2020. What a year! I for one am so glad that it is coming to an end! I am counting down the days until the holidays begin and we can slow down and sink into holiday mode and enjoy some salt-water healing on our usual trip north to gorgeous Gumbaynggirr Country.
The tree is up, the elf has arrived and Christmas craft has started coming home from school – Christmas has arrived! While Christmas was not a traditional Aboriginal celebration, many of our mob embrace the holiday today and we celebrate it with great enthusiasm. Our mob gathers, we have a big feed and there is no shortage of laughter. Community Christmas events bring us together, providing opportunity for connection with people and culture. Blak Santas hand out gifts to our jarjums and the Aunties and Uncles gather, sharing stories that we have heard over and over but at the same time can never hear enough.
But before we can get to that we have to make it through the final weeks of term. The energy of kids this time of year seems to be ebbing on exploding with cards and candy canes starting to be exchanged. Teachers are frantic, writing reports and finishing work units as well as planning for next year, all while managing the day-to-day of classrooms full of tired children who are ready for their summer break.
Christmas craft is the perfect inclusion this time of year and this year we have some new handouts that bring an Aboriginal perspective into the busy classroom. Including simple activities like these helps keep Aboriginal content a regular inclusion in your classroom, even at this busy time.
Have fun exploring bush flavours or creating some Aboriginal inspired gift-cards or tree decorations with your students – I would love to see what you do!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a yarn and this week I have had so many interesting yarns with teachers about how they are approaching the Challenge. I love the diversity of approaches and the thought that has gone into the plans that are being rolled out across the country.
For some teachers this is the end of week 2 – can you believe how fast it is going? Astronomy was popular this week – lots of kids getting to learn about the amazing skies above us! We have two different astronomy lessons complete with video and other resources to support you on the Wingaru Kids platform. If you haven’t already come check them out!
NAIDOC is coming up and this year’s theme ‘Always was, always will be’ is a great theme to build your planner around. There are so many ways you can explore the theme. You might like to:
I have spoken to a few teachers who are using NAIDOC as inspiration for the Challenge so make sure you are sharing and following so you can see all the great ideas that are being shared! To give you some ideas on what you might do for a NAIDOC approach I have attached a sample planner below.
No matter how far in you are I would encourage you to check out some of the inspiration being shared under #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJChallenge.
Stage 2 NAIDOC Sample Planner - Download from link below
This week we announced the #PlanningWithWingaruandMrJ Challenge – an initiative to get teachers thinking and talking about including more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in their classrooms. The response has been amazing! I am so excited at the number of teachers who have said they are going to take part! I can’t wait to see what everyone does.
If you missed the initial posts about the Challenge, check out the previous blog, which has more information and the planner template: www.wingaru.com.au/blog/planner-challenge. You should also head on over to Mr J’s Learning Space to follow his journey.
In the words of Mr J “the #planningwithwingaruandmrj challenge is all about taking that first step and deciding to think more intentionally about what we do and how we can naturally incorporate First Nations content into our teaching and share the journey together to inspire and support other educators as they try to do the same”.
To give you some ideas on what you might do to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in each week for term 4, we have created 3 sample planners that I have attached here. These planners, one for each stage, illustrate just some of the different approaches you could take in including a weekly First Nations perspective.
Local Focus - Use term 4 to explore your local community. You could explore:
Country – how did the local mob use a river? or get to know the clans of the language group;
Language – what is the local language? Can you find examples of it? Is there a local speaker you could invite in?
Land management - what bush tucker grows in the area? What tools would likely have been made given the material available in the local environment? What sustainability practices were likely practised?
Perhaps you could look at how the local people are represented today. The possibilities are endless.
Build lessons around a single resource – this example shows how you can build experiences around one topic or resource. Consider the elements of your focus topic and build additional experiences to explore the elements. In our example we look at turtles but the same approach could be taken with many other subjects. Think about the key learning areas and how they may be present in your chosen resource.
Focus on a single topic/unit – this example shows the possibilities of choosing a topic you are learning about in your class and exploring it from many angles which supports students to develop a strong understanding of the related issues. This works well for topics where students should consider different opinions and perspectives on an issue as they develop their own thoughts on it.
You could apply any of these approaches to any stage with some tweaking or apply the approach to any topic that suits what is in your plan for term 4. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! The possibilities are endless – don’t forget to share your ideas by tagging @wingaru_education and @mr.j.learning.space
Stage 1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 2 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 3 Sample Planner - Download from link below
One question that teachers regularly ask me is how often they should include Aboriginal content or perspectives in their classrooms. There is no one answer that is going to work for every classroom and I always suggest that teachers start with what they are comfortable with. The most important thing is that you give it a go and build from there.
That said, I would love to see teachers including Aboriginal and Torres Strait content once a week. I think this is attainable and planning can support you to reach this target. One teacher who has taken up this challenge is Mr J of Mr J’s Learning Space who you can follow on insta here www.instagram.com/mr.j.learning.space/.
Mr J is one of those teachers we all want our kids to have. His energy is amazing and I love that he is so inclusive with both his classroom content and his approach to school leadership. So, when he responded to a post about including perspectives weekly (saying that he was aiming to do just that) I reached out to offer him a planner that would support him to include content each week for a term.
The planner is designed to help identify and organise the inclusion of First Nations content in all key learning areas for a term. I have included the planner below and I encourage you to take up the challenge of including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content each week of term 4, 2020.
Mr J will be including Aboriginal content in his classroom each week of term 4 and sharing it with you on his insta so make sure you follow along for inspiration and follow his tips to make this challenge achievable. Follow him here www.instagram.com/mr.j.learning.space/.
If you are reading this and thinking that I have lost touch with reality and there is no way you can include more in your already busy program, bear with me. I know including Aboriginal content or perspectives is daunting for many teachers. We will be sharing ideas and tips over the term to support you in the challenge, including examples of different approaches using the planner. Make sure you are following us on social media so you don’t miss these.
There are so many ways you can bring Aboriginal content or perspectives into your classroom. At Wingaru, we aim to support teachers by providing complete lessons that align with curriculum so that teachers can, if they choose, add an Aboriginal perspective to the content they are already teaching in the classroom. This approach means that even just 30 to 60 minutes can bring a new layer to student learning and increase the amount of Aboriginal content they are exposed to over the year. But if this approach isn’t for you that is ok. There are so many other ways you can approach bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in. You could:
Share your ideas with us online and borrow from other teachers’ ideas.
If one inclusion a week feels out of reach, don’t worry. Start where you are comfortable and increase at a pace that works for you. The Wingaru Planner is flexible and will work for you no matter how you approach the challenge or how many weeks you plan to include Aboriginal content. Just give it a go!
Finally, share your experiences with us. We want to see how you are including Aboriginal perspectives and would love to hear your ideas for meeting the challenge. Use the hashtag #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJ.
Download the planner and social media templates and join us in term 4 for the #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJ Challenge.
A4 Aboriginal Perspectives Teacher Planner - Download from link below
Challenge Social Media Templates - Download from links below
When I visit schools there is usually at least one teacher who asks why Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives are so important. This seems obvious but let’s not forget that Aboriginal education hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves so we are asking teachers to teach something that they themselves may not have received a lot of education about.
There are so many reasons why this content is important and the motivation will vary from person to person.
It is part of the job – inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives is required by curriculum and the Australian Professional Teaching Standards.
It supports Reconciliation – shared knowledge and understanding is key to reconciliation.
It supports better outcomes for Aboriginal students – Aboriginal kids do better when they can see themselves in the content they are learning. It supports them to feel connected and can build confidence to contribute in the classroom. The whole school participating in Aboriginal content supports a culturally inclusive school environment where Aboriginal kids can feel safe and happy.
It counters misconceptions and stereotypes that feed unconscious bias and racism – correcting negative stereotypes plays a part in reducing discrimination.
It supports truth telling - the true history of Australia should be known by all Australians.
Indigenous knowledge is really interesting – and who doesn’t love learning interesting stuff?
I could go on and on about the benefits of including Aboriginal perspectives, but I want to talk about why finding and understanding your motivation is so important.
Identifying your motivation is part of connecting to content and that connection is what, in my opinion, makes an amazing teacher. Think about the things you love to teach and what it is you love about them. Why did you connect with the content? How do you feel after you have shared your love of it with your students? Channel that energy and explore Aboriginal content until you find a spark.
There are so many opportunities to bring First Nations content into your lessons that there is bound to be something that you connect with. Teachers who include Aboriginal content because they have to, may not feel comfortable or confident in delivering the content and this shows.
How you connect with Aboriginal perspectives can drastically affect the impact Aboriginal content has. Finding your groove not only makes your job easier, it helps shape a better Australia.
Teachers are one of the strongest influencer groups and we need you to share a genuine interest in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander content. In doing so you can support the next generation to have an appreciation and understanding of our people and the journey that we have travelled to be here today, facing the challenges that we do.
Every Wingaru Kids lesson supports an understanding of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives. The following lessons talk directly to racism, stereotyping & cultural bias.
Based on a Watch-Play-Learn format, each lesson includes a video, digital activities, comprehensive curriculum-aligned lesson plan & printable support material.
Log into your Teacher Centre account to assign these lessons to your class or to view our full catalogue.
Don't have Wingaru Kids? Learn more about Wingaru Kids through our 10-day free trial. Sign your school up today at https://www.wingaru.com.au/wingaru-kids.html & see how we can help you include more Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives in your classroom.
I have started this post about six times now. I honestly don’t know what to write about Black Lives Matter and the racism debate that is raging in Australia right now. As an Aboriginal woman it is overwhelming. The racism that the world seems to finally be seeing is an everyday part of Aboriginal life. As an Aboriginal mum I am terrified for my boys and what they will endure in this world because of the colour of their skin.
I wondered if I should share my childhood experiences of racism, like:
Surely this would highlight that racism starts at a very young age and Australia needs change so that no child has to be at risk because of the colour of their skin. That no child should face racism before they even know what it is.
Or should I talk about the many times when the treatment of two boys in my extended family group – one white and one black – highlighted that being black meant you always got the raw end of the deal? Especially with the police. Should I talk about the time that they were riding an unregistered motorbike owned by the white kid, the black kid on the back: both wearing no helmets; both making stupid decisions as teenagers often do? Should I point out how the black passenger was arrested, not just fined, while the white owner of the unregistered bike, who should not have had a passenger, who also should have been wearing a helmet was given a warning? Should I talk about how this is just one of many examples I could talk about just in relation to those two lads? Surely this would highlight that race is often a factor in interactions with police.
Should I talk about white privilege and when I first became aware of mine? I was 17 and got called to the principal’s office to support a younger Aboriginal student who was in trouble for her response to being racially attacked by a white student. He was returned to class with no consequence while my koori sister was facing potential suspension. As we discussed the issue, she told me how lucky I was to be able to pretend I wasn’t Aboriginal if I wanted to while she could never escape it because of the way she looked. Should I talk about the awareness that her comment brought to my life and how sad I still feel that she once felt that way? Would talking about my white privilege help others acknowledge their white privilege and the impact it has on how they see the world?
Or is it better to talk about the racism I have experienced as an adult – the many cabs I have had to hail for dark-skinned friends, family and even strangers because cabs don’t stop for black people? Or the mouthfuls of hate I have copped from cabbies when they realise that the fair skinned person is letting Aboriginal people into their cab? Should I talk about the times I have had to pay for my trip up front because the driver refuses to move until we do? Amazingly this has only ever been an issue when I am with black people. Should I mention the time that I was filling out paperwork to start a new job and while making small talk with my new boss I mentioned I was Aboriginal? She instantly withdrew the job offer and eventually told me I was unsuccessful because they needed someone with more experience with petty cash. I had been working very similar roles with larger sums of petty cash for three years and had glowing references. But sure, let’s pretend my lack of experience was the issue. Should I talk about the many conversations I have had to listen to about how terrible Aboriginal people are, or how many times I have been told “but you are different, you are one of the good ones”?
Should I talk about my weekend on social media? In many of the groups I am part of – whether it be mums’ groups, business groups or hobby groups – that when the issues of Black Lives Matter or racism were raised they were met with racist rants denying all existence of racism and asserting that they were somehow a victim of black people’s search for fair treatment. Should I talk about how admins in these groups often dealt with the issue by deleting the anti-racism posts rather than asking those that were uncomfortable with the conversation to refrain from making racist comments? Even posts from fair-skinned mums checking in to see if Aboriginal mums were ok or asking what they can do to help or how they could educate their children about racism were deleted. Should I talk about how this made several of these groups an unsafe space for black mums and mums of black children? Should I talk about the lost opportunity to educate on this issue and to support any mum who wants to talk to their child about racism? Who is going to educate kids if mums are not supported to do so?
Do I talk about the racism that I have experienced as an Aboriginal business? Should I talk about how people assume we get huge government handouts (we don't)? Or that our resources should be free because government has already paid for them? Should I describe:
Each and every one of these things that I want to talk about is relevant and will resonate with people differently. But they all share one thing in common and that is change.
Each of us can help to change the conversation. We need to stop debating about whether there is racism in Australia because the simple fact is that there is. Findings from an Australian National University study released last week found that three in four Australians held an unconscious racial bias against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. (You can read more about that here https://www.sbs.com.au/news/three-in-four-australians-hold-racial-bias-against-indigenous-people-study-finds)
So why are we still debating it? Why are people still denying it and trying to shut down attempts by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to be heard and to bring about change? And perhaps most importantly what are we doing to make sure the next generation has a better understanding of racism?
One thing is very clear – as a nation, our understanding of racism needs work. We think of racism being a deliberate act to discriminate against someone based on race. We rarely think about the unconscious bias that is also racism. We need to see it, we need to acknowledge it, we need to actively ensure we don’t do it and we need to make sure our kids are supported to understand it so that they don’t fall into the same patterns.
Tomorrows leaders are sitting in classrooms today – let’s help them do better and give them the information they need to create a less racially biased world.
Tip 1: Participate in a simultaneous learning experience with “All Together Now for Reconciliation”.
Across Australia children in early learning centres, primary and high schools, can simultaneously join the reconciliation movement and learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices via an exciting online platform we have developed in partnership with Reconciliation NSW.
“All Together Now for Reconciliation” is a simultaneous classroom experience specially created to provide easy and accessible cultural content and is a great way to engage kids in activities for National Reconciliation Week. Students will learn about the theme of Reconciliation through age-appropriate activities and discussions:
To participate join us online at www.togethernow.com.au.
Tip 2: Learn more about this year’s theme.
Visit the Reconciliation Australia website to learn more about the 2020 theme “In this together”. While you’re there download this year’s poster to display in your classroom.
Tip 3: Have an open discussion in your classroom.
What does reconciliation mean to your students? Encourage your students to explores the five dimensions of reconciliation as identified by the State of Reconciliation in Australian 2016 Report – historical acceptance, race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity and unity.
Tip 4: Learn more about the significance of the dates at the beginning and end of National Reconciliation Week.
National Reconciliation Week is held on the same dates every year – 27 May to 3 June. Both these dates mark two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, which gave the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to include them in the Census; and the High Court Mabo decision, which saw the concept of terra nullius overturned.
Our Wingaru Kids platform provides informative and engaging lessons on both these important dates with our “1967 Referendum” and “Mabo” lessons. Each lesson includes a lesson plan, curriculum outcomes, video, digital activities and printable resources.
Tip 5: Check out one of the Reconciliation activities
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. Visit the Reconciliation Australia website check out this year’s National Reconciliation Week events.
Ya (hi) everyone, my name is Alana Gall and I am an Indigenous health researcher at Menzies School of Health Research. I come from a large Pakana/Tasmanian Aboriginal family. Our Ancestors connect us back to the North East coast of lutruwita/Tasmania, and more recently to the Bass Strait Islands of Cape Barren and Flinders Island. One of my family’s ancestors, a woman named Pularilpana, was abducted by European sealers in the early 1800s and taken to the Bass Strait Islands. A number of Pakana/Tasmanian Aboriginal families ended up on the many islands in north east Bass Strait (or the Furneaux Islands) but were eventually forced to live at the Aboriginal Reserve on Cape Barren Island. ningimpi-mana (My Nanna), was born on Flinders Island and grew up there and on Cape Barren Island. I currently work on Turrbal and Jagara Country in Brisbane.
I have always been exposed to natural medicines and cultural ways of life. My Dad, Andrew Gall (kurina), always hunted for food when I was young. He would catch snakes, go spear fishing and also hunt for kangaroos. My Mum, who is of English descent, was a keen gardener (as was her father) and growing food “organically” was just a normal part of our lives. So we tended to use both bush medicines that were traditionally used by my ancestors in Tasmania, as well as natural remedies passed down in my Mum’s family. Growing up I didn’t know this was different to other people and I always liked the idea of using the things placed on earth to heal.
It wasn’t until my daughter was 5 years old though that I really understood just how powerful these natural medicines could be. She had suffered with pustular tonsillitis no less than 5 times in one year. The sixth bout was very stubborn, and I ended up having to go to the doctor for a third lot of antibiotics as it just wasn’t clearing up. This upset me as I hated seeing my daughter in so much pain and the doctor was saying she’d need to get her tonsils removed. I am of the belief that where possible we should keep everything in our bodies, as otherwise why would it be there? So I didn’t like that option either. I decided to jump on the internet and try to find an alternative so looked into natural medicines for tonsillitis on there. I ended up giving her Schuessler Tissue salts and echinacea tincture. Her pustular tonsillitis healed up and now she is 18 years old and hasn’t suffered with it since! This solidified in my mind just how powerful these medicines are and that I wanted to know more.
Since that time my passion for natural medicines has seen me complete courses in Flower Essence therapy and Iridology, a degree in Nutritional medicine, and a Masters by research that focussed on traditional and complementary medicine use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients. Through this work I have been able to see just how important these medicines are to the people who use them. In one study I highlight the need for the health sector to open up communication about traditional and complementary medicines in the health care setting, and ensure they are not allowing their own biases about medicine to interfere with providing culturally safe care. As teachers and parents, it is equally important that we understand about these medicines so we can speak confidently about them, and also teach the young ones. This is especially true for the traditional medicines of my people, and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders around Australia. These medicines have been shown to provide them with physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, which is congruent with their differing views on health, being that of a holistic model of health.
As teachers, it is especially important that you also provide a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to learn. Through putting your bias aside (assuming you adhere to the reductionist model of health care that is the politically dominant one in Australia) you allow these children to feel accepted in the school setting. By teaching about bush medicine in the classroom, not only is this an interesting and engaging subject for all your students, you foster an environment of inclusion which in turn may reduce racism in the future generations.
I am happy to share what I know, so please contact the team at Wingaru if you have any particular bush medicine topics you’d like to know more about and they can work with me to develop the resources you need to teach your children with confidence about this topic.
nayri nina-tu (thank you) Alana
Pakana woman, Alana Gall, is an Indigenous health researcher at Menzies School of Health Research.
You can follow Alana’s work on:
This week marks 250 years since Lieutenant James Cook explored the east coast of a largely unknown southern continent in the Endeavour and ultimately claimed the entire land for the British. Despite significant protests, the Australian Government recently planned extravagant events and monuments at enormous expense to celebrate that history*.
Regardless of your views on settlement and the events leading to it, Cook’s journey of exploration was monumental in the development of the country that we now know as Australia. Like it or not, that visit by Cook was ultimately devastating for Aboriginal People and culture as British invasion brought death and destruction to our shores.
Reading through Cook’s journals we know that Cook wasn’t welcomed when he first landed and encountered the Aboriginal People of Botany Bay. We also know that he was heavy handed in his approach when he was unable to appease them with trinkets. He quickly decided that the people he met here did not meet his definition of “civilised”. Later, when stranded for seven weeks at Endeavour River (near today’s Cooktown) Cook and his men lived alongside a local tribe and witnessed a harmonious and fulfilled society who wanted for nothing. Despite interacting peaceably and benefitting from the hospitality of the locals Cook went on to declare Australia terra nullius (belonging to no-one) and claimed the land for his country.
However, this is not the story Australians have been taught. Cook, and the settlers that followed, have been given a heroic role in the history of Australia. In the 80s, when I was at school, I found myself participating in celebrations of Cook and his successors without any understanding of what these events meant for my People. There was never any inclusion of the Aboriginal perspective or a hint that these much-celebrated events had a negative impact on the existing population.
I often think about the day my mum sent me to school dressed as a settler. I wore a beautiful lemon dress that had long sleeves and a full skirt, very similar to the dresses that women wore back then. I was excited – that dress was pretty – the photos from the day are all about the dress as I showed it off, unaware of what we were really celebrating and how my mum must have felt sending her Aboriginal child off to school to celebrate the beginning of the destruction of her culture. It’s a feeling that I will not have to face as a parent. My generation, and those to follow, know it is our choice not to participate. And that choice is increasingly respected by the wider community.
However, imagine the possibilities if we, as a nation, had simply acknowledged the truth from the outset – that Australia was invaded and Cook’s visit began an onslaught that would change the Aboriginal way of life forever. Imagine where we could be if we didn’t spend centuries learning a false history and arguing about the injustices that occurred. If instead we accepted that the injustice happened and resulted in disadvantage; that the travesties occurred in another time when those actions were not seen as wrong; and that Australia was a result of all past actions, good or bad.
Would we have spent centuries compounding the damage? Would we, as a nation, be more willing to see the impact and acknowledge the resulting disadvantage? Would we be more willing to work towards a solution? Would we have made greater progress in the work towards reconciliation?
We will never know. But this week, as the nation talks about Cook and his great ship “discovering” this land, Aboriginal land, don’t forget to also talk about the People who were already here. You don’t need to assign a good role and a bad role. We just need to respect and acknowledge both perspectives and recognise the truth of our history. It isn’t pretty but it is only with truth that we that can move forward.
* Covid-19 has meant that these events have not proceeded in 2020.
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.