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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Tomlinson)

Aboriginal Perspectives Resources (with thanks to Anita Heiss)

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 27, 2013


As teachers know, the new Australian Curriculum includes three cross-curriculum ‘priorities’, one of which is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.  One of the science topics includes Year 2 students identifying toys from different cultures that use the forces of push or pull, and this made me wonder about traditional Aboriginal games and whether there was a concept of a ‘toy’ in nomadic lifestyles.  I’ve read a few memoirs and a quite a few children’s books by ATSI authors but I don’t recall any of them referring to this topic at all.

My Australian Story: Who am I?Keen to include Aboriginal perspectives on this topic if possible, I contacted Dr Anita Heiss who is Adjunct Professor at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Many teachers will also know her as the author of My Australian Story: Who am I?

Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal LiteratureBut she also co-edited the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature which I recommend as an introduction to the diversity of indigenous writing  – see my review at ANZ LitLovers  - and she is also the author of these entertaining novels: Manhattan Dreaming, Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, and Paris Dreaming.  These popular novels are about sharing the highs and lows of being an urban Aboriginal woman but pitched at a mainstream audience.  Read more about the rationale for these ‘chick-lit’ novels here.

Manhattan Dreaming Not Meeting Mr Right Avoiding Mr Right Paris Dreaming

Am I Black Enough for You?Her most recent book is Am I Black Enough for You? which as the book blurb says is a rejoinder to racist remarks made about ‘being too ‘fair-skinned’ to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to  Anita’s involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue. This book is on my TBR and I will be reviewing it on the ANZ LitLovers blog when I’ve read it.

Anyway, Anita generously gave her time to reply to my query with some suggested sites:

Yulunga, Traditional Indigenous Games is an ‘activity resource of over 100 traditional Indigenous games created to provide all Australians with an opportunity to learn about, appreciate and experience aspects of Indigenous culture’.   It’s available as a CD-ROM.  Order it here.

There are tips and advice about teachers self-educating about indigenous history and culture at The Critical Classroom.   It’s not about doing formal professional development (though that’s a good idea if you can access it), it’s about reading indigenous literature, listening to indigenous music, using social media and viewing indigenous music. I’d add checking out indigenous art wherever you can access it, and if you’re in Melbourne, keeping an eye out for relevant events at the Wheeler Centre or the NGV at Federation Square.   If you’re keen to read indigenous literature, you might want to join in Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers, I’m hosting it there each year during NAIDOC Week.  (If you don’t know where to begin, I’ve also reviewed some lovely books about indigenous art, mostly published by Wakefield Press, and UQP who sponsor the David Unaipon Award and are great supporters of indigenous writing have also sent me some interesting memoirs.  Check the Indigenous Writing Category in the ANZ LitLovers RHS menu to see what’s available there.)

The Critical Classroom has all kinds of useful resources including this game: Birrguu Matya: A Wiradjuri board game.   Links for where to buy it are here and if you ‘like’ The Critical Classroom at Facebook you can keep in touch with all kinds of stuff.

If you know of any additional resources or bloggers who’re working on this too, please share what you know in the comments below.

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