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Introduction from the History Faculty

We are a high performing Faculty which has quality teaching at its heart. We are a collegial and innovative staff that is prepared to take risks in order to develop 21st Century programs which seek to enthuse our highly gifted students. Using the higher order thinking skills of Bloom’s taxonomy and strategies from Van Tassel Basca’s integrated curriculum model as a basis for our programming we challenge students to create and evaluate their own work and the work of others and thus engage them in the learning process.

We have suitably high expectations of our students and use assessment for learning strategies to help them improve their knowledge and understanding as ability groups and as individuals. We are keen to develop student voice and relationships with parents to further improve the education we provide. The knowledge and skills learned whilst doing History at High (whether it be to Year 9, Year 10 or to Year 12) will allow our students to become articulate, critical thinkers and understand the importance of their rights and responsibilities as Australian and global citizens.

Years 7 to 10 History

Year 7 - Chinese Kite Making

Students modelling the battle of Salamis

Year 7 History
The Year 7 History Course involves the study of two Ancient Societies, Ancient China and Ancient Greece. It introduces students to the nature of History and methods used by historians to investigate the past. Students use both Primary and Secondary sources to gather evidence, to answer questions about the past and to understand historical and heritage issues. A variety of activities are included in this course to allow students to develop and demonstrate their creative ICT skills to communicate their understanding of historical events. These activities include creating; prezis, electronic story boards, travel brochures and newspaper articles. An emphasis is also placed on not only developing the student’s ability to work independently but to also work cooperatively as members of groups to conduct an historical investigation and to communicate ideas and information. Activities which foster collaborative learning include; creating board games, debating and drama performances. The History department is also committed to developing the student’s literacy skills. History is ideally suited to improving these skills which include the comprehension of texts, the use of specific historical language and constructing a variety of texts for different purposes.

Year 8 History
History at SBHS is taught as a one-semester course, with students completing their Geography studies in the alternate semester. This enables students to focus more intensively on the skills and content within the History curriculum, making better use of the time allocated to both subjects.

Students undertake a number of independent and group inquiries spanning three areas of study: Medieval Britain; Incas and Contact and Colonisation in Australia. The foundation work in History, established in Year 7, is continued in the Year 8 curriculum, with a focus on developing students skills in analysing and using historical sources. Both their formal assessments and ongoing classwork are designed to challenge and engage students across a variety of media, utilising the technological resources available within the school to create innovative presentations and displays. Students also have access to the wealth of quality online resources, such as those provided by both ABC and PBS. This also enables students to develop their independent research skills as they develop more sophisticated tools for information retrieval, and to be more critical consumers of online resources.

There is also a strong emphasis on developing students’ formal writing skills throughout the course, which is designed to maximise student achievement within the course, as well as to best prepare students for the rigours of senior humanities study. As well as modelled answers and a number of formative tasks, students work to develop their own questions and marking criteria, as well as deconstructing questions and responses from previous assessments. This has consistently proven to be an effective strategy, as seen through students improved performance in formal written tasks throughout the semester.

Year 9 History

the Wall of Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Students with the original inhabitants of the Canberra area

Students at the Tutankhamun’s tomb exhibit 1

Students at the Tutankhamun’s tomb exhibit 2

Since 2010, the Stage 5 curriculum at Sydney Boys High School has been compacted into Year 9. This has been a very successful initiative with both staff and students responding positively to the pace and challenge set. In 2010, the transition year, Year 9 students achieved a higher mean score than the Year 10 students who took the exam. In 2011 it was very pleasing to see that the percentage of Band 6 continued to rise from 14.28% to 31.27%.

Year 9 History at SBHS shows much evidence of a blended delivery approach and lessons have been adapted to utilise the lap tops in many creative ways: mind maps to develop understanding ; Moodle forums to help students answer short questions; Prezi to allow a more comprehensive presentation of student ideas; virtual museums to develop source work skills and recording through video to show consolidation of learning.

The more traditional skills of the historian have not been forgotten: source work, essay writing and independent research which we develop through a range of formative tasks throughout the year.

From 2012 the History Faculty was one of the first faculties in NSW to trial the draft National Curriculum. In order to do this successfully the History staff have taken the draft NSW syllabus and reorganised it thematically to suit more able students such as those at Sydney Boys High.

Unit 1: The Making of the Modern World: Industrialisation and Imperialism
Unit 2: The Making of the Modern State: the History of India (from Empire to Independence)
Unit 3: The Making of Modern Wars: WWI, WW2 and the Cold War.
Unit 4: The Making of Modern Peoples: People’s movements for change from the Universal Convention of Human Rights to the changing rights of migrants.

In 2011 over half of Year 9 students chose to continue with their studies in History in either History Elective or as Accelerated Modern History students. This is clear evidence of the students appreciating and valuing the work done within the Faculty.

Year 10 Elective History
The History Elective Course is an opportunity for students to gain knowledge and understanding of a range of History periods; to develop the skills required to be successful at both Modern History and Ancient History HSC and to further their enthusiasm for History.

The first unit of work which spans the first term and a half is the History of Medicine. This starts with trepanning in prehistory and finishes with a discussion about ethical issues surrounding modern medical practices. During the course students investigate the people and events which caused change and continuity within medicine in Europe, Asia and Australia.

The second unit of work investigates in some detail the Rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party and the Nazi Holocaust. Students’ assessments in this unit are based around the concept of totalitarianism and a range of other acts of genocide which have taken place throughout the world.

Finally students undertake a unit of work entitled Hollywood and History with an emphasis on how Historical films are marketed and how accurately they portray historical events. The students are always thoroughly engaged in their final assessment which involves them creating the marketing material for a Historical film which they have created.

Over one third of the three Year 10 History Elective History students have opted to continue their studies in either HSC Ancient or Modern History or Studies of Religion.

Preliminary and HSC History

Subjects offered in the senior school are:

Ancient History
The Ancient History Course allows students to study past societies drawing on a variety of disciplines and sources both written and archaeological. Examples include literary works, inscriptions, art, architecture and human remains enabling students to piece together an informed and coherent view of the past. The course allows students to develop their own interpretations alongside those found in secondary texts and how to deal with gaps in the evidence. Students also develop and apply the research skills and methodologies of the historian and archaeologists. They work as members of groups to conduct historical investigations, explore issues and historical problems using appropriate information technologies. This course enables students to develop higher order thinking skills necessary for further education, work and everyday life. It also raises significant contemporary ethical issues associated with present and future ownership of the past. The Ancient History Course empowers students with the knowledge, understanding, skills and values that are useful for their lifelong learning.

The Ancient History course is divided into the Preliminary and the HSC Courses. Below is the structure of both courses.

Preliminary Course

  1. Investigating the past
    1. Investigating the past: History, Archaeology and Science
    2. Case Studies:
      1. Ancient Human Remains
      2. Tutankhamun’s Tomb
  2. Historical Investigation
  3. Ancient Societies, Sites and Sources: City of Rome in the Late Republic

HSC Course

  1. Core: Cities of Vesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum
  2. Spartan Society to the Battle of Leuctra 371 BC
  3. Xerxes
  4. The Greek World 500 – 440 BC

Modern History
The aim of the history department is to integrate digital learning and historical skills. We believe that students can gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of Modern History by collaborating and investigating problems and issues in a shared online environment (Moodle). These skills are life skills that will help students make a contribution in the community, in the workplace and in the wider world.

The historian’s primary skill is the ability to gather and interpret available evidence. Meaning is constructed by incorporating various perspectives to the historical picture. The ability to understand complexity is a sought after skill for the 21st century citizen. The history department is very committed to helping students become mature users of computers, the Internet and web 2.0 tools. The Staged 6 Modern History Syllabus offers students a range of learning opportunities to explore history.

The Modern History course is divided into the Preliminary and the HSC courses. Below is the structure of both courses and there are sample programs. These change from year to year depending on what students want to study and teacher’s interests. Please see Ms Powell (Head Teacher History) for further information on course content and structure.

Preliminary Course
The Preliminary course is conducted in the first three terms of year 11. We approach history by exploring themes and structures; arguments, interpretations and analyses.

Part I: Two Case Studies – 50%
Part II: Historical Investigation – 20%
Part III: Core Study: The World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century – 30%

HSC Course
Part I: Core Study: World War I 1914–1919: A Source-based Study - 25%
Part II: Russia 1917-1941 - 25%
Part III: Leon Trotsky 1879–1940 - 25%
Part IV: Indochina 1954-1979 - 25%

History Extension
Focus: Historiography
History Extension is a one unit course for students who will sit for History in the current HSC or who have already completed that requirement. It is a challenging unit in which the History of, and nature of History, is studied,. Every concept in the course is new to the class. It is not for the faint hearted.

As History Extension is not yet on the crowded official timetable students who choose this course will need to be mature, independent, committed, learners. To help them with a range of books and readings available in a portable form each student is issued on loan a Kindle loaded with useful texts.

Students are required to become Historians by conducting a research project on a topic of their choice. This is worth 40 marks out of 50 in the school assessment. The other 10 marks are from the Trial HSC.

The HSC examination is 2 hours long, for 2 questions: One question on historiography and the other on the historiography of a major case study. The current case study is Appeasement.

Studies of Religion
Religion has been and is an integral part of human experience and a component of every culture. An appreciation of society is enhanced by an understanding of religion, its influence on human behaviour and interaction within culture. The aim of the Stage 6 Studies of Religion syllabus is to promote an understanding and critical awareness of the nature and significance of religion and the influence of belief systems and religious traditions on individuals and within society.

Studies of Religion emphasises the development of skills of analysis, independent research, collaboration and effective communication. These skills empower students to become critically reflective life-long learners.

Students will develop knowledge and understanding about: the nature of religion and belief systems in local and global contexts; the influence and expression of religion and belief systems in Australia; and religious traditions and their adherents. They will gain skills relating to: effective gathering, analysing and synthesising of information about religion; effective evaluation and application of findings from research about religion; and communication of complex information, ideas and issues in appropriate forms to different audiences and in different contexts. Students will value and appreciate: ethical and socially responsible behaviours which are brought about through empathy for, and acceptance of, religious diversity; and the fundamental rights of religious believers, rules and laws that promote fairness, justice and equality in society.

The Studies of Religion Subject is divided into the Preliminary and the HSC Courses. Below is the structure of both courses.

Preliminary Course:
The Preliminary Course is conducted in the first three terms of Year 11 as a 1 unit subject. It covers:

  1. The Nature of Religion and Beliefs;
  2. Religious Tradition Study 1: Judaism;
  3. Religious Tradition Study 2: Islam.

In Term 4 of Year 11, students wishing to study the 2 unit HSC course also complete the following three topics: Religions of Ancient Origin, Religious Tradition Study 3: Christianity, Religion in Australia pre - 1945.

HSC Course:
Sydney Boys High School offers Studies of Religion as both a 1 unit and a 2 unit subject, as outlined below:

The 1 unit Course:

  1. Religion and Belief Systems in Australia post – 1945;
  2. Religious Tradition Depth Study 1: Judaism;
  3. Religious Tradition Depth Study 2: Islam.

The 2 unit Course contains all of the above, but with three additional areas of study:

  1. Religion and Non – Religion;
  2. Religious Tradition Depth Study 3: Christianity;
  3. Religion and Peace.