Society and social education

Society and social education is concerned with the study of people, over a period and the interactions with others, in different environments, and how this has changed (now and then).  Society and social education are referred to as “HSIE” (Human Societies and Its Environments) in NSW (Reynolds, 2009). Typically History, Geography, Sociology, Economics, Aboriginal studies, Environmental studies, Civics, Social and Australian studies are included in the HSIE sub strand (Board of Studies, 2006). HSIE allows students to see the world in a very different light, and understand, appreciate and accept the cultural diversity of their situations and others around them. All which will be trained, through diverse HSIE depending on their outcomes, achievements and activities. It is important that this is taught so children can appreciate and understand different cultures for what they are, and retract from prejudice (Pohl, 1997).

HSIE can teach children appropriate skills; knowledge and understanding which help children develop a sense of identity and where they stand in today’s society. It allows students to participate as active and informed citizens in the Australian society which can adapt them to make meaningful choices and decisions regarding Australia future (Curriculum Corporation, 1994). The type of knowledge and understanding developed needs to take into consideration the future of citizens. Australian Council of Dean of Education (ACDE, 2001) suggests that contextual and critical knowledge is valued more in the future world thus HSIE curriculum must assist in making judgements about certain world and local issues. For example, teaching history about convicts or of Australian can promote awareness of past events and how to act in society (Curriculum Corporation, 1994).

The NSW curriculum is developed around key concepts and understandings that students must be able to learn in order to stay as informed and active participants. The teacher must include suitable information such as facts and concepts which are essential to society and social education knowledge and understanding (Curriculum Corporation, 1994). To further concrete or bring together this information to build on a students’ knowledge and to understand the concept learned (general understanding supported by a variety of groups of facts chosen for their relevance and illustrative purposes) please see “organisation” in resources section below. This activity can help students further concrete their understanding about convicts by participating in a trip to the Hyde Barracks in Sydney.

The resource package is aimed at Stage 2 of the NSW curriculum of the HSIE (Human Societies and Its Environments) that is students in Year four and is intended to improve the student in diverse areas towards the creation of an all-round student.

These aspects are listed below in the resource package, which allows students to view & access a range of multi-modal sources of information. The resource package encourages the use of inquiry based learning, which is beneficial to the learner, by starting with a focus question —- locating —- organising —– analysing evidence —- evaluating —- synthesising  —– conclusions. (Reynolds, 2009.)

The resource pack allows students to contribute to their own learning abilities, as suggested by Gardners, (1979) multiple theories of intelligences, which proposes that each individual is proficient in sevendiverse types of information process abilities. These skills will differ from individual to individual. Some students may prefer to learn in one way that would benefit them more intellectually than another way. The measure of different intelligences is mostly independent and can be measured through the child own personal choice. This can be achieved through inquiry learning, where the child can get to select the way they learn and represent their work. This is present in the resource package below. The multiple intelligences include the following according to (Gardners, 1979):

  • Logical-mathematical
  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Bodily- Kinaesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal (Gardners 1979)

The resource package allows students to use their multiple intelligences in different ways. For example, the resource package is made up of 4 different models. It includes a text, web link, organisation and learning activity. Some students may rank higher and learn better using different types of models. A student may benefit from the text resource if their suitable major intelligence is linguistic, whereas other students may benefit from the organisation resource if their suitable intelligence is Bodily- Kinaesthetic. For example Resource one of the first table, the text “convicts” may be easily interpreted by one student, opposed from resource three of the first table “A visit to Hyde barracks”.

The resource package encourages children to improve certain skills and habits, which will assist the child, cover this information and have the “capacity to make sound & informed choices as citizens of a culturally varied, democratic society in a mutually dependent world (Department of Education and Training, 2005). Students can work with the resources that help them learn in their own creativity and personal way. The following resources allow students to develop right skills needed from HSIE lessons through different ways below:

  • Diversity
  • Different genres
  • Inquiry learning
  • Group work
  • Individual work
  • Allowing students to use their own kind of 7 multiply intelligences
  • Their own way of learning and thinking
  • Integrating various HSIE/ history subjects

Many of the selected materials in the resource package encourage and develop the correct skills listed above. For example Resource three on table two (visit to local parliament house) allows integrated HSIE subjects such as EN2.5 (Environments) & SSS2.8. (Social Systems & Systems). Integrated curriculum is an excellent way to incorporate multiple learning syllabus and learning styles into one activity. Students of the 21st are learning in multi-modals ways and it is essential that is forested through the use of integrated learning and curriculum. (Reynolds, 2009)

The Melbourne declaration agrees with the NSW curriculum and the use of integrated curriculum as it promotes students to be “creative, innovative & resourceful, and draw upon a variety of learning areas and disciplines” (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goal for Young Australians, 2008)

This can be successfully achieved through a successful pedagogy and it depends on the teacher, students, organisation, teaching, learning and activities. Located is the resource package, which can be used to create a meaningful lesson plan, according to the NSW curriculum of HSIE (Board of Studies, 2006). The resource package seeks to ensure that students get to understand more about current and past correction systems and what their roles in the society are.

Subject Area:     Patterns of Place and Location   Environments   Theme: Convicts Resource One (Web link –Appendices A)   The web link to an interactive website founded around convict life, with an assortment of learning actions and games.   ( Resource Two (Text – Appendices B)   The difference between 19th century goal and 21st century goals and also the criminal conviction times.   A text/artefact on Australian convicts which list down their names, crimes and prison sentence. Resource Three (Organisation – Appendices C)   Hyde Park Barracks located in Sydney. Resource Four (Learning activity – Appendices D)   Worksheet / learning activity/quiz on what the students have learnt.      
Outcomes ENS2.5 Explains places in the neighbouring area and other parts of Australia and explicates their significance ENS2.6 Describes people’s connections with environments and recognizes responsible ways of relating with environments. . CUS2.3 Explains how shared practices, customs, symbols, traditions and languages in society contribute to Australian and society identities   CCS2.2 – Explains changes in the community and family life evaluates the effects of these on different individuals, groups and environments.   CCS2.1 Explains the importance of some significant places in the Australian system of governance          
Indicators CCS2.1: Describes some aspects of ways of life and achievements of the community and how errant people are corrected     SSS2.8 Examines rights, responsibilities and decision-making procedures in the school and society and reveals how participation can add to the worth of their school and community life. SSS2.7 Describes how people and technologies cooperate to meet desires and explains the impact of these interactions on individuals and the environment ENS2.6 Describes ways through which people interact with their environment and identifies responsible ways to do so
Evaluation This online activity provides students with various topics they can learn. It is an excellent online resource of reliable information (promoted by the NSW government). The different topic provides students with other aspects of convict’s life, such as early settlement, artefacts and online quizzes/activities. These activities can be easily completed for the students to labour on their own or in groups. The online activity is very user friendly, colourful, engaging & informative, with easy to read facts and questions. It allows young students to use online resources whilst participating in Australia’s history. The resource is accredited to be a reliable online interactive lesson, with approvals from the NSW government for its information. The resource is very importance especially for students with spatial and linguistic skills (Gardners, 1979). This resource is an overview of convicts, which include their name, job, education crime & years in jail. This resource introduces students to the realistic sentences convicts were given for “petty crimes” such as 7 years for stealing a sheep. This resource is valuable. Students can compare this resource with information known today about sentences and how convicts/prisoners (as used today) are sentenced. It allows students to compare the past and the present & write down the differences in crimes committed between the 200 hundred years.    It also links well with the curriculum documents mentioned above and allows students to see the difference, from now to then and how it has changed throughout this century. This helps students in the real rules as it allows them to understand where Australia has come from as a country  (Reynolds, 2009)   The Hyde Park Barrack text shows the students an picture and a short explanation of the Goal. The image can show what a 19th century goal looked like. The students can use this image to compare and contrast against their local Goal. The students can identify the differences between the two. The first thing they may note is the material in which the Hyde Park Barracks is used, the security level (that is, the gate). They can compare all these feature to a modern Goal and immediately recognize the differences Hyde Barracks is a convict confinement which was open in 1819. This place is often used as an educational resource for many primary school students. Activities vary, however this resource is engages students in inquiry learning, as students become convicts for one day, dressing, eating, cooking, working and acting like convicts. This resource provides students with a hand-on experience which can allow students to see a different perspective regarding convicts. Students will live the way a convict lived & learn more about their existence & the Hyde barrack itself.   This type of resource allows students to construct prior knowledge through the use of role play and have a hands-on experience in terms of living in the past. Students can interpret what they learn from this activity in their own way through constructivism.   There are many interesting facts regarding the Hyde park that students will carry back to the classroom to help them in other activities, such as narrative writing & reflective thinking.  Other areas such as logical thinking and environment are also made easier for the student to understand through exposure. A worksheet has been provided from the Hyde barracks online website. These worksheets conclude the findings regarding convicts in early Australian settlement. Students would have engaged in activities through the excursion and online learning activity, which would allow them to complete various questions. Some questions support the ideas of creativity, stimulation and idea thinking such as, “on arrival, convicts may have seen some unusual animals for the first time, if you were the convict what might you of called a “kangaroo”. Students can utilize this worksheet to assist them assemble their ideas, theories & conclude what are convicts & how they lived. This resource is useful tool that can be quickly implemented to assess what the students have learnt over past lesson plans. The teacher can use this resource to advantage, for example, students can work on their own, in groups altogether.   Working together with the use of Bloom taxonomy is an excellent learning and assessment tool which can be used in conjunction with this learning resource. It can allow the teachers and students to read, reflect and evaluate what they have learnt.    
Subject Area:     Social Systems and Structures   Environments     Theme: Parliament/ Governments Resource One (Web link –Appendices A)   Appendices A – Text / Glossary of common words used in the parliament office – Commonwealth of Australia. (2013). Parliament In Focus. Available: . Last accessed 19th June 2014   Resource Two (Text – Appendices B)   Appendices B – Web link to the Parliament Education Office – (Commonwealth of Australia. (2013). Kids Views Parliament in Focus. Available: Last accessed 19th June 2014.   Resource Three (Organisation – Appendices C)   Resource three – Organisation Local Parliament House.- Parliament of NSW. (2013). State of New South Wales. Available: Last accessed 11th June 2013       Resource Four (Learning activity – Appendices D)   Resource four – Learning activity as a follow up to visit to Local Parliament house – Playing your part.$File/Playing+Your+Part+October+2011+Fifth+Edition.pdf      
Outcomes SSS2.8 Examines rights, duties and decision-making procedures in the school and society and shows how participation can add to the quality of their community life.     SSS2.8 Examines rights, duties and decision-making procedures in the school and society and shows how participation can add to the quality of their community life.       SSS2.8 Investigates constitutional rights, duties, responsibilities and decision-making methods in the school and society and illustrates how involvement can make a contribution towards the value of their school and community lives.     ENS2.5 Explores places in the neighbourhood and other parts of Australia and discusses their significance. SSS2.8 Investigates constitutional rights, duties, responsibilities and decision-making methods in the school and community and demonstrates how participation can make a contribution towards the value of their school and community lives.   ENS2.5 Explores places in the neighbourhood and other parts of Australia and discusses their significance.
Indicators   SSS2.8 – describes rights of individuals and groups     SSS2.8 Examines rights, duties and decision-making procedures in the school and society and shows how participation can add to the quality of their community life.           SSS2.8 Examines rights, duties and decision-making procedures in the school and society and shows how participation can add to the quality of their community life.   ENS2.5 – names and locates national structures and identifies their significance   SSS2.8 Examines rights, duties and decision-making procedures in the school and society and shows how participation can add to the quality of their community life.   ENS2.5 names and locates national structures and identifies their significance
Evaluation The resources are great tools towards a better understanding of the systems that are in place in Australia. They also present a variety of new learning opportunities for students including the learning of new words for the text resource. The students also get a chance to understand their society and cultures better with the cultural differences of the people they meet. A variety of skills including brainstorming guessing and researching are also improved. Students also get to learn from each other and to develop their skills. some students, also prefer to use the skills they have more prowess in to learn (Gardners, 1979) The next resource (web link) is a range of online interactive learning activities that students can do online, in a group or within the classroom on the interactive whiteboard. It has various government/parliament subject areas which are aligned to the NSW curriculum. It has a range of teacher notes, which includes suggested lesson plans with appropriate curriculum document links. There is an abundant of information on the online tool that can be used to cover the above syllabus point. For example, the students can go to “Parliament house” section on the tool and explore the inside of the parliament house. The use of this tool, classroom discussion and understanding students prior knowledge can help achieve part of the syllabus point SSS2.8 The third resource (organisation) is the local Parliament house of NSW which is located Sydney on Macquarie Street. This organisation has a range of tour and educational activities suitable for students in Years 3-4 (stage 2). Students can go on an excursion to Parliament house to further consolidate their understanding of government in NSW. This organisation can help contribute to the syllabus SSS2.8 & EN2.5. Students will locate and visit parliament house and understand it importance, whilst learning more about the Australian government by visiting the organisation. The last resource (learning activity) is very informative and has extensive information based around questions and answers of local/state government and parliament. This resource is very useful in many ways. It may be used to assess what students have learnt, or to consolidate and/or re-enforce what they have learnt over the past lessons. This learning resource may also be as a beginning activity to syllabus point SSS2.8 and ENS2.5 as it contains information and lesson plans to introduce governments/parliaments. The resource is useful with the use of Bloom Revised Taxonomy & activities that prompt the use multiple intelligences. (Pohl, 1997)

In conclusion, a resource package is a great way to keep and create records for various lesson plans/ideas. Different types of resources promote the use of multi-modal learning with the inquiry learning classroom. (Reynolds, 2009 & Klein 1997) Teachers can allow students to utilise resources in their own way to create the goals of the Australian Curriculum, documents/syllabus. Each resource needs to be evaluated carefully to ensure it is enriched with useful & correct information which allows the students to translate the ideas into inquiry learning process. Each type of resource will differ depending on which subjects are being taught & what documents will be used. In the future teachers should only select genuine & authentic resources that promote creative, hands-on & reflective lesson plans/inquiry learning (Board of Studies, 2006).


Pohl, (1997) State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Communities. (2011). Convicts. Available: . Last accessed 10th July 2012

Australian Education Council. (1994). A statement on studies of society and environment for Australian schools. Carlton, Vic: Curriculum Corp.

Board of Studies (2006) : Personal development, health and physical education, K-6 : syllabus. Sydney: Board of studies

Curriculum Corporation. (1994). A statement on studies of society and environment for Australian schools. Victoria : Curriculum Corporation

Department of Education and Training (2005). Outcomes and standards frameworks: Society and environment. Perth, W.A: Department of Education             and Training.

Gardner (1979). Developmental psychology after Piaget: An approach in terms of symbolization. Human development, 15, 570-580.

Historic houses trust. (2011). Hyde barracks. Available:  Last             accessed 10th June 2013

Klein, P. D. (January 01, 1997). Multiplying the Problems of Intelligence by Eight: A Critique of Gardner’s Theory. Canadian Journal of Education. Revue Canadienne De L’éducation, 22, 4, 377.

Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, 2008 Available:,25979.html. Last accessed :04th June 2013

Pohl, Michael. (1997). Teaching Thinking Skills in the Primary Years: A Whole School Approach.  Cheltenham, Vic.: Hawker Brownlow Education

Reynolds, R. (2009) Teaching studies of society and environment in the primary school. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

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