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NSW Syllabuses

Learning across the curriculum

Learning across the curriculum content, including the cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities, assists students to achieve the broad learning outcomes defined in the Board of Studies K–10 Curriculum Framework and Statement of Equity Principles and in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2008).

Cross-curriculum priorities enable students to develop understanding about and address the contemporary issues they face.

The cross-curriculum priorities are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability Sustainability

General capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.

The general capabilities are:

  • Critical and creative thinking Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical understanding Ethical understanding 
  • Information and communication technology capability  Information and communication technology capability
  • Intercultural understanding Intercultural understanding
  • Literacy  Literacy
  • Numeracy Numeracy
  • Personal and social capability  Personal and social capability

The Board's syllabuses include other areas identified as important learning for all students:

  • Civics and citizenship Civics and citizenship
  • Difference and diversity Difference and diversity
  • Work and enterprise Work and enterprise

Learning across the curriculum content is incorporated, and identified by icons, in the content of the History K–10 Syllabus in the following ways.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

The study of History in Australia requires a valued engagement in and celebration of the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, past and present, as part of the shared history belonging to all Australians. Students examine historical perspectives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewpoints. Throughout the study of History, students learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as the world's oldest continuous cultures, prior to colonisation by the British, the ensuing contact and its impact. They will examine the interaction between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Europeans, with special emphasis on Aboriginal initiatives and responses to key government policies since their earliest contact with British colonists. Students develop an awareness of the significant roles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have played in Australian society and the wider world. This knowledge and understanding will deepen and enable students' capacity to participate in the ongoing development of a just and equitable Australian society that genuinely reconciles with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia

History students develop an understanding of the diversity of the peoples of Asia and their contributions to the region and the world, and an appreciation of the importance of the region for Australia and the world. Students understand the dynamic nature of social, cultural and political relationships within the region over time, and the role that individuals, governments and other organisations play in shaping relationships between peoples and countries. Students develop an appreciation of the history of the Australian–Asian engagement and how this influences contemporary Australian society and relationships with the countries of Asia. They understand the long history of migration to Australia by people from Asia and acknowledge the contributions made over time by Asian Australians to the development of Australia's culture and society. They also understand the ongoing role played by Australia and individual Australians in major events and developments in the Asia region.

Sustainability Sustainability 

History enables the development of students' world views, particularly in relation to actions that require judgement about past societies and their access to and use of the Earth's resources. Students are provided with opportunities to develop an historical perspective on sustainability by understanding, for example, the emergence of farming and settled communities, the positive and negative impacts of peoples and governments on pre-modern environments, the development of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of population, the overuse of natural resources, the rise of environmental movements as well as the global energy crisis and innovative technological responses to it. Making decisions about sustainability to help shape a better future requires an understanding of how the past relates to the present, and needs to be informed by historical trends and experiences.

Critical and creative thinking  Critical and creative thinking

The process of critical and creative thinking is central to historical inquiry. Students are introduced to sources which, in later stages, will be questioned for their reliability and usefulness. These sources are critically selected and analysed to provide evidence and information in the process of constructing and defending an argument or interpretation. Students explore viewpoints and perspectives in the context of studying history. When investigating the past, sources are incomplete and in this context, both critical and creative modes of thinking are engaged in the construction of an historical explanation using limited evidence. They also provide scope for presenting new and challenging interpretations when difficult or distracting information, newly discovered sources or unsettling recent events contest our familiar understanding of the past and require that this past be reinterpreted.

Ethical understanding  Ethical understanding

Through a study of History students engage with a range of human behaviours displayed by the people of the past. This provides them with an opportunity to examine and explore the strengths and weaknesses, motives and actions of historical personalities and groups. Such an encounter with different behaviours from the past will enable students to compare and strengthen their own ethical understanding. This ethical process allows them to create a firm perspective and stance on right and wrong conduct.

Information and communication technology capability  Information and communication technology capability

Students develop ICT competence as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately when investigating, creating and communicating ideas and information at school, at home, at work and in their communities. Competence in ICT is most evident in historical skills associated with locating, processing and communicating historical information. This includes the use of information technologies to access a growing range of digitised online materials; spreadsheets and databases for analysing evidence and historical trends; digital technologies to create, publish and present their learning; communication technologies, for example wikis and blogs, to enhance students' analytical thinking capabilities in their study of history and online forums and videoconferencing to discuss and debate ideas.

Intercultural understanding  Intercultural understanding

Intercultural understanding forms a vital element of the study of History. Students learn about the perspectives, beliefs and values of people, past and present, and the importance of understanding their own history and the histories of other groups in Australian society, indigenous and non-indigenous. Students engage with issues of intercultural understanding in the context of their own lives as well as previous generations and communities who have created the dynamics of Australian history. Students develop an historical understanding, empathy and experience of the richness and the reasons for Australia's multicultural society and its place in the region and the wider world.

Literacy  Literacy

History is ideally suited to develop students' literacy skills, including the reading and comprehension of texts, the understanding and use of specific historical language, analysis and use of sources and historical texts, researching and communicating in oral, written and digital forms. These skills will enable students to confidently communicate and to become articulate, thoughtful and responsible individuals, community members and citizens.

Numeracy Numeracy

Numeracy content within the study of History involves the construction and interpretation of time lines, graphs, tables, maps, scales and statistics. Students develop confidence and proficiency in applying these skills to represent, comprehend and analyse quantitative data to make meaning of the past.

Personal and social capability Personal and social capability

A study of History enables students to investigate and appreciate the different ways people of the past managed their own lives, their relationships, work, play and learning. Students are encouraged to compare their lives and circumstances with those of earlier individuals and groups and to develop a concern for and appreciation of others in the past and the present as they continue their study of History. Such learning enables students to experience and express the essential historical skill of empathy. Students are encouraged to place themselves in the challenging circumstances of past people and engage with the possibilities which were open to them at the time.

Civics and citizenship Civics and citizenship

In History students investigate and explore how their own and other societies have organised themselves, and how the ideals and practices of their own democratic society have evolved over time. Students engage with the fundamentals of the nature of community and citizenship and the development of democracy in Australia. A comparison with other civic societies enriches this knowledge and understanding of civic life. Students examine the changing role of citizens in the context of government systems and institutions as well as political and social life in the past and the present. The long struggle for rights, responsibilities and freedoms forms the focus of studying past people. The later depth studies have a civics and citizenship focus, providing opportunities to examine the living and working conditions of men, women and children during the Industrial Revolution, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the transportation of convicts to the British colonies in Australia and the struggle within US and Australian history for individual, democratic rights of all peoples: the free settlers, the slaves, the convicts and Australian and American Indigenous peoples.

Difference and diversity Difference and diversity

History is well placed to develop students' knowledge and understanding about the difference and diversity amongst peoples of the past and within Australian society. Students learn to identify and empathise with the varying perspectives of individuals and groups over time and attempt to understand the actions, values, attitudes and motives of people from the past. This focus on difference and diversity provides students with the opportunity to explore similarities and differences between today and the past. Such an approach enables students to investigate the circumstances of those whom society has marginalised because of their beliefs, gender, race and socio-economic status. Such inquiries would highlight the impact of colonisation and the struggles for rights and freedoms, revealing the ways diversity contributes to and enriches a deeper sense of community and national identity.

Work and enterprise Work and enterprise

In History there are opportunities to investigate and examine the living and working conditions of the people of the past and their experience under changing social, economic and technological developments. Students are enabled to understand how their own rights and responsibilities in the contemporary workplace have been achieved in the context of earlier generations' struggles for rights and freedoms from the early years of the Industrial Revolution, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the convict system in British Australia.