What’s new in ACARA’s new Geography F-6 curriculum: World place knowledge

9780195527933There are many new approaches in the new Australian Geography curriculum (Version 5.0; May 2013), and I am thrilled to be teaching it all. Here, though, I will talk about the emphasis on place knowledge and particularly world place knowledge. The fact that by the end of the primary years of schooling students are expected to have a basic knowledge of all continents of the world and their location on a map is a good thing, and long overdue. I have published elsewhere1 my concerns about young Australian children being ignorant of world geography, while at the same time being attuned to global issues, particularly frightening world events (bombings, wars, tsunamis, earthquakes). One young student struck a chord with me when, in response to my question as to where the Bali bombings took place, she replied, ‘near Tommy’s place’. She knew about the catastrophic events, but because she lacked a perception of just how large the world is she thought that the bombings must have occurred in her neighbourhood somewhere. How terrifying that must have been for her!

I am excited about how much scope and imperative there is to explore the wider world in the new Geography curriculum. Starting in Year 2, teachers are encouraged to use students’ already acquired connections to other places, then build on this by introducing new places through varied, interesting activities. Building on students’ pre knowledge makes so much sense, as it motivates and engages them. One website I have used recently is Australia Post’s. The stamps, which often feature exotic Australian locales, provide a beginning point to examine places, and associated themes, in Australia and overseas: students can locate them on large wall or floor maps. Arts activities can also be developed to tie in with this. By the way, do you know you can print off large maps from the National Geographic website for free? Also from National Geographic, check out the educators’ ideas pages that include ideas to make your classroom geography-rich across the curriculum.

Our Australian children do tend to know more of the world many thousands of miles away than they do of our closer neighbours, but resources for teaching about the Pacific and some of our less well known neighbours are starting to emerge. Start with this Global Education’s resources, which will help you as a teacher, and also look at the World Vision resources for classroom teaching ideas.

Lastly, an idea to link primary Geography with primary History. After its very popular 2013 exhibition of rare maps of Australia, the National Library of Australia produced a great reference book of old historical maps of Australia. You can purchase the book (named Mapping our World: Terra Incognita after the exhibition), but the Library also sells packets of postcard sized historical maps. These are ideal for stimulating discussion about how others may have viewed our world in the past and what these countries look like now on our various world maps. Great fun for map buffs and good for teachers and students!

Ruth_ReynoldsRuth Reynolds is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle with over twenty years’ teaching experience in primary classrooms and author of Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences in the Primary School.

1 Reynolds, R. (2004). Children’s attitudes to the world. The Social Educator, 22(3), 52–62; Reynolds, R. (2005). What do our children think of the world? Ethos, 13(4), 6–14.

Social media for educators: Joining a Twitter conversation

Spending time with other teachers provides a great opportunity for the sharing of resources and experiences, the exchange of advice, and offers a way to discover new teaching ideas that can be used with students. However the reality is that many teachers simply don’t have the time for this type of professional development. This is where social media channels, such as Twitter, can make a difference.

Twitter can offer an excellent alternative to face-to-face peer meetings for time-poor teachers. Along with finding links to useful resources and staying up-to-date on the latest curriculum news, educators using Twitter can also ‘meet’ fellow teachers not just from their local area but from all over the world, providing the chance to share learning and teaching experiences with others.

Joining a Twitter conversation
New to Twitter? Not sure where to start? Joining and contributing to a conversation is a great starting point for educators. A Twitter conversation is an organised discussion around a certain theme that is characterised by the use of a pre-determined ‘hashtag’. Using the hashtag symbol (#) turns a word into a link, making it easier to find and follow a specific conversation. No one person ‘owns’ the hashtag, making it an open discussion, although a good conversation is usually chaired by one user to ensure that the discussion stays on track.

Many conversations have agreed start times, where users go online to chat about a certain topic for an agreed duration of time. To join in the conversation, Twitter users simply tweet questions or ‘replies’ using the agreed hashtag, meaning that their tweet can be seen by anyone following the conversation and therefore engaged with.

A hashtag conversation doesn’t ‘disappear’ once the chat has finished of course, so for those who couldn’t join in at the time, it can be searched for afterwards and read through at a more convenient time. Some educational communities are curating their conversations exactly for this purpose, and will create an edited version in Storify or another content sharing tool.

Ready to dive in? Here are hashtags for some conversations that are happening right now!:

© Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand 2015

As a teacher, do you use Twitter to exchange ideas with fellow educators? Let us know how you use Twitter and if you have any other great hashtag suggestions.

And don’t forget to follow us!

The War with the Ottoman Empire

The War with the Ottoman EmpireThe Great War looms very large in Australian society and culture, something which the commemoration of the centenary years emphasises but certainly didn’t create. Some of the stories about the Great War are ill-informed, prone to sentimentality and dominated by myths and popular beliefs.

Australia’s part in the war with the Ottomans exemplifies these tendencies perfectly. The least important part of it – the eight-month campaign at Gallipoli – has been privileged in Australian culture and history to a degree that is out of proportion both to the losses incurred (whether relative or absolute) and the contribution it made to the war’s outcome, which was precisely nil.

The tendency to break the war in this part of the world into discrete theatres and to see them in isolation compounds the problem. The Gallipoli campaign didn’t just fail because of indifferent British leadership, poor planning or the inability of gallant Austral manhood to prevail against terrain, climate and a tenacious and skilled enemy, although these all played a part. The army sent to conquer the Dardanelles was chronically under-resourced, as were armies in every other theatre of British activity in 1915. This situation was made worse by the opening of new fronts – principally in Salonika – for what seemed like pressing reasons but which ensured that the British armies were dominant nowhere, whether attacking in France, defending Egypt, attempting to advance towards Baghdad or building and training the new formations that would be needed for the great offensives of 1916. The base areas in Egypt were given responsibility for supporting the Dardanelles army, but lacked resources for this task and could not afford to strip Egypt’s defences and risk a successful Ottoman offensive against the Suez Canal.

Strategic direction from London was confused and sometimes contradictory for much of the war, but gradually Britain’s efforts were rationalised so that in the second half of the war there were two main efforts – the Western Front, which had absolute priority, and Egypt and Sinai, which was consistently the second-most important British effort. Emergency situations would also arise – the need for aid to the Italian front in early 1918, for example – but the British war against the Ottomans was always an important sphere of activity.

Australians made a very significant (though never crucial or war-winning) contribution in this sphere, one that is now very largely misunderstood when it is noted at all. Australian understanding of the campaigns in Sinai and then through Palestine and Syria tend to ignore anyone else’s participation, and to focus in a rather sentimental manner on the light horse as mounted troops rather than as a military capability (manoeuvre, mobility and shock action). The conflict over the Ottoman territories was the only phase of the war in which forces from all six major combatant empires (British, French, Ottoman, German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian) fought, with the British Empire armies drawing contributions from Britain itself, Australia, New Zealand, India and Egypt, as well as smaller contingents from lesser British territories. Australians contributed less than half of the mounted forces in Allenby’s army in 1917–18, and the mounted corps of which they were an important part was but one corps out of three in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

The general belief in the martial virtues of the light horse is not entirely accurate, either. A link is often drawn between the ‘mounted infantry’ role of these units with a belief in ‘colonial’ initiative and supposedly ‘natural soldier’ tendencies among Australians, but much of this is romantic nonsense. There is no such thing as a ‘natural soldier’; soldiers are produced through hard training, good leadership, sound doctrine and a host of other factors which know no nationality. In any case, as the British forces advanced ever further into Ottoman territory the nature of the terrain and the fighting changed. Light horse units had engaged in mounted charges against Ottoman positions as early as December 1916, and in the first half of 1917 there was considerable discussion about the need for training along cavalry lines and even for issuing swords to the Australian units. By 1918 this was exactly what happened, and implied a more professional approach to the business of soldiering. Indeed, by 1918 there was very little about the Australian units in Egypt and Palestine that was in any way amateurish. By the war’s last year the mounted units had taken their first steps towards motorisation, a trend that would be accelerated in the course of the interwar period.

Gallipoli aside, the four-year war against the Ottoman Empire has few monuments in Australia, and even fewer at the sites over which Australians fought. For obvious reasons these are mostly impossible to visit now. Australians made a significant contribution to the campaigns which led to the destruction of the Ottoman Empire nonetheless, and in understanding the consequences of those actions it is important to understand what that generation of Australians did, and why they did it.

The War with the Ottoman Empire is the second volume The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War Series.

Grey_JeffreyAuthor, Jeffrey Grey, is a professor of history at UNSW Canberra. The author and editor of many books on Australian and international military history, he sits on a number of scholarly editorial boards in Australia, Britain and the United States.

Literary inspiration for your Valentine message

ImpressionNeed inspiration for a romantic phrase to write in the card to your valentine? Or a sweet phrase for a DM Valentine tweet?! Why not let the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations inspire you? Here are some lovestruck quotations to help you express your feelings on that most romantic of days:

My heart was not in me but with you, and now,
even more, if it is not with you it is nowhere.
Letter to Peter Abelard (c.1132), Heloise

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
Songs and Sonnet ‘The Bait’, John Donne

Night and day, you are the one,
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun.
‘Night and Day’ (1932 song) in Gay Divorce, Cole Porter

My true love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other giv’n.
Arcadia (1581), Philip Sidney

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old.
‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ (1919), W.B.Yeats

But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning.
‘Walsinghame’, Walter Raleigh

Oh, what a dear ravishing thing is the beginning of an Amour!
The Emperor of the Moon (1687), Aphra Behn

Hear my soul speak:
The very instant that I saw you, did
My heart fly to your service.
The Tempest (c.1610), William Shakespeare


And if you are also interested in the philosophy of love, you may like to read Very Short Introduction: Love which attempts to answer the ‘big’ questions about eros or romantic love. Do we love someone for their virtue, their beauty, or their morals or other qualities? Are love’s characteristic desires altruistic or selfish? Are there duties of love? And what do the sciences – neuroscience, evolutionary and social psychology, and anthropology – tell us about love?

Do you have a favourite quotation about love and romance? We would love to hear it!

Written by Nicola Weideling, Marketing Operations Manager

Which classic have you always wanted to read?

To celebrate the launch of a new reading group, the Oxford World’s Classics team asked staff in Oxford offices around the world – which Oxford World’s Classic have you always wanted to read?

And it got us talking here in the office; were we prepared to answer that question? Were any of us prepared to admit to NOT reading certain ‘classics’?! Here are our answers:

9780199535729“I’ve always wanted to read Moby Dick and my interest was renewed again recently when I read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (which references this classic).”
Sascha, Editorial, Primary Education

9780199535675“Definitely Ulysses by James Joyce. It seems great but the prospect of reading it scares me!”
Alex, Publishing, Higher Education

9780199219766Great Expectations (or anything by Dickens). I just feel like this is one of the classics you are supposed to have read during your lifetime but it keeps managing to slip
down my ‘to-read’ list each year!”
Stephanie, Marketing, Higher Education

9780199232765“Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. This was sold to me as a must read, a “master of fiction” – 1,400 pages and lots of Russian names have deterred me so far, but this is on the bucket list!”
Ann, Sales Operations

Don-Quixote-Cervantes-9780199537891“I would love to finish Don Quixote but I never seem to be able to get into the right headspace. Shall aim to finally finish more than 20 pages in 2015…”
Jessica, Compliance

9780199672066“Sherlock Holmes stories. Arthur Conan Doyle created such a fascinating character that has spawned many enthralling adaptations (Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation is my fav!). I feel I owe it to the author to read his original creation.
Amanda, Editorial, Secondary Education

9780199536498“I hesitate to incriminate myself but I have still not read Pamela by Samuel Richardson, even though I studied his novels during my English Literature degree!”
Nicola, Marketing Operations

9780199541898Find out more about the Oxford World’s Classics reading group, and the title of the first book under discussion, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

What’s in a name? Charles Dickens born on this day

charles-dickens-imageCharles Dickens was born on 7 February in 1812. Author of more than a dozen novels, many short stories, plays and non-fiction pieces, Dickens is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. He was also active as a social critic and used his novels to highlight injustices and inequities suffered by the poor.

T.S.Eliot wrote that: “Charles Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of characters of greater intensity than human beings.” This is shown in the characters who have passed into popular usage as epithets; who hasn’t referred to a miserly friend as a ‘scrooge’?! And others may call someone obsessed with facts and statistics as a ‘gradgrind’.

Charles Dickens had an amazing faculty for creating character names that conjured up entire personalities in just a few words. According to Dickens’ biographer, John Foster, “…[Dickens made his] characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves.” He created over 650 characters for his novels, naming each one with thought and care.

Dickens particularly excelled in inventing names for his villains; using dissonant, awkward-sounding syllables to create names that readers would stumble on and instinctively react negatively to, that would require a performer to hiss or sneer them when read aloud to an audience. Uriah Heep, Wackford Squeers, Daniel Quilp are all names that are so distinctive, so implicitly unpleasant, it’s difficult not to judge them. Of course, it’s not just the villainous names that are memorable to readers of his novels: Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Charles Darnay, Little Nell, Oliver Twist – all are instantly recognised as Dickens characters.

If Dickens was writing about you today, what would your character name be? Would you seen as a hero or a villain? Why not use the Charles Dickens name generator from namenerds and find out?! Apparently I would be Totty Squilcomb, which I think puts me in the hero, or at least likeable, camp; I love it and may now only answer to this name…

Written by Totty Squilcomb (aka Nicola Weideling, OUP ANZ Marketing Operations Manager)

To purchase copies of any of the Oxford World’s Classics Charles Dickens’ novels go to our website.



Oxford Word of the Month – February: Eggshell blonde

eggshell-blondeEggshell blonde – noun: (also eggshell blond) a man with a bald head.

Three Polished Gentlemen. Never before in the history of Sale have so many ‘egg-shell blonds’ graced the business side of a bar than when three perfect specimens dispensed good cheer at a Sale hostelry t’other afternoon. Two, up from Melbourne, were assisting the licensee. Said one when he saw the polished cranium of the local: ‘Take your wig off’. One customer, a billiards enthusiast, asked which was the spot ball. (Gippsland Times, 12 April 1951)

As this article in the Gippsland Times illustrates, eggshell blonde is used in Australian English as a humorous euphemism for a bald person. The eggshell element is derived from the similarity of a bald head to the shape and smooth texture of a hen’s egg; the blonde element is ironic, and is used in a similar way in other Australian terms such as bushfire blonde for ‘a redhead’. The use of the term may have been influenced by the colloquial term egghead, originally American, denoting a ‘highbrow’, or person of intellect, which increased in frequency in the Australian media from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The first evidence for eggshell blonde comes from a newspaper report of a dinner held in honour of Tommy Dunn, retiring from a long career with the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission of New South Wales: ‘It was a very happy function, with many good humored references to the “Egg-Shell Blonde”—a sally at the guest’s bald pate.’ (Murrumbidgee Irrigator, 25 August 1944) Other early evidence occurs in a discussion of proper etiquette in the Women’s Section of a Brisbane newspaper:

Until now it seemed impossible to reach agreement on the question whether a man should or should not remove his hat when travelling in a lift with a woman. Personally, I sat on the fence about it. Woman-like, I notice and appreciate the little courtesy. Yet I also feel sympathy towards those men whom Jack Davey calls ‘eggshell blondes’, who feel a chill when travelling hatless in a draught. (Courier-Mail, 10 September 1947)

Evidence for eggshell blonde peaks in the 1950s, but tails off rapidly during the second half of the 20th century. A rare occurrence of the term in the 1970s appears in a description of the audience at a jazz convention:

There are ruddy egg-shell blondes, the rotund and bearded ones and the lean, tanned and long-haired men, the busty wenches in granny skirts, the startling red-haired, slim girl in the multihued dress and the lithe and lissom chicks in a variety of apparel, all of it eyecatching. (Canberra Times, 29 December 1973)

In 1992 Australian writer Kathy Lette used it in her novel Llama Parlour: ‘The only good thing was that, with his clean shaven head—an egg-shell blond we called it at home—nobody had recognised him.’ Despite this example, much of the evidence in recent years is only found in glossaries, or has a historical reference. However, there is the occasional bit of evidence suggesting that it is still used and remembered by some Australians:

Going bald has been one of my worst fears for decades. It began early, watching my father’s thatch dwindle to almost nothing. By the time I was a teenager, he was what is euphemistically known as an eggshell blonde. He claimed his baldness was due to an expanding brain, and they do say you can’t grow grass on a busy street. (Brisbane News, 18 January 2012)

Eggshell blonde will be included in the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary. To find out more about Australian slang, why not check out the ozwords blog.