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Video clip synopsis – Powerhouse Museum Curator Dr Kimberley Webber looks at how collections bring to life Australian stories in museums.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 3min 24sec
Tags - Australian History, communities, culture, family life, feminism, Learning Journey History, national identity, representations, see all tags


An Australian Wedding, 1968

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About the Video Clip


Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year panels of three secondary students, selected from schools Australia-wide, interview leading decision-makers on important current issues. The panels participate in a ‘learning journey’ (researching the issues and developing interview skills) to explore the issues and prepare for the forum.

This clip comes from a 2007 forum on the topic of “Australian history in the classroom”. The guest interviewed was The Hon. Julie Bishop MP, former Minister for Education, Science and Training. The interview panelists were NSW Year 12 students Sam Goldsmith from Masada College, Elliot Cameron from Fort Street High and Year 11 student Rosa Nolan from Sydney Girls’ High School. In preparation for the forum, students participated in a learning journey that involved interviewing Paul Kelly, editor-at-large of the Australian newspaper, Kimberley Webber, curator at the Powerhouse Museum, Nadia Wheatley, author and historian and Alistair Grierson, director of the film ‘Kokoda’.

Curriculum Focus


Go to The National Curriculum Statements for Civics and Citizenship
Teachers and students should consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.

Background Information


In the early days of the British colony in Australia, education was managed by church groups and private individuals. Between 1872 and 1895 Education Acts were passed which made “free, compulsory and secular” primary education a state responsibility. Currently all school education is administered by state and territory governments. All government and independent schools follow the learning outcomes set by the states or territories.

Whether schools should conform to a national framework or curriculum is presently the subject of national debate. National consistency in curriculum, testing and reporting, alongside performance pay for teachers and transparency of reporting procedures have been key features of this discussion. In specific reference to Australian history, the emphasis placed on this subject in the school curriculum has been much debated. The importance of teaching a national story, a defined body of historical knowledge and a clear set of historical skills has been identified by commentators, historians, academics and teachers as a priority in the construction of a national history curriculum.

Classroom Activities


Before you watch

  1. Find the websites of Australia’s major museums: National Museum of Australia, Powerhouse Museum, Queensland Museum, Museum Victoria, South Australian Museum, Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory, Australian Museum, Western Australian Museum and Tasmanian Museum and Gallery. Examine their collections and exhibitions and then try the following:
    1. List the themes presented in them. What stories are being told in these collections and exhibitions?
    2. Identify possible themes and stories not represented. Choose one or two from that list and use them in a role play with two characters. One character is to be the director of an imaginary Australian museum. The other character is to be a journalist interviewing the director. The journalist is attempting to find out why the chosen theme or story is not represented in the museum; the director is attempting to explain the reasons why that is the case.

While you watch

  1. Kimberley Webber refers to a collection of objects relating to weddings. List the objects identified so that later on, you are able to try the following:
    1. Create a drawing of what you think each object looks like
    2. Write a brief description of the object – no more than 25 words.
    3. Write a description of the story behind the object – no more than 200 words.
    4. Combine the above to create a presentation, which may be in the following format: large poster, series of small posters, book style or 3D using free-standing modules or perhaps a hanging mobile form.

After you watch

  1. In pairs in your class, share with each other a story from your family. It may be about a relative who is no longer living or perhaps someone in the family who lives overseas
    1. Take your story and turn it into a song, rap or poem. You may like to ‘embellish’ the story with a little fiction or just stick to the facts. Perform your piece for others in your class.
    2. What are the stories of domestic life, work and migration in your local community? Find out at least one by visiting a local museum, historical society or library, or by using the internet. Present your findings in a newspaper article style i.e. headline, main points, sources of information. You may like to use desktop publishing software to give your text an authentic newspaper article appearance.

Further Resources


National Museum of Australia Talkback Classroom

ABC Archives and Library Services’ ‘1960s timeline’