Get a High-Altitude View of World History in Sydney
There are generally two big challenges when it comes to shaping and educating young minds. The first is trying to give them a truly comprehensive concept of the world, its history and cultures – a high-altitude view that ties together the infinite threads of every region’s individual history into something coherent that underscores fundamental the truths that link almost all people.
The other is planning a group trip to a location that offers excitement and educational opportunities. The difficulty level here is that the destination can’t simply be exciting to the students – that’s too easy. An exciting city might have the popular support of the class, but it won’t do unless there are clear educational and mental developmental opportunities as well.
Your solution? Sydney, Australia, where you can combine all the excitement of a major city with the chance to get a truly “high-altitude” view of how the world has developed. Sydney combines access to Australia’s own past – a mixture of colonization, displacement of an indigenous culture and emergence as a modern state – with a place on the world stage that makes it ideal for a student trip.
What Can the Kids Learn in Sydney?
Sydney’s development is like a primer on world history. Australia’s largest city was founded as a penal colony in 1788 by British Captain Arthur Phillip, but the area it sits on has been inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years. This means it’s already an object lesson in the patterns of world history: Colonization, conflict between cultures, all leading to a modern world where both the ancient and the new co-exist. Add to that the cultural and academic opportunities the city offers, and you have an ideal destination for students who need their first glimpse of the awesome patterns of history itself.
A Tour of Living History in Sydney
In order to bring history to life for your students, there are a few things you should consider including in your plan:
Aboriginal Cultural Cruise. The Eora people lived in the area that now contains Sydney for thousands of years before the British arrived in 1788. This cruise puts your students right next to actual Aborigines who will teach them about their history, their culture, and what life was like before colonization. Nothing will give visitors a better sense of the irresistible currents of history than a people narrating their own displacement and subsequent struggle to maintain their culture in the face of modernity.
Fort Denison. The island on which this structure was built was called Mallee’wonya by the indigenous Eora people who occupied the area before the British settled there. In the late 18th century the British used the island for executions of condemned prisoners, and in the mid-19th century built the fort in order to improve the defenses of the bay – although the fort was basically obsolete by the time it was completed. Encapsulating millennia of history in one spot, the fort today is a museum of Australia’s history, offering context and detail to the fort’s story.
Australian Museum. Complete the gathering of historical context with a trip to one of the world’s most renowned museums. Established in 1827, the Australian Museum deepens your understanding of indigenous cultures and the development of Australia from a rural and agricultural ‘outback’ into a full-fledged modern state.
Sydney Opera House. Finally, a visit to the Sydney Opera House caps off the story of modern Australia’s rise to the first order of nations, symbolized by one of the most celebrated architectural achievements of the modern age.
Sydney is also home to a great number of world-class universities with hundreds of thousands of students enrolled at any given time – many of whom come from around the world, offering students a chance to meet and converse with people near their own age who hail from different cultures. Several of the universities in Sydney are ranked as among Australia’s best, including the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney (ranked as one of the world’s Top 50 universities), University of Western Sydney, and Sydney’s most international university, Macquarie University.
Sydney isn’t just a beautiful, modern city with a lively nightlife (although it is those things as well) – it’s also an opportunity to show students how history happens, how different forces interact and crash into each other, eventually forming the modern world we’re familiar with. If you’re seeking a way to both get your student group excited and construct a “living lesson” that gives them a hands-on and intimate view of history, Sydney is the ideal choice.
Now all you have to do is plan the trip! If you’ve been to Sydney and have tips and suggestions, let us know in the comments!