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About Me.

Hi, I'm Amy. I'm an educational writer, editor, and coach.

I'm a qualified secondary teacher (history, English, and English as a second language) and I have a PhD in education and history. Until a couple of years ago, I was a full time academic in a teaching and research role at a highly ranked university. I enjoyed my teaching and research, but I wanted to spend more time helping people with their writing and working with educational organisations at the coalface. The part about moving to the Sunshine Coast and working from home with my office manager (Luna the mini schnauzer) was just a bonus.

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These days, I get to:

  • develop education programs with institutions and not for profit organisations who are doing awesome things to improve the lives of people with disabilities;

  • edit master's and doctoral theses for students at the pointy end of their degrees (and provide some moral support at a really stressful time);

  • edit and write with academics who are preparing articles, books, and reports for publications;

  • do my own writing, in lots of different forms (from hamsters to social theory);

  • coach students and academics to write better and deal with barriers to getting words on a page; and

  • maintain my connections to academia through my honorary position with the University of Melbourne.



University of Melbourne

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

My research thesis, Uncomfortable Histories: Learning with confronting and contentious histories in Australian museums, looked at the way museums and historic sites use 'uncomfortable' histories to teach visitors about the past and present. I spent time at three museum institutions (Museum Victoria, the Australian War Memorial, and the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority), analysing the display of of trauma, injustice, and discrimination and considering what was missing from the narratives of exhibitions.


University of Melbourne

Master of Teaching (Secondary)

My teaching areas are history, English as an additional language, and English.

For the thesis component of this degree, I explored the concepts of 'historical thinking' through the exhibitions at Melbourne's Immigration Museum.


University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Arts

In my undergraduate degree, I majored in history, and undertook minor studies in Spanish, development studies, and gender studies.

Publications list

Publications & presentations

Publications (refereed)

McKernan, A. (2023). ‘The Heterotopia and the palimpsest: Reading the layers of the Immigration Museum, Melbourne.’ In Temporality and Place in Educational Research: Looking Beyond Local/Global Binaries, edited by J. McLeod, K. O’Connor, A. McKernan, & N. Davis. Routledge.


Dulfer, N., McKernan, A., & Kriewaldt, J. (2023). ‘Undermining teachers’ social capital: A question of trust, professionalism, and empowerment.’ British Journal of Sociology of Education. doi:


Smith, C., Selkrig, M., Dulfer, N., Harrison, M., Cochrane, T., McKernan, A., Pollard, V. & Rasche, J. (2023). Traversing learning and leading collaboration: Stepping towards new power values during turbulent and in-between times. In Coleman, K., Uzhegova, D., Blaher, B., & Arkoudis, S. (Eds.), The Educational Turn. Routledge.

Dulfer, N., Kriewaldt, J., & McKernan, A. (in press). 'Using collaborative action research to enhance differentiation.' International Journal of Inclusive Education.


López López, L., McCaw, C., Di Biase, R., McKernan, A., Rudolph, S., Galatis, A., Dulfer, N., Gerrard, J., McKinley, E., McLeod, J., & Rizvi, F. (2020). 'The Quarantine Archives: Educators in “Social Isolation”.' History of Education Review 49(2): 195-213.


McKernan, A. (2020). ‘“A little more courageous”: cultural recognition and histories of migration and diversity at the Immigration Museum, Melbourne.’ Museum Management and Curatorship 35(1): 2-14, doi:


McKernan, A. & McLeod, J. (2018). ‘Commemoration, affective practice and the difficult histories of war.’ In Emotion, Affective Practices and the Past in the Present, edited by L. Smith, M. Wetherell, and G. Campbell, pp. 56-69. Oxon and New York: Routledge.


McKernan, A. (2018). ‘Affective practices and the prison visit: Learning at Port Arthur and the Cascades Female Factory.’ History of Education Review 47(2): 131-142. [Winner Emerald Publishing Awards for Excellence, Outstanding Paper 2019]. Open access:


McKernan, A. (2017). ‘Discomfort at the Australian War Memorial: Learning the trauma of war.’ History Australia 14(1): 99-114.


McKernan, A. (2015). ‘Thinking historically in the Immigration Museum’. Agora 50(4): 4-11.


Publications (non-refereed)


Selkrig, M., Dulfer, N., Harrison, M., Smith, C., Cochrane, T., & McKernan, A. (2023, forthcoming). Keeping it human: Learning design in the digital landscape. Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.

McKernan, A. (2022, May 1). ‘Why one cute hamster says everything you need to know about what online learning should be.’ Byteside.


McKernan, A. and Oldham, S. (2019). Confronting Histories and the Learner Profile. Report to the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at:


McKernan, A. (2018). ‘Civics and citizenship education in Australia: challenges, practices and international perspectives, edited by Andrew Peterson and Libby Tudball [Book review].’ Journal of Education for Teaching 44(4): 521-522.


McKernan, A. (2017). Uncomfortable Histories: Learning with contested and confronting histories in Australian museums (PhD thesis). Melbourne Graduate School of Education & School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.


Dulfer, N., McKernan, A. and Brindle, K. (2017). Different countries, different approaches to teaching and learning (Jeff Thompson project report). Report to the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at:


McKernan, A. (2017). ‘Childhood, youth and emotions in modern history: national, global and colonial perspectives, edited by Stephanie Olsen [Book review].’ History of Education 47(3): 432-433.


Flottman, R., McKernan, A., Church, A. & Tayler, C. Practice Principle 2: Partnerships with professionals [Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework Evidence Paper]. Department of Education and Early Childhood Education, Melbourne.


Conference presentations

Dulfer, N., McKernan, A. & Brindle, K. (2017). Differentiation in a Global Curriculum Context. Presentation at the British Educational Research Association conference, 5 – 7 September, Brighton, UK. [Authored, did not present.]


McKernan, A., Suda, E. & Molloy, J. (2017). Selective histories: Sifting and sorting truths. Presentation at the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria conference, 20 – 21 July, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2016). Memory, history and affective dissonance: Managing the past in the present at Port Arthur. Presentation at the Australian Association of Research in Education conference, 28 November – 2 December, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2015, July). Discomfort at the Australian War Memorial: learning the difficult histories of war and conflict. Presentation at the Australian Historical Association conference, 6 – 10 July, Sydney. [Recipient of AHA/Copyright Agency Bursary]


McKernan, A. (2014, May). Difficult history and social justice in Australia’s museums. Presentation at the Museums Australia Conference, 16 – 19 May, Launceston. [Recipient of a bursary from the Museum Australia Education Network]


McKernan, A. (2013, November). Comfort with discomfort: empathy and experience in Museum Victoria. Presentation at the MGSE Graduate Conference, 23 November, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2013, July). Difficult histories in German museums. Presentation at the HTAV Conference, 25 – 26 July, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2013, June). Uncomfortable Histories: Educating with difficult histories in Australian Museums. Presentation at the EERA Histories of Education Summer School, 13 – 16 June, Hamburg, Germany.


Jongebloed, L. & McKernan, A. (2012, July). Making the most of museums. Presentation at the HTAV Conference, 26 – 27 July, Melbourne.


Lectures and invited presentations


McKernan, A. (2019). Confronting Histories and the Learner Profile. Invited presentation at the International Baccalaureate Schools Australasia Leadership Symposium, 23 August, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2018). Teaching Confronted and Contested Histories in Museums. Presentation to the Museums Australia Education Network ‘It’s Academic’ seminar, 6 September, Melbourne.


McKernan, A. (2015). White walls and psychological punishment: Difficult history in Port Arthur’s Separate Prison. Sites of International Memory & Documenting UNESCO in Australia Workshop, August, University of Melbourne.


Other presentations

Buchanan, E., Gerrard, J., McKernan, A., & Rudolph, S. (2013, November). History in Education: A Discussion. Seminar conducted at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.

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