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Foundational Statement

Foundational Principle: The inherent value of each individual

As a humanities subject, History is premised on the idea that human beings are inherently valuable. It is the story of humanity, and one of its main emphases is on the way human beings have progressed, for example in terms of rights, freedoms and longevity. Like History, Politics is a subject concerned with the inherent value of the individual. It focuses on democratic principles such as individual liberty and equality, and explores the role and responsibilities of the individual within civil society. Philosophy is also a subject in which the inherent worth of the individual is a major topic, for it grapples with the most fundamental questions of human identity, meaning and morality. It also explores the capacity of individuals to shape and improve the world.

Foundational Question: How did the world evolve to be as it is and how might it be made to evolve for the greater good?

This question is fundamentally historical, for it is based on the idea that humans are only fully understood through history. As Cicero said, ‘To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child.’ Concepts of progress, human evolution and ‘the greater good’ are central to it. For example, when our students look at ancient societies, the topic of slavery raises questions about the inherent value of human beings, while the study of ancient China or Egypt gives them an appreciation of cultural differences. In Year 9, as Scotch boys study the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act that gave votes to women in Australia, naturally this makes them think about women’s rights. When in Year 10 they study the civil rights movements in the USA and Australia, inevitably they consider the topic of racial discrimination. Issues surrounding equity, diversity, human rights and democracy all come into history studies at Scotch. So do other important aspects of the human condition, including the human frailty that has led to disasters such as the fall of the Roman Empire (covered in Year 8) or the outbreak of the world wars (Years 9 and 10). History also deals with another vital element of the past and future in the form of leadership, a quality that Scotch College boys have historically demonstrated to a remarkable degree, and will no doubt continue to exercise. Leadership is of course also a topic vital to Politics. That subject examines various approaches to societal change, and  the degree to which genuine democracy can be attained. Philosophy is a subject heavily concerned with the ‘greater good’. A large part of the subject, including much of Year 12 Philosophy, comprises sophisticated discussion of what constitutes the ‘Good Life’. In short, History, Politics and Philosophy are deeply concerned with how we have evolved to our current situation and provide means to consider how we can and should develop in future.