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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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Teaching Heritage is a joint initiative between the NSW Heritage Commissionexternal link and the Board of Studies NSWexternal linkand was established in 1999. On this site, you can explore more than 24 major NSW heritage sites.

The site aims to educate students to think critically about heritage issues and to develop skills which can be used to influence heritage issues. Heritage has always been popular with teachers and learners. Students can improve their visual literacy in learning how to read a building and to appreciate landscapes, views and vistas. For students, heritage is fun and participatory. It allows those from different ethnic backgrounds to gain a sense of belonging as their own heritage stories are told and valued.

2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Governor Lachlan Macquarie's 12 year tenure as the 5th Governor of the colony of New South Wales. He was sworn in as Governor on 1 January 1810.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie made an outstanding and extensive contribution to the growth of the state of New South Wales and his many legacies endure. During his governorship, Macquarie instigated hundreds of public works programs leading to the introduction of churches, schools, hospitals, roads, and banks. Some these public works are featured on this site.

Section marker What is heritage?

Why are some buildings demolished without a thought, while people fight to protect others? Should we preserve not only the architectural masterpieces, but examples of the soldier settler’s cottages and derelict mining sites? Who decides?
This section includes about 40 readings from a variety of sources on the changing meanings of heritage. As Geraldine O’Brien writes, "Heritage is the combination of all those things that make us, as individuals, the people we are and, on a larger scale, make us the nation we are. It can be as small as a baby’s rattle, passed down through generations, a family photograph, books, or a piece of furniture. Or it can be as large as Uluru, the Sydney Opera House or an old harbour ferry."

Section marker Heritage Timeline

We frequently refer to time periods in history with such terms as the Rock'n'Roll Generation, the Swinging Sixties, the Depression Years or the Menzies Era.
Here are three timelines: An timeline of key events in Australia for every year in the 20th century, an Indigenous Australian timeline and an Australian environmental activism timeline.
These collections of events provide another means of investigating Australia's past and trying to identify what we mean by 'Our Heritage'. These three timelines show three different ways in which historical events can be organised to help identify threads of meaning in Australian history.

Section marker Visual History

Photographs are a fascinating window to the past. In this section, Roy Lumby, Chairman of the Sydney Twentieth Century Heritage Society shows us how to interpret the past through photographs of buildings. Joy Hughes, Curator of the Historic Houses Trust exhibition ‘'Demolished', (1999), writes about collecting photographs of Sydney’s demolished houses and mounting the exhibition.
An excerpt from an article by Sue Georgevits focuses on a family photograph album and the connections between private memories of public events, in this case, the First World War.
This section also includes an account of the way family photographs can evoke memories and lead to more complex understandings of past lives and events.

Section marker Exploring Heritage - Teaching materials

This section comprises four major teaching units spanning the twentieth century. Examine social, cultural and political change in Australia between 1901 and 2001. Visit places of industry, government, administration and Aboriginal heritage; places of recreation, technology, industry and war-time activity; places of cultural activity, community identity, political meetings and civic participation; places where people work towards reconciliation, practise cultural traditions, and act to save Australia’s heritage and environment.

Section marker What is Heritage? - Heritage Round-table

History teachers, academics, heritage professionals, museum curators, historians - we asked them questions. Hear their answers.
You be the interviewer. Simply select a question from the list and select the person you would like to hear answer it.
Such topics as – In what ways are views of heritage changing? How inclusive are mainstream views on heritage? And in what ways can the public participate in heritage issues? – are included.

Section marker Heritage Gallery

What is the name of the largest cemetery in Australia? And why does it have two railway stations? What movie did the Ritz Theatre at Randwick show on its opening night?
Find the answers to these questions and more, as you explore more than 24 major NSW heritage sites in this section. The sites are as diverse as Susannah Place, a row of working class houses in The Rocks, the small Chinese Yiu Ming Temple in Alexandria, the Grace Building, associated with the 1920s retail boom and General Douglas Macarthur's World War II Sydney headquarters, the Randwick Ritz Cinema, one of the few surviving examples of the hundreds of cinemas which were built during the 1930s, Willandra Lakes, a unique region containing Pleistocene archaeological records that demonstrate continuous human occupation of the area for at least 40,000 years.

Section marker Oral History

Contemporary history is founded upon the ways in which people experienced events. With the emergence of interest in womens’ history, labour history, indigenous history and family history, recording oral recollections has grown in importance as an important tool of historians since the 1960s.
Read about the planned interview as an approach to gathering historical information. Contributors to this section point to effective and sensitive strategies for undertaking oral histories. Oral histories give people the opportunity to talk about their lives and, in doing so, contribute to the story of Australia’s history and inheritance.

Section marker Site Investigations

Investigating localities or places for evidence of change over time – and the possible explanations for change – is the focus of this section.
Read about the heritage worker’s approach to investigating a site, the research sources providing historical information about sites, and the steps involved in conducting a site survey.
Go to the discussion forum to hear Carol Liston discuss an approach to site investigations.
Paulene Dowd and John Bailey conduct a site study of Observatory Hill with Year 9 students from Penshurst Girls High School.Mark Anderson and Paul Ashton present an approach to conducting a site study in the history text ‘Focus on Australian History’.

Section marker Using Heritage Databases

Learn how to search the external linkState Heritage Inventory (SHI), which contains more than 20,000 items of heritage significance in NSW, including archaeological items, buildings and landscape.
From these pages you can also search the external linkNSW Maritime Heritage online (MHO NSW) database of shipwrecks. Bark canoes, river boats, coastal traders and ocean going ships are an important part of NSW history.
How good are you at searching? Become an expert. The activities, lessons and search-quizzes here will help you find intriguing and little-known information about NSW heritage in an interesting way.

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