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Background to the VELS - The Humanities − History domain

Humanities – History was part of the Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) key learning area (along with Geography and Economy and society) in the Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF) II, the previous curriculum guidelines for Victorian schools.

The content of the history domain and the key concepts have largely remained the same as in the CSF II. However there is stronger and more explicit emphasis on discipline skills and nature of historical thinking though the dimension of Historical reasoning and interpretation in the VELS.

At Levels 1–3 History was part of Society and Environment (along with Geography and Economy and society) within the CSF II, within the VELS, historical knowledge and skills are located within the Humanities (along with Geography and Economics). Both the CSF II and the VELS introduced History as an identifiable discipline with specific knowledge and skills at Level 4 (Years 5 and 6).

Given the crossover between History in the CSF II and History in the VELS, the CSF II remains a valuable resource for teachers of history in the VELS.

Levels 1–2 | Level 3 | Level 4 | Level 5 | Level 6 | Show All

Levels 1–2

The VELS and the CSF II introduce students to historical knowledge and skills through family and local contexts. For this domain, there are no standards at Levels 1 and 2. However, the learning focus at those levels provide advice about ways learning experiences can be incorporated into curriculum to assist students to work towards achievement of the standards at Level 3.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

CSF II learning outcomes

The Humanities

Levels 1–2
Standards are introduced at Level 3.

Learning focus statement Level 1
As students work towards the achievement of Level 3 standards in the Humanities, they draw on their own experience to help them understand the world around them. Through activities such as developing personal and family timelines, examining photographs and buildings, and visits from community members, they learn about the concepts of time – chronology and sequencing, and change and continuity.

Through reading and listening to narratives, including personal stories, and participating in celebrations students begin to learn about the cultures and histories that have contributed to Australian society and by seeing and hearing about other places outside their experience they begin to consider how and why other times and places are different from their own.

Learning focus statement: Level 2
As students work towards the achievement of Level 3 standards in the Humanities, they develop their understanding of the concepts of time – chronology and sequencing, and change and continuity – through a study of changes in the local community over time. By comparing the experiences and artefacts of their daily lives with those of their parents, grandparents and other community members, students reflect on how life at home and in the community has changed.

Students develop their awareness of spatial concepts and use terms that demonstrate an understanding of absolute and relative locations. With guidance, they recognise and point to their street, town or city and state on an appropriate map. They recognise the globe as a model representation of Earth and can locate Australia and other places with which they have links. Students learn to identify and name physical features and distinguish them on the basis of variables, including size (scale/height/distribution) and colour. Through observation, they investigate and describe elements of the natural and built environments in their local area.

By examining artefacts and listening to the oral history of relatives, teachers and community members, students become aware of the various types of geographical and historical evidence. They begin to make basic comparisons between 'then' and 'now' and learn to construct simple timelines to show their understanding. By observing the characteristics of different places, and prompted by questions, students think about environmental differences, locally and in other parts of Australia and the world, and why these differences exist. They begin to grasp the role and importance of the various cultural groups that make up the Australian community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They explore what their local area might have looked like before European settlement.

Levels 1–2

1.1 Describe aspects of the student's life in familiar environments.

Level 2 – Community and participation

2.1 Examine change over time in the local community and environment.

Levels 3

Specific standards for the History domain are not introduced until Level 4. Standards for History (along with Geography) are introduced via The Humanities standards in the VELS. The VELS also introduces Historical reasoning and interpretation at Level 4 which focuses on the nature of historical thinking and processes.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

CSF II learning outcomes

Level 3 – Humanities knowledge and understanding
At Level 3, students describe and sequence some key events in Australian history, some key commemorations and celebrations including Anzac Day, and key aspects of the histories of cultural groups that make up their class, community and nation. They describe how aspects of places in their local area have changed over time. From direct observation or observation of a variety of media, they describe the human and physical characteristics of their local area and other parts of Victoria. They describe how people use and affect different environments in Victoria.

Humanities Skills
At Level 3, students use a range of historical evidence, including oral history, artefacts, narratives and pictures, to retell events and describe historical characters. They develop simple timelines to show events in sequence. They explain some of the differences between different types of historical evidence, and frame questions to further explore historical events. Students draw simple maps and plans of familiar environments observing basic mapping conventions. They identify the location of places on a simple map using an alphanumeric grid and describe direction using the four cardinal compass points. Using atlas maps and a globe, they locate and name the states and territories of Australia.

Level 3 – Australia’s people and places

3.1 Explain the contribution of different cultures to the growth of Australia’s diverse society.

Levels 4

Specific standards for the History domain are introduced in the VELS at Level 4. The content and key concepts have largely remained the same as in the CSF II. As for other levels in VELS History there are explicit standards for historical thinking and processes.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

CSF II learning outcomes

Level 4 – Historical knowledge and understanding
At Level 4, students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of significant events in Australian history including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, European settlement, the development of the colonies, the development of the wool industry, the 1850s gold rushes; the moves to self-government, Federation; and World War I. They demonstrate an understanding of the histories of some cultural groups which make up Australia today. They make links and appropriate comparisons with contemporary Australia.

Students demonstrate an understanding of key aspects of an Asian country or countries within the Australian region. They explain significant events and people in the history of that country or countries. They describe aspects of governance, customs, religious traditions and daily life. They explain the values important to other societies and their own and links between other countries and Australia.

They compare and contrast the values and beliefs of Australians and people of other cultures. They compare aspects of different cultures and countries, in both the past and present, and ask questions about their own society. They sequence events and describe their significance in bringing about particular developments.

Level 4 – Historical Reasoning and Interpretation
At Level 4, students use a range of primary and secondary sources to investigate the past. With support, they frame research questions and plan their own inquiries. They comprehend and question sources and make judgments about the views being expressed, the completeness of the evidence, and the values represented. They use appropriate historical language and concepts to develop historical explanations. They present their understandings in a range of forms.

Level 4 History

4.1 Demonstrate knowledge about how the organisation and lifestyle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have changed over time.

4.2 Explain significant events and people in Australia’s history for the period 1788–1918.

4.3 Describe significant events and people in the recent history of an Asian country.

Levels 5

The analysis of ancient and medieval societies in the VELS is similar to the CSF II. As for other levels in VELS History there are explicit standards for historical thinking and processes.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

CSF II learning outcomes

Level 5 – Historical knowledge and understanding
At Level 5, students analyse and describe key events in ancient and medieval societies. They use a variety of sources to describe key aspects of these societies. They describe aspects of daily life in these societies such as work, the division of labour, family, clothing, housing and education. They explain key features of community life including myths and legends, religious beliefs and practices and cultural expressions such as art and drama. They analyse the ways that ancient and medieval societies were governed, identify political features and explain the nature of the political system, the dominant groups and how they established and maintained power. They describe the roles of key individuals and evaluate their contributions and legacies.

Students analyse change and continuity over time and compare key aspects of past and present societies; for example, aspects of daily life, social and political ideas and structures, and cultural values and beliefs. They demonstrate understanding of key concepts such as democracy, governance, the rule of law, justice, religion, liberty, authority, leadership, culture and feudalism. They explain the influences of ancient and medieval societies on contemporary societies.

Level 5 – Historical Reasoning and Interpretation
At Level 5, students frame key research questions, plan their investigations, and report on their findings. They use a range of primary and secondary sources including visual sources that record features of the societies in their investigations. They identify the content, origin, purpose and context of historical sources. They evaluate historical sources for meaning, point of view, values and attitudes, and identify some of the strengths and limitations of historical documents. They use relevant historical evidence, concepts and historical conventions such as bibliographies to present a point of view. Students use a variety of forms to present their understanding.

Level 5 – History

5.1 Describe key aspects of the daily life of people in ancient and medieval societies.

5.2 Describe the social features of ancient and medieval societies.

5.3 Analyse the ways in which ancient and medieval societies were governed.

5.4 Compare the main features of daily life in ancient and medieval societies with those of people in the modern world.

Levels 6

At Level 6, the VELS History domain remains focused on Australia and the world during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Where the CSF II concentrates on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ quest for civil and political rights the VELS broadens this focus to other groups in the society. The introduction of twenty-first century content is also a feature of the VELS. As for other levels in VELS history there are explicit standards for historical thinking and processes.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

CSF II learning outcomes

Level 6 – Historical knowledge and understanding
At Level 6, students analyse events which contributed to Australia’s social, political and cultural development. These events could include: European colonisation, the growth of the colonies, self-government, the gold rushes, the development of trade unions, the events leading to Federation, Federation, World War I, World War II, immigration, and the Gulf Wars. Students evaluate the contribution of significant Australians to Australia’s development.

Students evaluate the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the fight for civil and political rights and land rights. They analyse significant events and movements which have resulted in improvements in civil and political rights for other groups of Australians such as the eight-hour day and the right to vote for women, and evaluate the contributions of key participants and leaders in these events. They compare different perspectives about a significant event and make links between historical and contemporary issues.

Students analyse the impact of some key wars and conflicts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These could include the world wars, revolutions, the Cold War and post Cold War conflicts. They explain aspects of increasing global interconnections in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They demonstrate understanding of key ideologies and explain their influence on people’s lives, national events and international relations. They explain why significant social and cultural movements have developed and evaluate their influence on societies. They analyse changes in technology, medicine and communication.

Level 6 – Historical Reasoning and Interpretation
At Level 6, students frame research questions and locate relevant resources, including contemporary media and online resources. They identify, comprehend and evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources, including visual sources and use historical conventions such as footnotes and bibliographies to document sources. They critically evaluate sources of evidence for context, information, reliability, completeness, objectivity and bias. They recognise that in history there are multiple perspectives and partial explanations. They use appropriate historical language and concepts in historical explanations. They use evidence to support arguments and select and use appropriate written and oral forms to communicate develop historical explanations in a variety of oral, written and electronic forms.

Level 6 – History

6.1 Describe the reasons for the colonisation of Australia.

6.2 Analyse the continuing significance of major events and ideas which shaped Australian society.

6.3 Analyse the movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for civil and political rights.

6.4 Analyse the impact of significant events and ideas in shaping world history in the twentieth century.

6.5 Explain the key changes in social and political attitudes and values in modern Western society.

Level 6 – Extension

6.6 extension Explain how a selected contemporary issue relates to Australia’s evolving identity.

6.7 extension Analyse changes in cultural expression in the twentieth century.


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