Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where our journey begins… an anthology by primary school students



As part of my wonderful few months in Brisbane, I had the pleasure of doing a writing residency at St Peter Chanel in The Gap. During my time there I worked with the entire student body from Preps to Year 7, and together we created an anthology of writing titled Where Our Journey Begins.

Within these pages you will read the passionate, enthusiastic and engaging words of some very motivated and inspiring students in the SPC community.

In considering the role of totems in Aboriginal society the energetic Preps and Year 1’s were asked to choose a totem for their own clan, their own family. I think parents and siblings might be interested to see what animal each child chose for their totem to protect the ones they love, and why they wanted to protect their chosen totem. It was interesting to see that the black snake and carpet snake were as popular as the koala and the shark!

Years 2 and 3 brainstormed all the ways they could care for land and the sea, as well as why they should protect and respect the earth. In sharing their strategies for caring for country, they also explained why they love living on Turrbul land around The Gap.

Places like Uluru and the Bunya Mountains are known as sacred sites to Aboriginal people and important cultural heritage, but most of us have somewhere that is sacred to us on a personal level; a place that holds fond memories, a space where we feel safe and at peace. Years 4 and 5 wrote about those places that are sacred to them; why they are special, who they go there with, any rules there might be to protect their sacred place. They used their senses to describe in detail just exactly what the place was like, so the reader could be transported there as well. I’m sure you will be.

In talking about Indigenous Australia in modern society, Years 6 and 7 brainstormed all the words, phrases, people and concepts that come to mind when they think about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today. Some of their work also reflects their own understanding of our shared Australian history as well, and the choice to write performance pieces also helped them to tell their stories.

It is important to note that some of the words and phrases used in some these pieces reflect the racist vernacular of the time the children were writing about, such as ‘half-blood’ and ‘native’. This terminology is not used in today’s discussion around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Peoples of Australia.

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing journey with these beautiful students. I hope the parents enjoy the reading journey.

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