1066 - Battle of Hastings. 1558 - Coronation of Elizabeth I. 1947 - India gains independence from Britain. 1961 - the Berlin Wall was built. 1975 - Vietnam was reunited after decades of war. 1994 - Nelson Mandela became South Africa's Head of State.
Don't worry; this is not what we do in history anymore. We do not make our students memorise dates, names and events. We are more interested in connections, perspectives, significance, and developing critical literacy. For example, what is the specific connection between the Holocaust and the formation of the State of Israel? Why is there such division among Americans about the conduct of the government, and of the soldiers themselves, during the Vietnam War? Why do we call it the Vietnam War when it is called the War of American Aggression in Vietnam? How did the New Zealand soldiers in World War I help to develop New Zealand identity?
History is offered in the senior school at McGlashan and can be taken as part of an NCEA or an IB qualification. The contexts we study include:
Level 1 NCEA: historical skills and concepts, the causes and consequences of 911, World War I, Black Civil Rights.
Level 2 NCEA: critical thinking and examination, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and its significance to New Zealand, Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge.
Level 3 NCEA: developing historical consciousness, the causes and consequences of the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine historiography.
IB History: the history of Asia and Oceania - China 1949-2005 and Cold War conflicts in Asia.
All three of McGlashan's history teachers: Ms Gardiner, Ms Bell, and Mr Morrison are passionate about teaching history. We are not simply interested in the contexts, but in the skills history can help to develop. We focus on evidence and source evaluation. Where did the evidence come from? Who wrote it? For what purpose? Is there bias present? Whose voices are missing? History also includes research and written report components, which help develop necessary skills for tertiary study.
On Wednesday 14 August, all the McGlashan history students will bus to Otago Girls' High School to hear Elizabeth Eckford speak. She was one of the Little Rock 9, a group of African-American students who were involved in the desegregation of Central High in Little Rock Arkansas, and subject to racial abuse for their courage.
We are also in the midst of planning our biennial trip to Vietnam, where we travel from the South of Vietnam to the North, visiting sites of historical significance. Visiting the places we have studied, and the exposure to a different culture and environment is enriching and valuable beyond what we can achieve in a classroom alone.
"Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true education."
- Martin Luther King Jnr