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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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head Paul Ashton

Lecturer, Department of Writing, Social and Cultural Studies University of Technology, Sydney

Well heritage is a very complex concept at one level but, in a simple way, heritage is what we inherit basically, and this can be positive but it can also be negative. I think there’s a popular view around that heritage is generally about celebration, it’s generally about positive things that have come down to us culturally through bequests, through things that have been built in the past, through scientific developments and other human endeavours, but I think one also needs to keep in mind that heritage can have negative connotations, that we also inherit things like soil erosion, environmental degradation, national debt and a whole range of things, corruption which is a very strong theme in New South Wales. So yeah, it’s basically what we inherit.
Individual heritage can link to personal heritage, to family, to various personal traits and characteristics. Heritage can derive from local circumstances, through geographical location, through a connection with particular places, you may actually feel some sort of connection to a place which you don’t actually live in. You can have heritage that derives from community where you may be a train enthusiast and love locomotives, or you may have a particular fondness for certain wildlife or particular forms of entertainment or pastimes. You can also have a broader level of heritage again through ethnic connection, so there’s a whole way in which heritage can be constructed, and it is a construction, and it’s something that also is multi-layered, people can have a variety of connections to different heritage through ethnicity, through class, through locality, so it is a multi-layered thing.

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