Student Melissa Clement with Tatiana Bur and Miller Technology History teacher, Tony Podolsak
Three months of preparation culminated on Wednesday 31 August when twenty-two Year 11 students presented their history research to an audience of their peers, teachers, and university mentors. Part of the Social Inclusion program run by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, these presentations were the end result of History Investigative Projects completed by students at Granville Boys and Miller Technology high schools.
During a series of school and university visits, the Year 11s refined their research methods and essay-writing skills with the help of volunteers from the University of Sydney. This group of volunteers consisted of several postgraduate and honours students, led by PhD candidates Hollie Pich (History) and Tatiana Bur (Classics and Ancient History): The Miller students were mentored by Rebecca Geogiades, Alfred Johnson, Vivienne Joncourt, Mirela Kadric, Meg McLellan, Ethan McKenzie, Laura Signorelli, Joanna Slomka and Simon Wyatt-Spratt; this year’s Granville mentors were Ryan Cropp, Nico Bell-Romaro, Emma Kluge and Marama Whyte.
Covering a vast array of modern and ancient periods, the students explored their wider interests through their History Individual Projects. Presentation topics included Classical Greek architecture, Chinese philosophies, and biographies of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. The first presentation of the day detailed the history and significance of the Haka, and the audience was treated to a spontaneous performance of the Sipi Tau from four of the Granville students.
The Year 11s demonstrated an ability to relate the topics of their research to present-day issues, and to deftly communicate these complicated subjects in ways that were easy to understand. A Miller student’s presentation on Constantine’s role in the development of Christianity revealed a thorough consideration of how definitions of religious faiths and practices influence the way historians assess Constantine and his influence.
In a presentation on Tonga’s precolonial history, one Granville student showcased his extensive cultural knowledge, while another drew on his own personal experiences of racism before launching into a history of the Ku Klux Klan in the nineteenth century. It made for a richly informative day where each student brought something new to their area of research, framing their topics with a fresh set of questions and comparisons.
The Granville and Miller students show a lot of promise as researchers, and their presentations highlighted the importance of their own contributions to, and perspectives within, studies of the past.