“Being a history conference, ‘Breaking Boundaries’ sets the scene for significant historical events … so from a history topics perspective, breaking boundaries is something that has a lot of relevance to history teachers,” explains Pip Macdonald, president of the Queensland History Teachers’ Association, which is hosting this year’s event, held in September at All Hallows’ School in Brisbane.
Macdonald says delegates can expect to a few pedagogical boundaries broken as well. Among this year’s keynote speakers are Sydney Morning Herald sports columnist, author and radio presenter Peter FitzSimons, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice commissioner Dr June Oscar AO.
“She’s just recently been appointed [an Order of Australia], and she has a really rich history mainly in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and she’s been working through issues to do with social justice and women’s issues … she’s going to be talking about the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, [which was] the report looking at issues relating to the Stolen Generation,” Macdonald elaborates.
Another interesting keynote presenter is Professor Alistair Blanshard from the Queensland University of Technology, who is set to speak about ancient Greek warfare and social division.
One unusual presentation is a panel featuring Associate Professor Deborah Henderson, Dr Brian Hoepper, and John Whitehouse. The panel will be accompanied by graphic artist Jessamy Gee. “She’s going to be designing and creating infographics while they speak, and again that’s hedging into the ‘breaking boundaries theme,” Macdonald explains.
In addition to the speakers and panels, the conference will include excursions to nearby museums.
“…One of the excursions is to the Queensland Museum to the gladiators exhibit, and there’s another one that runs during the day ... that’s going to a museum on the northern side of Brisbane, and that’s exploring Australia’s connection with the rebel in 1919-1945; so that’s a bit of a World War I- World War II Papua New Guinean connection,” Macdonald adds.
Regarding what she hopes teachers will take away from the conference, Macdonald says there is an “underlying need” for teachers to help students engage in humanities as it encourages them to be “creative and critical thinkers.”