Traditional ecological knowledge has been used in powerful combination with Western science to enhance the biodiversity and cultural values of wetlands in Kakadu National Park in Australia's Northern Territory.
|Scooped by Natassja Amelia Whitaker|
The following website is a great resource for teachers to use in the classroom. It presents an aboriginal perspective, detailing how fire management was used as a traditional strategy to help care for the land. It also introduces the significance of wetlands to indigenous Australians, and described how this natural ecosystem and its biodiversity flourished as a result of fire management. The resource relates to HSIE K-6 outcomes ENS1.5, compares and contrasts natural and built features in their local area and the ways in which people interact with these features, and ENS1.6, demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between environments and people.
The website answers of series of questions concerning why fire management of wetlands was/is important, and the positive effect that burning has on the ecosystem in terms of improving diversity of flora and fauna. The website also goes into detail about how fire management controls Mudja - a native grass that chokes wetland plants and diminishes habitats. Additionally, it features a short video to accompany the information, with the underlining message: “You look after the country, and the country will look after you”.
Incorporating Aboriginal perspectives into the curriculum provides a wonderful opportunity to value indigenous cultural heritage and enrich education for students (Nakata, 2011). Browett and Ashman (2010) stress the importance of educating students about different cultures outside their immediate community, in order to encourage appreciation, value and respect diversity. Exposure to an array of cultures also attributes to students cultural understandings, assists them in forming a sense of identity, and allows them to positively understand their place in the world (Browett & Ashman, 2010).
Lesson Activity Ideas: In addition to educating students on the significance of fire management, teacher could also introduce and define the term ‘wetland’ (providing a local example if possible). Discuss the importance of land to Aboriginal people. Explain how aboriginal people lived in harmony with environment. Examine other methods of how Aboriginal people cared for the land. Teacher could organise a trip to the local wetland and distribute worksheets to students where they can identify features of the natural ecosystem, including identifying what kinds of flora and fauna flourish there. Encourage students to identify if there is any pollution present. Afterwards teacher can stimulate a group discussion reflecting on the harm this pollution may be causing to the biodiversity present. Teacher could construct a group mind map with the class to summarise findings or encourage students to creatively present the findings to the class. Teacher could introduce peer assessing where students can constructively offer insight and advice to their peers. These lesson ideas would effectively build on literacy and public speaking skills.
Note to teachers: When planning additional extension tasks or assessments, it is imperative to adopt a critical perspective to ensure that stereotypes and prejudice views are NOT introduced in the classroom (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2014).
Working towards ENS1.5 indicators:
- expresses feelings for particular environments and why they have these feelings
- recognises Aboriginal people's special relationship with the land
Working towards ENS1.6 indicators:
- recognises that Aboriginal people have interacted positively with the environment for a long time
- recognises that people from other cultures have differing relationships with the environment
Browett, J. & Ashman, G. (2010). Thinking Globally: Global Perspectives in the Early Years Classroom. Carlton South, Australia: Education Services Australia.
Nakata, M. (2011). Pathways for Indigenous Education in the Australian Curriculum Framework. Indigenous Education, 40, 1-8.
Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences: History, Geography, Economics and Citizenship in the Australian Curriculum (5th ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Cenage Learning Australia.