The world is mostly divided between countries that celebrate independence and countries that celebrate unification or revolution.
Brent James Papas's insight:
Whilst it is important for our students to learn about the nationally recognised days within Australia, having a global perspective on the importance of national days across the globe can strengthen students understanding of global cultures and identities, a beneficial attribute to have in multicultural Australia. Students will also be able to draw similarities and differences between cultures, to see what makes Australian culture both unique and connected to the globe. By exploring other cultures students will have a deeper understanding about the history of some of the identities in multicultural Australia.
When teachers are using this resource above, the written article is far too advanced for stage 3 students, hence only focus on the image. The image displays an international map of why each country celebrates their national day. There are four reasons; due to revolution, due to a declaration of independence from a mother country, other reasons, and countries that have no national day. This resource is an extremely useful tool for Gilberts and Hoepper’s ‘geographical thinking’ which declares that through maps, students learn to recognise relationships, spatial distributions and patterns. (2011, pp. 266-269). This map would be useful if the teacher prepared a set of questions for discussion to ensure the students understand the map before moving onto an activity. Good and Brophy suggest effective teachers plan a set of questions which build from initial lower order questions focusing on recognizing and understanding, and moving to higher order questions which require students to analyse, evaluate and draw conclusions (1990, p. 12). This form of questioning directly relates to the theory behind Anderson's Revised Taxonomy. A teacher would first ask questions like “What do we call this? (pointing to the key) How does this help us read our map?” to ensure students can effectively read the map first. Then he/she would move to more analytical questions like “Why do you think independence day related national days have the greatest proportion across the globe?” The questioning sequence also gives the opportunity to explore mathematics as it provides the teacher with an opportunity to display the data in different graphs or charts, or even physically split the class into the four groups across the room to talk about proportions and high or low percentages. Making a physical representation by using the students is what Gilbert and Hoepper refer to as ‘simulation’ where “models of reality aim to reproduce real experiences in as authentic way as possible” (2011, p. 149). However, in order to make the learning relevant to the cultures strand, the teacher would get each student to draw a country from a hat, and each student must use search engines to explore that country’s national day. A list of questions to guide students would be a useful provision by the teacher. Each student will be given a Venn diagram to explain what makes their researched country unique, what makes Australia unique, and what connects the two cultures. This diagram can be used to assess students understanding. This will most likely take more than one lesson.
It is important for students to explore the Australian ANZAC culture and how this contributes to the Australian identity, as well as Australia's historical identity. Before using this resource however, teachers would ensure that students already have a prior knowledge of ANZAC day and what it commemorates. A prior lesson may be needed.
A significant part of being Australian is respecting and remembering those who fought in the wars so we can live in the nation that exists today. This theme is alluded to throughout the chosen resource above. The poem depicts the perspective of a war survivor who has marched in the ANZAC parade, and highlights that as part of the Australian ANZAC culture we will never forget those who have died defending this land. Teachers can use resources like these as a platform for discussing these ideas, as well as the values of mateship, courage, bravery and sacrifice; some strongly upheld ideals by the ANZAC soldiers. When reading through the poem as a class, the teacher could discuss with students some literary techniques that the composer has used, and decipher some of the difficult words such as ‘digger’ or ‘beckoned’ by reading the words in the context of the sentence. For an assessment task, students would write their own poem about ANZAC day and the importance of remembering those who served as a way of exploring the importance of Australia's historical identity. The teacher will encourage students to use literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and visual language. The literacy focus on this activity allows for "learning across discipline or learning areas." (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, p. 106). The chosen website also contains 10 other poems that a teacher could choose to use with students.
Gilbert and Hoepper also highlight that “empathy is central to historical learning... because empathetic thinking can help make the strange more understandable.” (2011, pp. 227-228). Therefore, using this resource which has an empathetic aspect, allows students to understand more wholesomely the ANZAC Australian identity.
A record number of migrants have officially become Australians, as they joined new fellow citizens to celebrate Australia Day.
Brent James Papas's insight:
Whilst traditionally Australia Day commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in 1788, the national celebration in contemporary Australia celebrates so much more. It is a day for embracing migrants as new citizens, a day for celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity, a day for appreciating the beautiful land we live in and a day for celebrating both Australia’s history and future (NADC, 2011, para. 1-5). Teachers could hence use Australia Day to teach students how different cultural influences contribute to Australian Identities (CUS3.3) but also how the Australian culture has become more diverse through interactions with other cultures and the environment (CUS3.4).This resource describes the variety of celebrations and ceremonies that occur on Australia Day. From sheep shearing to commemorate Australia’s history of farming culture, to the beach culture on the coast, to the Citizenship Ceremony welcoming new Australians from across the globe, and to the cultural diversity in the ‘Peoples Parade’ on Melbourne celebrating “moulbournians from all walks of life.”
A teacher would use this resource to spark a game of ‘snowball’ using mixed ability groups. The teacher writes on the board ‘What does Australia day celebrate?’ and each student write their definition on a piece of paper before the video is played. Once students watch the video, they are given the opportunity to change their answer. Simultaneously, students are also engaged in the listening component of the ‘talking and listening’ subject matter for literacy. Students share their answer in pairs or threes and can add information to their definition. The pairs then form groups of 6 and must come up with a joint answer to the question. At the end of the activity, all the answers are written on the board and students will understand the diversity of culture that makes up Australian identities. Once all the answers are on the board, the teacher will ask students for similarities in all the answers, and then ask students if they think the answer would be the same if it were asked to students 60 years ago in order to introduce students to the idea of cultures changing (CUS3.4). In an activity like this, student participation is maximised “because of the quality of discussion and dialogue” (Petty, 2009, p. 217). The activity also follows the pedagogy behind “discovery learning” where new information is discovered by students in an explorative learning environment (McInerney & McInerney, 2010, p. 138). Furthermore, the focus on group work is known as co-operative learning, a research justified teaching method which enhances cognitive development by allowing students to make connections with the learning and generate ideas through talk (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2011, p. 145).
For an assessment task, students will create a news segment in groups where they interview parents, family friends, trusted neighbours, fellow students and even teachers on 3 things; what they do for Australia Day, what Australia Day means to them and how they believe Australia Day has changed from 60 years ago. In this way, students explore how people of different backgrounds celebrate the day, and the changes to Australian culture through increasing diversity.
Harmony Day is celebrated in many primary schools across Australia. Hence by stage 3 teachers should utilise the event to look for resources that allow students to explore and discuss Australia’s ever growing and changing multicultural landscape (Connell, et al., 2010, chap. 6).
The link to this SBS website contains an array of Census based statistics that allows teachers to mathematically and graphically display to students the cultural diversity of any place in the whole of Australia. The use of statistical data in the form of easy to read maps and graphs allows students to explore this topic in the form of visual representations. Petty suggests that visual representations are extremely useful in the classroom for several reasons; they isolate the key points of the learning, the recalling of information is easier when it is triggered visually, and that “visual language is very close to the brain’s natural language, ‘mentalese’”. (2009, p. 133). This resource also integrates mathematical learning through “the use of real data which is easily accessible and a powerful resource for developing children’s mathematical knowledge.” (Bobis, Mulligan and Lowrie, 2009, p. 76). However, teachers must be aware of the highly dense nature of some of the content. To avoid student confusion, teachers should only focus on specifically chosen graphs and use the website in whole-class teaching rather than individual work. The teacher would use questioning to get students to make predictions about the location of ethnic and language communities as well as the most densely diverse areas of Australia. The ‘compare’ feature of this website allows teachers to place statistical maps and graphs in juxtaposition next to each other in order for deeper analysis of Australia’s cultural diversity. For example a teacher might ask, “If I compare Sydney to Dubbo, which do you think will have more Arabic speakers?” In this way, teachers are not ‘teaching by telling’ but instead ‘teaching by asking’, a far more effective way of ensuring student engagement (Petty, 2009, pp. 211-12). Students can also explore the ‘Country of Births’ (see website) with the easy to read maps which displays how our country is made up mainly of migrants. After the exploration of these maps, the teacher could conclude discussions by asking questions such as, “So what makes up the Australian identity? What is harmony day about? Why is it important?” Gilbert and Hoepper argue that when a teacher uses geographical resources like this, it is most important that students are engaged in a process of interpretting (2011, p. 278). Questioning techniques by the teacher facilitates this by prompting students to think about what the information tells us about current situations." (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, p. 278).
As an assessment task, students will ask their parents, grandparents or caregivers about their family’s background and migration history. They will write a speech about their own culture and their own identity. After their speech, each student places pins on the origins of their parents, and ties a ribbon to a pin placed on Sydney, in order to create a visual representation of the diversity within their own classroom.
Through investigating NAIDOC week, teachers can effectively embed Aboriginal perspectives into the classroom whilst simultaneously engaging students in understanding the contribution of Aboriginal cultural influences to Australian identities.
Gilbert and Hoepper argue that the most beneficial approach to embedding Aboriginal perspectives is in a holistically and culturally appropriate manner (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, p. 386). They argue that at the ‘curriculum level’, the best teachers will engage students in resources “where indigenous knowledge is embedded... and where resources reflect indigenous perspectives.” (2011, p. 388). The video above clearly states the purpose of NAIDOC week, but more importantly celebrates Aboriginal culture in an accurate and sensitive way. Unlike many resources which can inaccurately suggest to students Aboriginal culture is a ‘stone-age’ uncivilised race (Smyth, Lecture, 17th April 2013), this video depicts Aboriginal culture in a contemporary and “future-orientated” context (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, p. 388) by displaying NAIDOC celebrations in Aboriginal dance, art, body art, music and language terms (e.g. ‘mob’) through real Aboriginal interviewees.
Following a viewing of the video, teachers could lead a whole class mind mapping activity assisted with discussion about Aboriginal Identity as an ongoing part of the identities in multicultural Australia. The words 'Aboriginal Identity' would feature in the middle of the brainstorm. The video would also serve as great preparation for a localised interaction with an Aboriginal community member. Students would work in groups to prepare a list of interview questions with regards to NAIDOC week or Aboriginal culture, and then as an assessment task, work individually to create an information report [literacy integration] on NAIDOC and Aboriginal Identity. In this manner, students are involved in inquiry based learning by firstly considering what they want to know, then investigating these answers with a guest speaker, and finally processing the data in a final product (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, pp. 108-111). Students are also involved in 'service learning', a highly authentic form of learning which includes community exploration to connects classroom learning to real life situations" (Gilbert and Hoepper, 2011, pp. 152-154).
To ensure this resource was appropriate for teaching Aboriginal perspectives, there were many selection criteria’s I checked:
- Authenticity: The date of the resource is after 1980 and the Aboriginal people in the video are acknowledged with captions that state their name and the Aboriginal group from which they come. For example in the first 30 seconds, Delta Kay is acknowledged as part of the Arakwal people. The images of Aboriginal culture is also shown in a positive and accurate way.
- Balanced nature of presentation: There is no over-representation of men in the role of ceremonies but instead a balanced representation between men and women. There is no evidence of racist or stereotypical connotations or derogatory terms throughout the video. Most importantly it does not presume Aboriginal people live in the past and instead looks at Aboriginal culture as a continuing part of Australia.
- Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Participation: Aboriginal interviewees are used.
- Accuracy and support: At the 2 minute mark of the video, there is a poster at the event with the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council symbol displayed. The interviewing of Aboriginal people means the Aboriginal community were involved in the making of the video.
- Exclusion of content of a secret or sacred nature: Aboriginal dance and art is displayed, but with full acknowledgment of filming and interviewing.
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