Parkes, Robert J. & Heather Sharp: Gallipoli in school textbooks

Parkes, Robert J. & Heather Sharp

Nietzchean perspectives on representations of national history in Australian school textbooks: what should we do with Gallipoli?Ensayos: Revista de la Facultad de Educación de Albacete [Spain], 29, 1, 2014, pp. 159-81

Summarises two decades of history education in Australia, including how it links to patriotic conditioning, noting that the recent attack on perceived lack of attention to Gallipoli ‘would seem to be largely motivated by an attempt to keep national mythology alive’. Suggests Anzac Day participation nowadays is seen as patriotic rather than simply as war remembrance.

Content analysis of five secondary history textbooks shows roughly similar allocation of space to Gallipoli and World War I. This reflects the space given to these topics in the national history curriculum. The authors found, ‘contrary to current political rhetoric, that Gallipoli does have an explicit and somewhat elevated place in the Australian Curriculum …’

The authors introduce Nietzche’s concept of three uses of history – monumental, antiquarian and critical – suggesting there needs to be a balance between them. In the textbooks examined, the reduced attention paid to the story of Simpson and his donkey suggests a move away from monumental and antiquarian discourses and a growth in critical history, ‘challenging past and present conceptions of Simpson that position him as a hero’.

Such changes may be partly why conservatives are concerned. But monumentalism is still present in these textbooks, facilitating student participation in ‘antiquarian-style ANZAC commemoration’.


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