Part A: Curriculum Story
Throughout the years of 2005-2010 I attended a public high school in a rather large country town. During my time there, the subject History was always very prominent, not deemed as important as Mathematics, English, and Science but at the very least from years 7-10 it was a compulsory subject. Students during those 7-10 years, including myself, showed very little interest in the subject – it was seen almost as another subject on the timetable. At the time it was hard to understand why the older students from higher grades loved history, personally I found the topics that were picked boring.
Looking back on how I felt about history now it seems pretty clear to me that I missed out on an experience of fruitful learning. It wasn’t that the topics were boring, as during my early years of high school we were learning about; Ancient Egypt, the Crusades, Archaeology etc.
I guess that something during that period seemed to be lacking, something that held me back for a few minutes to attend this class when the recess bell went. Now looking back, I know that my lack of enthusiasm for the subject was mirrored by the teachers that were teaching my classes. From year 7 to the middle of year 9 I had three history teachers, all of which varied in teaching style and experience; one was an older woman who had been around the school for a while, her interest in the subject was marvellous but lacked some of the enthusiasm that would have been suited for a young student audience, thus the topics never stuck in my head. The second was a middle aged woman who to me showed little interest in her students, despite having great knowledge, she seemed to bore even herself when teaching. Lastly, a young man who might have only been a two or three years’ experience, my class had him for one half of year 9 which was the period where us students didn’t seem to care about schooling, so he was never able to control the class.
Fortunately for me, and many other students in my class, the struggle of teaching my class became too much for the young male teacher to handle, so he was replaced with the head teacher of History.
Mr. O seemed almost like a myth, only the students from the higher grades had him as their teacher, so when asked about what he was like; most of the students would say that he was ‘strict’ and ‘tough’, but all of them seemed happy still to have him as their teacher. Nevertheless, the idea of a strict teacher who didn’t take any crap was daunting on me, for all I knew he could be screaming his head off at us all lesson. By the time our first lesson had come around, I was anxious about going, I remember it being the last period on a Monday and it had been raining all day, I guess in my head the rain acted like a perfect backdrop for my demise. We looked in the room to see that he wasn’t there yet, so we decided to go in and take our seats while we wait his arrival. Everyone was sitting in their seats, chatting amongst themselves, then he walked in as the room went silent. Mr. O was an imposing figure, standing taller than anyone else, he spoke with a stern voice but immediately he had my attention. As soon as he made his grand entrance he began to teach, and from there I was engaged for not just that lesson but every lesson afterwards.
Mr. O invited you to explore and engage History almost as if it was our pleasure to be learning it, it was almost as if I was receiving some sort of fatherly advice. Mr. O made every topic just as interesting as the last, from a less interesting topic such as ‘The Baby Boomers’ to a more interesting topic in ‘Nazi Germany’, all were captivating. It wasn’t as if he just spoke to us in a dull fashion or just wrote notes in the board, he engaged us as a group and as individuals, and from there I was fascinated with all types of history and former civilizations, as well as gaining an understanding of how we got to where we are and where we