I became a classroom teacher in New South Wales (NSW) in 1969. My experience suggests that the most basic problem for the classroom practitioner in NSW is the contradiction implicit in syllabuses which require teachers to mediate the curriculum in the interests of the skills, needs and abilities of the students in their classes and a curriculum-making process that attempts to eliminate teacher decision-making from the classroom process. I have observed this in action and believe that it is a significant determinant of classroom practices. Since 1998 I have also been a lecturer in History Method at the University of NSW. My continuing classroom experience has been a powerful element in the preparation of hundreds of pre-service History teachers in my courses. I have been involved in History syllabus writing and revision in NSW since the 1970s. It has been suggested that my wearing of a number of different ‘hats’, academic, curriculum consultant and classroom practitioner, has given me an interesting ‘insider/outsider’ perspective on curriculum making in NSW. I believe it has also given me some insight into the challenges of classroom practice and professional learning.