reliability as historical sources (Yr.9)
  • analysing cartoons from the 1900s to explore Australian attitudes to Asian nations and peoples at the time (Yr.10).

This involves analysing a variety of historical perspectives and acknowledging differing interpretations of history. It could involve:

  • interpreting some of the sayings of Confucius and identifying the attitudes and values that they portray (Yr.7), as in Learning from Confucius
  • comparing Asian, European and African experiences of and responses to the Black Death (Yr.8), as in The Black Death in Asia
  • analysing the Boxer rebellion to identify the motivations, perspectives and interpretations of a variety of players (Yr.9)
  • comparing how the portrayal of women has changed over time in a selection of Hollywood, Bollywood and anime movies (Yr.10), as in Bollywood and Women.
Explanation and communication

This skill is about explaining and presenting findings from an historical inquiry in written, digital or oral forms. It could involve:

  • creating a graphic representation of the social structure in ancient India (Yr.7)
  • developing an audio visual presentation about the life of Genghis Khan which uses historical source material as evidence (Yr.8)
  • using source material to develop an historical argument about the treatment of Chinese miners on Australian goldfields (Yr.9), as in Attitudes towards Chinese migrants
  • role-playing a 1970s public meeting regarding multiculturalism, assimilation and cultural heritage (Yr.10).

Illustration of practice

Video of Kay Bishop, former president of the History Teachers' Association of Australia, discussing pedagogical approaches to teaching history.



Video: AEF

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