My Five Decades Plus Seven

Dear Year 8 Students,

One advantage of being a relatively old History teacher is that I have encountered a number of historical events personally. I can’t recall most of the ones in my first decade, but I do remember the moon landing, which I watched on black and white television in my primary school teacher’s lounge room. 

In the first ten years of my existence, here are just a few events that took place:

  • 1963: John F Kennedy was assassinated.
  • 1964: The Beatles came to Melbourne and “Beatle-mania” took hold.
  • 1966: “Changeover-Day”: We switched from pounds and pence to dollars and cents.
  • 1967: A referendum was passed to include indigenous people as citizens of our nation.
  • 1967: Harold Holt, our then Prime Minister, drowned.
  • 1968: Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • 1969: The first moon landing took place.

I could go on about the history that I’ve lived through — for example, the sacking of Gough Whitlam (when I was 13), the fall of the Berlin Wall (I was 27 by then) and the 9/11 attacks (I was 39).

But actually, it’s far more interesting for me to contemplate your promising future than my dusty past. After our first class or two, you will know all about the legacies of the ancient Romans and I shall ask you to write a comment about which legacies you would like to leave when you grow to be even older than I am now. Unimaginable, huh?

After all, in History, we are not constrained to think of our lives and our world in a linear way. We are like Time Lords who can imagine our lives at their close, who can picture ourselves as medieval peasants and who can contemplate the question of why ancient Roman tyrants behaved as they did.

Most of all, we can use our knowledge of the past to ponder on how to fashion a better future for humankind. Now there’s an idealistic hope. Aren’t they the best type?

All the very best from your History teacher,

Ms Green

A Thousand Stories…

History for me is a love story. I hope you grow to love it too.

Dear 7B,

I love teaching History because it is full of stories. Sometimes I almost forget that I’m doing this as a job. I have a group of bright-faced students in front of me, asking me questions and hearing my stories. The students begin to tell me things that they’ve found out themselves or they ask me questions I can’t answer. Somewhere along the way, they begin to teach me too.  

What, I get paid for this?

In Year 7 History you learn about the human story, how we started out as hunters and gatherers and gradually changed into farmers and herders, then began to build settlements and cities, learned to write and became, over the millennia, technological whizzes and the most powerful species on the planet. Not all of those changes were positive. Some of them were environmentally destructive; many led to suffering and human cost. But the story is still a fascinating one.

This is what I look like. Sort of. Without the wrinkles and other unnecessary details.

I hope that you enjoy hearing this story and developing your skills as a historian, story-teller, writer and technological whizz. I hope you enjoy being part of our school and getting to know each other too. Don’t forget to ask me if you get lost!

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Below there is a little quiz for you to try. See how clever you are at guessing the details. At the end, you will get a little report with explanations to help you understand why your answer was right (or wrong).

The Quizlet below allows you to learn and revise the words you will encounter at the start of the course in Year 7 History. After you have cycled through the digital cards, you can click on “Scatter” and play a simple matching game. The other option is “Space Race”, which is dangerously addictive.

Incidentally, the Quizlet website allows you to make your own digital flashcards, just like the ones below, so that you learn the vocabulary for a language, science or any other topic. You can set up your own account, provided you have an email address. This could help you as you navigate your way through everything you have to learn at high school!

Quizlet sign up

Your final task: Write a short comment in which you describe an important event in your personal history. How have you coped with your first few days at high school? Were you anxious beforehand? What helped you to settle in? Have you been lost yet? Don’t forget, no family names and nothing that could personally identify you. 

Welcome to the beginning of history…

A rosy-cheeked teacherDear 7B,

This is an amateur mini-website called a blog. I created it for the use of my year 7 history class in 2008, so you can go several years back into the past and find pictures of other students and even their comments on tasks we have done.

You can visit this blog even when you are at home. In fact, some aspects of it will work better at home, because you will not be restricted there by the school’s blocking of sites such as Youtube.

The advantage of having a blog like this is that I can direct you towards good websites, give you tasks to do and ask you to leave comments on various topics.

Today, I want you to find out about the start of agriculture and the domestication of animals. After that, I want you to leave a comment about your first few days of high school.

Rules for commenting: No family names, no insults, no information leading to your identification by outsiders – just intelligent, thoughtful remarks that will amuse and educate others.

Welcome to high school, to history and to my class.

Kind regards from Ms Green

Work for Today:


When some people became farmers and herders, from about 10000BC, their lives changed dramatically.

  • Farming meant that people could settle in one place.

  • They could store food for the future.

  • Larger families were possible and in fact desirable. No longer did people have to carry their young children during long nomadic migrations. Instead, they needed all the labour they could get. Farming is intensive. This would have been the start of child labour! (We do our best to continue this trend at our school.)

  • People could eventually live in much larger groups, leading ultimately to more diverse societies, skills and occupations.

  • Farming could support a far larger population than hunting and gathering, so societies based on farming could grow quickly and become much more complex and varied.

  • Farming was not necessarily a better way to live; in some ways hunting and gathering in small bands would have been simpler, with fewer possessions, more sharing and less impact on the environment. But once the idea of farming began it spread; the societies that were based on this new way of living grew, prospered, diversified and often became powerful.

One of the changes in the New Stone Age was the domestication of animals. Go to this site for a timeline of animal domestication.

This photo was taken in Vietnam by my son Patrick and is used with this permission. It shows a domesticated cat. Cats are believed to have been domesticated first by the ancient Egyptians, whose huge grain stores needed protection from rodents.
This photo was taken in Vietnam by my son Patrick and is used with his permission. It shows a domesticated cat. Cats are believed to have been domesticated first by the ancient Egyptians, whose huge grain stores needed protection from rodents.

Animal domestication link

1. List the first six animals to be domesticated and the approximate date. Then click on your favourite to find out the evidence about when, how and why they were domesticated by humans.

Plants were also domesticated. This means that humans bred the plants for the qualities they most wanted in them. Plants with larger wheat grains were chosen just as goats were chosen for smaller horns. Gradually the domesticated population varied significantly from the wild one.

Table of plant domestication

2. Write down four of the important crops and the approximate date of domestication.