It all started with a visit to the high school where I used to be an English/History teacher.
I went to spruik the Young Archaeologists’ Program to the Head of Humanities. While I was there, she mentioned how desperate teachers were for a book on Ancient Australia, a unit that focuses on the Indigenous past. In response to this, I set up this blog Ask the Archaeologist to explain the key terms for Ancient Australia in a way I thought teachers might find helpful.
Then, in July this year, I presented a 1-hour seminar on Ancient Australia at a state history conference, and the same question was asked: Why wasn’t there a textbook about Ancient Australia yet? Where could teachers access quality and comprehensive resources about this elusive topic?
I began a thorough investigation into currently available resources and soon learned why teachers found the textbooks so unhelpful.
There’s virtually nothing available.
In fact, several popular history textbooks from large publishers barely even mention Ancient Australia. The best information I could find had been written in consultation with a top museum curator, and while the resource is of high quality, it, too, is lacking the depth needed to teach such a vast and layered topic.
It was at this point that I decided to address the problem and write a book.
As soon as I decided to write the book, I knew I had to self-publish. Going through “traditional” publication routes was going to take too long. Teachers need this information now, not in one or two years.
It’s also important that I have the freedom to include as many illustrations as I think is necessary (many publishers have limited image quotas, and I want to include loads of pictures – after all, it has to appeal to kids as well as their teachers!).
I also want some say in the book design and format. While I’m not a great designer by any stretch of the imagination, I have firm views about how I want the book to unfold chronologically and visually, and I suspect a mainstream educational publisher would not permit an author to enjoy the level of creative input that I will give to this book.
With this project, I see myself not so much as a writer or educator, but more as a translator and guide. The bulk of information about Ancient Australia is locked away in archaeology reports and academic journal papers. And which teachers have time to sift through a hundred articles on an unfamiliar subject then create engaging lessons for an 8-week unit? None that I know.
Fortunately, I have a bit of time up my sleeve. Ancient Australia Unearthed is well underway, with a first draft nearing completion. It will be a unique book – the first of its kind – that uses archaeology to teach Australia’s ancient history. While the primary purpose will be educational, I feel that the aesthetics of the book are equally, if not more, important than the text. It would be so easy for my book to become boring, and I’m determined to prevent that from happening. This is why I’ve chosen to crowdfund – so that I can invest in great design and illustrations to make the book both educational and beautiful.
The Pozible tally for Day 6 is $605! Thanks to everyone who’s supported so far. There’s still heaps of time to register your pledge – just go to pozible.com/ancientaustralia