Five case studies in twentieth century Australian history

The latest Australian History Mysteries resource from the National Museum of Australia and Ryebuck Media will help you to bring your history classes alive right now and it will also help you to be better prepared for the new national history curriculum.

The new Australian History Mysteries resource includes a 60 minute DVD and Teacher’s Resource Book comprising 120 pages. The DVD contains a short overview of each of the five case studies specifically introducing the context of each history mystery. Teachers can choose which mystery they want their class to explore and then play a 10 minute segment which provides a ‘virtual visit’ to places where evidence can be found to help them understand and then solve the respective mystery.

The Teacher’s Resource Book contains print case studies with a variety of photocopiable information, evidence and activities for use in the classroom.

The five case studies are:

Case Study 1: Interrogating World War 1 and a local community

Did World War 1 unite or divide Australians on the home front? In this unit students ‘create’ a family and community, and then explore how the people involved react to a series of situations that develop during the war – a practical classroom-based way of developing knowledge, understanding and empathy while formulating hypotheses that can then be tested in a real local community, or at a state or national level.

Case Study 2: Investigating the Coniston Massacre of 1928

In 1928 at least 31 and possibly more than one hundred Aboriginal people were killed by police patrols near Alice Springs after a local dingo trapper was found dead. A Government Inquiry found the killings were justified. But were they? How can such a terrible event have happened? In this case study students investigate the evidence to try to establish the facts, and to understand the attitudes, values and clash of cultures that made these events possible.

Case Study 3: The Great Depression —Investigating image and reality

Popular images of the Great Depression are strong and clear: unemployment, suffering, poverty, violence, homelessness for the many; continued employment
and luxurious living for the rich few. But are these images adequate? Do they tell us what was really happening to the people involved? In this unit students develop their own family profiles and then trace that family through a variety of typical Great Depression experiences. They decide whether the popular images of the Depression are reality or are myths.

Case Study 4 Exploring the Snowy Mountains Scheme

The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme is always presented as the beginnings of, and a triumph for, multiculturalism in Australia. If it was, how were former enemies able to work together apparently so successfully in a new community? How were tensions, even hatreds overcome? Focusing on a variety of evidence students investigate a number of possible explanations and develop their own conclusions. They also consider whether the Scheme is better described as ‘successful multiculturalism’, or ‘successful integration’.

Case Study 5 Myth busting the Vietnam War

There are many aspects of the Vietnam War that are popularly accepted. This unit puts them to the test.

  • Did Prime Minister Whitlam bring the troops home?
  • Were returning soldiers splattered with paint?
  • Were the Vietnam refugees ‘boat people’?
  • Was Normie Rowe ‘set up’ to be conscripted?
  • Is the famous image on the National Vietnam Memorial misleading?

The unit introduces such themes and lets students be ‘myth busters’ by providing them with evidence
that will support or refute each claim. They make the decisions!

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