Human Society and Its Environment British Colonization in Australia Essay

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Barracks Ed

A Visit to the Hyde Park Barracks: Educational Opportunities in the Human Society and its Environment Framework

The Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney have been included in the group of Australian Convict Sites listed collectively as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations due to the impact on world history and the commentary on colonial culture that it stands as a testament to (DEWHA 2008; AVC 2010). Designed in 1819 by one of Australia's most prominent and earliest architects, English-born convict Francis Greenway, there is a complex interaction of artistic, cultural, social, and economic significance to the building (DEWHA 2008; AVC 2010). The facts of the Hyde Park Barracks' design and construction through convict labor is a significant and intriguing detail on its own, but the different uses to which this building has been put greatly increase the political and social significance of the site (AsiaRooms 2010; HHT 2010). First used to house convicts, many (if not most) of whom had taken part in the construction of the barracks, by the middle of the nineteenth century the barracks became a site of temporary housing for female immigrants, and eventually became known as the Hyde Park Asylum, to whose walls destitute women were directed when out of other options (AVC 2010; HHT 2010; DEWHA 2008).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Human Society and Its Environment British Colonization in Australia Assignment

The Hyde Park Barracks were joined by other public buildings housing government offices in 1887, with the barracks becoming a sort of hub with its own offices (HHT 2010). Since 1970, it has operates as a museum and offers many educational opportunities for scholars of all ages (HHT 2010; DEWHA 2008). The educational opportunities that exist with a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum may seem rather self-evident given the complex and rich -- not to mention controversial -- history of the building and its uses, yet a discussion of some specific lesson plans related to the educational framework of Human Society and its Environments (HSIE) can help to draw out even more clearly the specific significance of this site in terms of its political, cultural, social, and economic impact at various points in Australia's and the world's history. Provided below are an introductory lesson to be conducted prior to a classroom or group's visit to the Hyde Park Barracks; a lesson plan to be conducted at the site itself, and that in fact attempts to unify the entire museum experience by linking the historic progression of the site to ongoing progressions in social and cultural needs and values; and a wrap-up lesson taking place in the classroom following a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks that allows for reflection on the visit and the information obtained.

Pre-Excursion Activity

Prior to a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, possibly even over a succession of days leading up to the visit, brief instructional and/or reading lessons with discussion can be used to familiarize students with the various periods of the site's history. A pre-excursion lesson that builds on this familiarity and incorporates discussion as well as building anticipation and creating a focus for the excursion itself is ideal as an immediate precursor to departing on the trip. One such lesson involves dividing the class into smaller groups of four or five students each, and telling them to imagine that they are leaving their current home to become a resident at the barracks at a certain point in its history -- as convicts, as immigrants, as destitute individuals, or even as government officials. Each group of students is responsible for identifying three items available during the historical period to which they are assigned (or volunteer for) that they would like to bring with them to aid in teir life at the barracks. After discussion in groups, with the instructor(s) guiding as necessary, the groups will each make a presentation of their items and why they were selected to the rest of the class. This can also involve classroom discussion of the items selected, how different they are from modern items or discussions of their contemporary relevance, and their appropriateness to the circumstances in which they would hypothetically be used.

This fulfills the CCS2.1 outcome of the HSIE guidelines in asking students to place themselves in different social and historical perspectives, examining issues of Australian colonization from the point-of-view of disenfranchised individuals, sent as both a colonial and a penal unit (HSIE 2006). This also clearly fulfills the CCS3.1 outcome, making the significance of various cultural groups in Australia's history very clear and hopefully viscerally as well as intellectually understood (HSIE 2006).

Excursion Activity

During the excursion, children should be partnered off into pairs for reasons of safety as well as to provide a more interactive yet individualized educational experience. In order to unify the trip as a whole, making it clear that certain larger cultural, political, and social elements continued to play a role in the history of the barracks through each period of its use, students should be asked to engage in brief yet frequent role playing activities with their partners at each (or several) major stop in the museum experience. The student pairs will be asked to identify a conflict between individuals or classes/groups of individuals as displayed in the museum's features and exhibits, and each student is to represent one side in the conflict. They will explain the problem as they see it, express their desired resolution to the conflict and present the reasons that they believe this resolution to be an equitable one. Students will then switch sides and attempt to explain the situation from the other point-of-view, explaining why their previously proposed solution is inadequate.

Though this activity is asking for a great deal of situational analysis, it can prove rewarding and educational even for younger age groups incapable of accounting for the complexities of the political and cultural issues at hand. This activity also fulfills HSIE outcomes CCS2.1 and CCS3.1 by again encouraging students to take on the perspective of the historical groups and figures they encounter, and indeed to take on multiple perspectives so that they can see that each group/figure has a different way of viewing the problems that were collectively (and arguably collectively created) during the colonization of Australia. This will also help students arrive at their own understanding of the validity of the various perspectives held by the markedly different social and cultural classes in Australia's history.

Post-Excursion Activity

Following the excursion to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, there is likely to be a great deal of excitement and energy amongst the student group. As a means of restoring focus and some semblance of calm in the classroom while allowing the continuation of what will likely prove to be passionate recollections and reflections of the excursion, another lesson based initially on group discussion is warranted. Dividing the class into groups of four or five students again (possibly the same groups as were used in the pre-excursion activity, though specifically different groups might be preferable based on classroom dynamics), group discussions of the experience of individuals within specific historical periods represented by the barracks should again be engaged in. These discussions should focus on what was learned during the tip, and the experience-level understandings of life in the barracks at one of the periods of its use. Students should then individually compose a letter to a friend or family member as though they had been living in the barracks for a year, describing their experience. Encouraging students to choose diverse identities from within each historical period and understanding the struggles and the successes that would have been felt by a variety of individuals allows for a meaningful and personal reflection on the excursion.

This fulfills HSIE outcomes CCS2.1 and CCS3.1 by having students discuss the cultural, social, political, and economic issues they were exposed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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