The Defence of Darwin: From the ‘what?’ to the ‘so what?’ of a cross-curricular resource

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    THE DEFENCE OF DARWIN: From the 'what?' to the 'so what?' of a cross-curricular resource describes the evolution of a project to support learning about the permanent exhibitions and distributed heritage sites of the recently opened Defence of Darwin Experience museum. The museum is exploratory, technologically and socially interactive, providing opportunities to develop an inquiry-based ethos that meets the needs of the Australian Curriculum. This paper describes the creation of an online education resource, grounded in inquiry pedagogy within and across curriculum disciplines and mapped to the Australian Curriculum. The collaborative development of the inquiry-focused resources was facilitated by teacher consultations, collaborative discipline work and media discussions that raised troubling tensions; time-poor teachers, a changing and overly full curriculum operating in a climate of unease in public discourse that appeared to prioritise knowledge transfer, and, bids to define national identity. On these scores inquiry-based learning stands the loser. The resulting resource spans low^er primary to secondary, across History, Art, English, Mathematics, Civics and Citizenship, and Science. In this century strong economic links between northern Australia and Asia highlight a need to understand the 'what?' and the 'so what?' of Darwin's history. In a country where Aboriginal voices are strengthening, defence is discussed in terms of evacuees and refugees, and Asian economic ties are crucial to perceived wellbeing, history needs to be approached from interdisciplinary and inquiry-based perspectives if students are to understand the context of our present and the relevance of the past. The paper concludes with a caution, that pedagogy that will engage and excite student interest must remain central in any debates surrounding the content of the curriculum, if the socially cohesive and engaged citizenship aspirations of a subject, such as History, are to be maintained. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-51
    Number of pages11
    JournalCurriculum Perspectives
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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