Big History

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Subjects: English, Humanities, Science

Year Level: Years 3, 4, 5 & 6

Topics: Sustainability

Course Time: 4 hours

Quick summary: Gain an overview of the Big History story, why it is important for Primary education and the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability, and how to apply a critical, inquiry-based perspective to science education across all areas of the curriculum. There will be opportunities to learn about a range of tools, tips, lessons and resources that focus on a multi-disciplinary approach.

For more information, check out the course brochure.


This course will explore how a critical inquiry model, informed by literacy, humanities, future sustainability and the general capability of critical thinking can be used to engage students. Teachers will learn to facilitate students’ scientific knowledge and understanding by expanding upon a broad, narrative approach to the Big Bang and the history of the universe. You’ll learn:

  • How to incorporate multi-disciplines to arrive at a transdisciplinary Big History learning approach, interrelating Sustainability learning and STEAM inquiry within a critical-inquiry -based learning curriculum
  • How to interconnect a changing, cohesive (his)story of our universe with socioecological learning that considers environmental, economic, societal and welfare needs of communities
  • How Big History incorporates transdisciplinary learning, inclusive of STEAM inquiry, to empower student curiosity about the history of the universe and potential impacts on the environment
  • How to structure a gradual release of responsibility across a unit, from teacher as instructor to teacher as lead-learner, who guides students in independent evidence-based questioning and learning
  • How to guide students to self-assess alongside your teacher assessments within the above learning structure


This course will take four hours to complete. Enjoy it in one session or spread it out over a few weeks.


This course is on-demand and for private study. Learn at your own pace and at times that suit you. Get a certificate when you finish. You will have ongoing access.


  • Subjects: English, Science, Humanities
  • General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Cultural Understanding
  • Cross curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, Sustainability


This course is mapped to the Professional Standards for Teachers. It is accredited for teacher professional development hours in the following states and territories:

Proficient Teacher – all states and territories except NSW
3.3 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
4.1 Establish and implement inclusive and positive interactions to engage and support all students in classroom activities.


This program has been approved for accreditation within the ACT for 2023.
Please be advised you will be accredited within 14 days of completion.  


Marilyn Ahearn is an adjunct lecturer at Southern Cross University, Gold Coast but labels herself as firstly a primary school teacher promoting sustainability. In fact, she only decided to embark on her PhD research when she stumbled across primary students’ excitement in learning Big History. Sadly, while it enthused students, the wider education community saw it merely as an add-on! How to spread the message? Embark on a PhD and continue cycling to keep her sanity! Jump to the present and Marilyn continues to champion a Big History learning framework for primary education as she also begins to turn her thesis into a published book.

This course is told from Marilyn’s perspective, backed up by her extensive classroom experience and her completed PhD research in Big History in a primary classroom setting.

Marisa Colonna first encountered Big History when she was undertaking a BA DipEd at Macquarie University, Sydney. She discovered a class from the ‘father’ of Big History, Professor David Christian, and her way of thinking about the Universe and everything in it was forever altered. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to help develop a Big History program for primary school students which she has been teaching now for 5 years. Teaching Big History, and seeing the wonder and awe it engenders in her students, has been the highlight of her teaching career.

Jarryd Bendall comes from a long line of teachers, which is why he initially avoided this calling. After a myriad of roles in law, medicine, used car sales, and as the mascot for the Western Bulldogs AFL team, Jarryd eventually taught primary school for a number of years, before combining his love for writing and education at an Education Specialist role with Cool. This role sees him as a bridge between knowledgeable industry experts and classroom teachers, bringing excellence into the classroom and challenging the average curriculum with innovative and effective ideas.

Jarryd will be on hand to answer any questions and help you navigate this course.


As a not-for-profit organisation, all revenue from our Professional Development courses is reinvested into providing teachers with the resources to become the designers of exceptional learning.

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