This study attempts to evolve principles and procedures, appropriate to guide the development of a curriculum for the teaching of History in Queensland secondary schools. To achieve this there is reference to both theory and practice. That is, theories related to the nature of historical knowledge and to curriculum design are juxtaposed against what has happened in practice in Queensland secondary schools, especially since 1950.
In no sense is this a quantitative study. In fact after defining the problem and terms under investigation, the thesis begins by justifying its historical methodological approach, and thus its use of what is often known as illuminative research.
The first chapter also evolves the curriculum design model which is later applied to an analysis of historical knowledge, (Chapter 2), and curriculum theory, (Chapter 3). In Chapter 4 the design model provides a framework against which to trace the history of History teaching in Queensland secondary schools. The final chapter, (5), relates theory and practice to produce theoretically sound, and practical, design principles.
The principles and practical suggestions found throughout Chapter 5, (and not only in the summary section), represent the major conclusions of this study, but they are not the only ones of significance. For example, the examination of teaching practice in Chapter 4 reveals a number of administrative, structural and cultural constraints which have militated against a rapid improvement in the quality of history teaching. This thesis should assist policy planners at various levels of the education system, including teachers, to understand such constraints, and to develop strategies for removing them.
In the interests of improving educational standards, the evidence from this study indicates that strategies aimed at encouraging a return to the teaching styles and curriculum practices of the pre-1970's are mistaken. In most dimensions history teaching in the past has been of a lower standard than it is in 1983.
In attempting to provide a definitive statement about the nature of historical education in Queensland, whilst acknowledging recent developments in curriculum theory the thesis breaks new ground. By providing principles of design for history teachers it places teachers at the centre of the design process, and should facilitate the translation of this new knowledge into practice. The format of this thesis is also intended to encourage practical innovation by allowing easy access to relevant information. Thus it should not be necessary to read the entire thesis from start to finish in order to extract some conclusions. A reader concerned with assessment of students, for example, may first read that section of Chapter 1 concerned with the place of assessment in the overall curriculum design process. Parts of Chapter 2 concerned with, "criteria and processes for the validation of historical analysis- and narrative", may then be read; and, having gained some idea of how historians assess one another's work, comparisons could then be made with what curriculum theorists have to say about assessment, (Chapter 3). Tentative conclusions about the nature of historical assessments could then be compared and contrasted with the assessment practices of Queensland history teachers over the years, (Chapter 4 Section iv). Although hopefully it would encourage a more thorough perusal, such a 'depth study' approach to reading this thesis should enhance understanding of the principles and suggestions made in Chapter 3.
Above all else this thesis should prove useful to history teachers who are interested in developing their understandings of history as a discipline, and in improving the ways they teach.