LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown Year 9 students have grappled with the broadest of topics in a program developed by Macquarie University and backed by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.
The Big History Program brings together Science, Philosophy and other disciplines to give a big-picture view of History. It encourages students to ask questions of the universe and humanity after exposing them to events that shaped both over almost 14 billion years.
History and English teacher Peter Cartledge co-ordinates LaSalle’s gifted education programs. He said Big History is run as a 100-hour elective for Years 9 and 10 students, who discuss events including the big bang theory and the chemical reactions that made stars develop, evolution, agriculture and the industrial revolution.
“The Board of Studies has it down as a philosophy subject because it runs like a narrative through the story of the universe,” Mr Cartledge said. “We look at how it came to be from the very beginning of time up to today, and spend time projecting what could come next.
“There’s quite a lot of university style writing involved, a lot of critical thinking and a lot of deep analysis of historical sources as well as different theories through time, how they were discredited and how we can question assumed knowledge.
“We currently have a Year 9 and 10 composite class, so some of the older boys can help some of the younger boys through the course and if they have different skill sets. It’s very collaborative.”
Year 10 student Jonathan Cakovski, 14, took part in the course last year. “It was amazing how every little detail was huge in the making of history,” he said. “We spoke about ‘Goldilocks conditions’ – how everything went perfectly to create the history that unfolded. Without those conditions, everything could have gone completely differently.”