A guest post by Alwyn Poole:
History is primarily about people and their interactions in time and space. What we know of it depends on many factors such as whether someone survived to tell the story, how they told/recorded it, were they on the “winning side”, how events are seen in the rear-view mirror (especially in a generation as conspicuously self-righteous as ours), and in terms of current struggles.
I have just completed Tom Scott’s wonderful biography on a NZ man many regard as the bravest man of WW2: Charles Upham VC & Bar (a way of making two Victoria Cross awards). Scott is clearly no fan of war and is careful to detail the horror of it while acknowledging that sometimes it is necessary to fight them. He also meticulously researched the character of Upham through secondary and primary sources to discover, in part, what made him so good at removing enemy soldiers from the theatre of battle while also being a leader with qualities seldom seen to such an extent.
The book is so well written, the story so compelling, the time axial to the world (let alone NZ) that I would make it COMPULSORY history reading for EVERY NZ student. A non-sensical thing for me to suggest of course.
Here-in lies a big problem that many New Zealanders will be unaware of. From 2022 NZ Children are going to be taught a fully “prescribed” NZ History Curriculum. This from PM Ardern:
“We have listened carefully to the growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about our own history and identity.
The National Curriculum currently enables schools and kura to decide how New Zealand history is covered, but variation in delivery means too much is left to chance in the teaching and learning of New Zealand history, Jacinda Ardern said
“The curriculum changes we are making will reset a national framework so all learners and ākonga are aware of key aspects of New Zealand history and how they have influenced and shaped the nation.”
From the Ministry of Education:
We want the next generation to be able to apply lessons from the past as they shape our future.
The Ministry of Education will work collaboratively to develop a New Zealand histories update with historical and curriculum experts, iwi and mana whenua, Pacific communities, the sector, students and ākonga, parents and whānau, and other groups with a strong interest in shaping how New Zealand history is taught.
From a Waikato University Professor:
New Zealand history will stand alone as a prescribed subject.
Will Charles Upham VC & Bar make the cut?