Breakthrough for history education

The new HSC syllabuses for modern and ancient history include key topics recommended by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

IN a welcome move, key areas of study recommended by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) – including the rise of Nazism – have been incorporated into the new HSC syllabuses, released late last month by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

The new modern history syllabus features a new core study within the year 12 course called “Power and Authority in the Modern World”, which has a specific and compulsory focus, for the first time, on the Nazi regime to 1939. It means all HSC modern history students will, from implementation in 2018 and 2019, be required to learn about the rise of Nazism and the Nazis’ use and abuse of power.

The roles and responsibilities of individuals, organisations and nations when confronted with civil rights violations will also be part of the course. The year 12 topic “Conflict in Europe 1935-1945” remains as an elective, as does the year 11 topic “Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict”.

JBOD CEO Vic Alhadeff told The AJN on Tuesday, “The importance of including the rise of Nazi Germany as a compulsory component of the modern history -syllabus cannot be overstated, and NESA is to be warmly congratulated for recognising that.

“JBOD lodged submissions with NESA in regard to the modern history and ancient history syllabuses, and we acknowledge the invaluable involvement of Macquarie University academics Professor Gil Davis and Dr Eve Guerry, University of Sydney academic Dr Michael Abrahams-Sprod, the Jewish day schools and the Sydney Jewish Museum in this process.”

In the new HSC ancient history syllabus, under the Near East -sub-category, ancient Israel case study options have been included in both the years 11 and 12 courses.

In the year 12 course, students can choose to study content including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the history of Masada.

In the year 11 course, students can opt to learn about ancient Israel society from Solomon to the fall of Samaria, or the ancient Levant during the First Temple period.

The new syllabuses will come into effect for year 11 in 2018 and for year 12 in 2019.

The current HSC ancient history and modern history syllabuses were introduced more than 20 years ago, and last updated in 2009.

NESA chairman Tom Alegounarias said the new syllabuses for those HSC courses, and 17 others, will provide students with a richer learning experience and more time to engage with subjects in more depth, to develop a greater mastery of knowledge and skills.

SHANE DESIATNIK