Official Anzac pitch to schools deserves an alternative view: Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial; The Honest History Book

There is much more to Australia’s wartime history than its military history. There is much more to Australia’s history than the history of its wars.

At a time when Minister Tehan is handing out Anzac Day Awards to schools across Australia and his department is sending out its annual Remembrance Day showbag, Honest History reminds teachers and students – Year 9 and above – of Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial.

regular_3151430_0001 (1)Anzac Day 1929, spectators watching the march past from the Australian War Memorial site (National Archives of Australia A3560, 5248). This illustration is on the front cover of the second edition of the Alternative Guide.

The Alternative Guide has been downloaded more than 2300 times since we first posted it on the Honest History website on Anzac Day 2016. It is now in its second edition.

While the Alternative Guide is explicitly about the War Memorial, it encourages readers and visitors to look for what official Australian commemoration (from all sources) does not say – for the silences as well as the spruiking. This is just as relevant a consideration when using DVA’s material as when visiting the Memorial. As the introduction to the Alternative Guide says:

Look for places where the Memorial [or DVA] presents (or fails to present) evidence in a way that produces sanitised or misleading or partial stories. (Here we mean “partial” in both senses – not telling the whole story and favouring just one side of the story.)

People from the Honest History coalition have often spoken to school groups – in Canberra or elsewhere – and have found the experience mutually rewarding. The Honest History Book (still selling well) was also written with senior secondary students (and teachers) in mind. The argument of the book is summarised simply on its cover: ‘Australia is more than Anzac – and always has been’.

The fascinating and vital question this outstanding and highly readable collection poses is whether an honest version of history can displace or modify the comforts and dangers of state-cultivated and politically motivated myth. The book would be excellent for high school students and undergraduates.’ – Robert Manne on The Honest History Book

13 October 2017

Honest History FINAL front

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