HTAV VCE Conference 2019 Opening Address

Good morning, my name is Ashley Pratt and I am privileged to be Vice-President of the History Teachers Association of Victoria.

On behalf of the association I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting – the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging and the Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.

If you will indulge me for a few moments, I have a few words of welcome for you all before we begin proceedings for the day. On behalf of our president, Dr. Rosalie Triolo, and the entire board, I welcome you all to HTAVs first professional learning event for 2019. I’m sure you will all agree with me that the hard work done by Myra, Deb, the HTAV team and our hosts here at CQ Functions is always apricated as they deliver one of the highlights on our professional learning calendars. While the world-class professional learning and flawless organisation is without question... I think I speak for many of us here that the biggest pull- factor is the chance to catch-up with, and spend a day with, dear friends and colleagues. The collegiality and warmth of our community is truly the envy of the wider teaching profession. Whether it be on social media, teacher email networks, or in person, you all go above and beyond, on a daily basis, to support each other as we deliver effective and engaging history education to Victorians students from across our state. And this is only more important as

the years go by, the world needs what we do more than ever. You will have read the report in The Age regarding the Auditor-General’s report into school spending on conference attendance for school teachers, needless to say the board and the association takes a different view to how this was reported in the media and I know that our Executive Officer, Deb Hull will address this in her opening remarks.

We live in a rapidly changing world in which the role of history and history education is changing and evolving. In Sam Wineburg’s latest book ‘Why Learn History When It’s Already On Your Phone’, he says:

“The Internet, as Michael Lynch has observed, is a human marvel: “Both the world’s best fact-checker and the world’s best bias confirmer – often at the same time.” By failing to teach students how the game of history is played in the digital age, we prepare them to face yesterday’s challenges but leave them naked in the face of those awaiting them tomorrow. Before Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp, James Madison understood what is at stake when people can’t tell the difference between credible information and shameless bluff. “A popular government,” our fourth president wrote, “without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.” The future of the past may be on our screens. But its fate rests in our hands.

The challenges we are facing are significant, but we can take solace in the timelessness of our craft. The professionalism, collegiality, and expertise in this room will stand us in good stead as we tackle the challenges of the future through the teaching of the past.

I look forward to seeing you at our Social Hour following today’s conference and warmly invite you all to the association’s Annual General Meeting in a few weeks’ time. Again, I welcome you all and hope that 2019 will be one of success for you all in all of your endeavours.

Thank you and enjoy the day.