“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
A passion for history in all its myriad forms is what started the Living History Australia (LHA) journey back in 1998. LHA founder, Dr Terry Fitzsimmons, together with a small, dedicated group of professional re-enactors saw an opportunity to be able to share their passion for history with Australian students in a unique, fun and educational way.
Understanding the legalities and requirements of entering Australian schools, working with children and adhering to the curriculum became the first issues that LHA had to address. After much investigation, research and development, accreditation with Education Queensland and the Queensland Arts Council was sought. Those were the ‘good old days’ when in-school touring groups were still required to audition all of their programs to gain accreditation. For a very long time LHA was the only fully accredited historical in-school program touring in Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian schools. Although this accreditation is no longer required for educational programs in Australia, we still take great pride in our ability to obtain and retain these endorsements. We highly value our Blue Cards and Working with Children Checks and any form of certification that helps keep the standards of Australian in-school touring programs at a premium level.
We continue to refine and develop our programs to keep up to date with the changing needs of teachers in Australian classrooms from both a current historical/archaeological research perspective as well as a teaching/learning perspective. There are a plethora of studies and theories regarding the benefits of experiential learning and, at Living History Australia, we have found that children absorb and retain information more readily when they are actively participating in their learning journey.
We are the only historical in-school program in Australia that covers multiple time periods focusing on the eras and events that had the most influence on who Australians are today. This multi-period scope gives us the ability to walk students through time and show how human culture has been shaped by seemingly distant peoples beginning with the major civilisations of the Ancient World and moving through the Dark Ages and Medieval periods. We can then focus in on our own country and examine how the Australia that we live in today developed through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. This span means that we can cover topics learnt in all year levels from Grade 3/4 right through to Grade 10/11.
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”
It is often said that to understand ourselves we must understand our past. To understand our common humanity, we must “use historical knowledge as the compass to position ourselves on the map of human geography” (John Henrik Clarke). These days, more than ever, we at LHA feel that part of our responsibility as educators, is to give our young people…our future leaders, explorers, philosophers, scientists, creators, inventors and thinkers…all the knowledge, skills, understanding and compassion we can to ensure a bright future for our planet and for humanity.
“Why on earth does it matter what happened long ago? The answer is that History is inescapable … it connects things through time … all people are living histories: communities speak languages that are inherited from the past, live in societies with complex cultures, traditions and religions that have not been created on the spur of the moment, use technologies that they have not themselves invented … understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human. That, in a nutshell, is why History matters. It is not just ‘useful’, it is essential.”