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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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head Tracy Ireland

School of Archaeology, University of Sydney

Without going into too much detail I suppose, I believe that in the nineteenth century at least in Great Britain and Australia, which very much took its cultural traditions from Great Britain in the nineteenth century, heritage, the term ‘heritage’, meant something less material that it does today. If we were to say the term ‘heritage’ to somebody in the nineteenth century they would be more likely to think about it as their language, the literature that they learnt, growing up and through their schooling, the Bible, religion, Christian religion was obviously a very important part of one’s cultural heritage.
I think today Australia’s heritage movement and the way in which people understand heritage reflects two very interesting traditions, and one is this strong tradition of Commonwealth Government using the concept of heritage to reflect the cultural aspirations of the community, and the second tradition is more the grassroots tradition of activism which comes from the heritage movement’s links to environmental activism. So I think in the minds of the community we can see these two threads in the language they understand heritage.

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