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The following is not intended as a Course/Content explanation of what we do in this Department here at St.Teresa’s Catholic College; that information is available elsewhere on this website and in the College’s various year level Course Handbooks. This is rather, an insight into the philosophy that underpins how we go about the teaching of History and the Humanities in all the subjects that make up this Department;
We love History and the Humanities. Professionally, it provides our employment ; personally, we breathe it. Each teacher in this department, each in their own way, derives enormous satisfaction from reading it, watching it, writing it. By its very nature History and the Humanities provides us with a well-spring of ideas and insights. Its stories, characters and lessons provide revelations and wisdom that no other discipline can. It creates understanding and empathy; two of the most valuable commodities a human can acquire. When we teach History and the Humanities we attempt to bring that passion to the classroom. We cannot guarantee that every lesson, every time, there’s a fire of enthusiasm that’s lit in our students but we bring a consistent motivation to what we do and we endeavor to bring to life and make relevant the content.
What is the power of History? What difference can the History/Humanities teacher make?
History is the study of the evolution of thought. Once students are given that understanding, it unlocks a perspective that challenges and usually dismantles their pre-conceived narrow worldview. It can be painful for some students, to see their adolescent cosmology laid bare, to open them to the possibility that ideology is actually socially constructed, that today’s truth is tomorrow’s nonsense. It can also be the most liberating experience, to view human history as a living demonstration of truth and perspective, with invaluable insights into the awesome capabilities of conscientious human endeavour and the catastrophic consequences of ego and power, repeatedly played out in the theatre of history. But we do not ever imagine or teach that the evolution of thought is somehow linear, with a starting point and the quality steadily improving along a chronological continuum. Infact it is only through the disciplines of History and the Humanities, if taught without the grand narrative approach, that students can see the brilliance and universality of thought that can be found in some of the beliefs, practices and documents of our earliest societies, as well as the most contemporary. Also it does not imply, as post-modernists would have it, that there are no absolutes, that truth is relative to your place and space, your genetic inheritance or culture; that there is ‘a’ truth amongst many or no real truth and certainly not ‘the’ truth. Again it is within the power of History and the Humanities to reveal that there are universal human absolutes that endure.
The evolution of thought, like biological evolution, contains beliefs (or species) that can adapt, stagnate or die out. It is History and the Humanities that reveals the reasons, and therefore informs the studier, as to why certain ideologies flourish or become extinct. The historian is able to understand, and thus gain perspective, on the fatal flaws embedded in some styles of thinking and the enduring resonance in others. The disciplines of History and the Humanities are a gift to be explored, a jewel to be cherished, an enlightening dialogue that is ongoing, a dance in the rain! Sorry, lost it there for a minute but the teachers of History and the Humanities here at St Teresa’s make a commitment to our students to teach the subjects well and therefore try to make the world a more compassionate and inspiring place.