Jewish History for Years 11 and 12

December 18, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Masada and the Holocaust will take their place as compulsory subjects for students electing to study Ancient and/or Modern History in Years 11 and 12 in Australian schools.

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has cautiously welcomed the Federal government’s National Education Curriculum for Ancient History and Modern History in Years 11 and 12. The final versions were published on Thursday by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Executive Director, Peter Wertheim, described the new national curriculum for each subject as “a significant improvement” on the draft versions that were published earlier.

“The electives for study in the Ancient History curriculum for Years 11-12 include Israel and Judah during the approximately 400-year long First Temple period and the ancient site of Masada immediately after the destruction of the Second Temple,” Wertheim said. “The content description for Masada is far from perfect, but overall the treatment of ancient Jewish history in the curriculum is balanced and accurate, and corrects several factual and conceptual errors that the ECAJ highlighted in its submission to ACARA”.
In the modern history curriculum there is a unit on “Germany 1918 –1945”. The content description includes “Nazi ideology”, “Nazi policies of antisemitism” and “the Holocaust”, which the ECAJ submission argued strongly should be included. “For
students who choose Modern History as a subject in Years 11 and 12, this unit will provide an opportunity for a more in-depth study of the Holocaust and the ideology and events leading to it. It will build on the basic study of the Holocaust which is part of the mandatory history curriculum for all students up to Year 10”, Wertheim said.
Wertheim also pointed to the Modern History elective entitled “The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East”, the original draft of which he said “contained factual errors and tendentious language”. “The ECAJ submission successfully made the case for these deficiencies in the content description to be rectified and the final version is a much better quality document.”
Wertheim praised Jewish educators Susi Brieger, Avril Alba, Suzanne Rutland, Konrad Kwiet, Gil Davis and Mariela Sztrum, saying, “The community is in their debt for their invaluable input into the ECAJ’s submissions. We need many more educators of their calibre. As a community, we invest far too little in Jewish education at the University level”.

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