Put your HASS lesson on the spin cycle to engage them with Australia’s Washminster system.
Washminster! It’s such a silly word that will make teaching and learning about Australia’s system of government fun and memorable. The Year 6 HASS curriculum can be a little dry but there are ways to make it interesting. Exploring the inspiration and origins of Australia’s Constitution and system of government is an important topic. By understanding how our political system is designed students are in a better position to understand our democratic values and practices, the value of our Constitution and the relationship between Federal, State and Local governments. It also lays a foundation for the Civics and Citizenship strand of the Australian curriculum.
What does the Curriculum say?
The Australian Curriculum requires that Year 6 students learn about Australia’s political history and the key figures, events and ideas that led to Australia’s Federation and Constitution. (ACHASSK134) The elaborations list ‘key elements of Australia’s law making and government systems that students should be able to identify and explain their origins. These elements include the separation of powers, houses of parliament, the law making process and the Westminster system. It used to include the US (or Washington) system and its influence on the development of Federation. I’m not sure why it’s been omitted but believe it’s still important as there are definite elements of Australia’s political structure that were influenced by the US system, for example the function of the Senate to provide representation for all states within a Federal system.
Do I really need to teach my students about the Washminster system?
Plato, although rather blunt, is right. I firmly believe that if people are going to make judgements and statements about politicians, parties, voting or any aspect of Australia’s political system they should have a basic understanding of how our system operates and why it operates that way. A lot of the information students and adults receive about politics is from the media and there is always an element of bias or sensationalism that requires a discerning eye and ear. By teaching students the fundamentals of Australia’s system of Government they’ll be better equipped to make their own informed decisions when they become adults and can vote, they’ll be able to think critically and be discerning when it comes to the vast amounts of information they’ll be faced with every day. Teaching your students about the Washminster system is just one way you can build this deeper understanding.
But how on earth do I teach it?
You don’t have to spend a huge amount of time on the Washminster system. We’ve created a resource that will help you cover this essential topic in 1 or 2 lessons. Our Washminster Flip Book will help your students understand how elements of the UK and US systems were blended together to create a system that suited Australia. It will also help them understand how this blend supports our democratic rights and how the Constitution protects them. It’s a quirky approach to a serious and potentially dull topic but we’re sure your class will love it and they’ll remember the resource with the people trapped in the washing machine.
Have you seen our FREE Australian Government What if Cards? They’re a great way to start discussions, check understanding and hook students into a new topic. Best of all they’re FREE for our email subscribers. Sign up below if you’d like access to our FREE Resource Library.
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