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Gorton preschoolers explore the cultural heritage of Wangal land

- May 12, 2017

Gorton preschool's learning around Australia’s Aboriginal heritage continues. Educators and children have all learnt greatly from discussions and shared perspectives, and explored reasons why some believe acknowledgement of country is important.

In March 2017 the Gorton preschoolers and educators were so inspired by learning about Wangal country that they wrote a song acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. See the previous news story here. The song of acknowledgement led to greater curiosity from not only children, but also educators, about why acknowledgement of country is important.  Some of the children's questions, and the discussion provoked, are described below. Names have been changed to protect children's identities. 

  

Recently we gathered in our big group, and just before separating into smaller groups the children eagerly engaged in acknowledging Wangal land through singing our song:

We live on Wangal land

We play on Wangal land

Everyday we come together and learn on Wangal land.

Thank you Wangal land, Thank you Wangal land

Thank you Wangal people for sharing your land.

Raymond was so keen to tell us that he could now sing this song by himself, and asked if we would listen. We listened and thanked him for another beautiful acknowledgement of Wangal land. 

The song generated lots of meaningful discussion, helping children explore and broaden their understanding of the reasons for and significance of acknowledgement. 

Michael asked: Why do you say thank you to Wangal land?

Again, we discussed Aboriginal people as the first peoples of Australia, and through the coming of others many people lost their homes, language and stories - through this song we can acknowledge Wangal people, local people, and see what we can do to help acknowledge and learn about the history of our local community, as much of this has been lost to many over time.

  

Jane asked: Why do we say thank you to land when land doesn't have a mouth (I took this to mean - isn't alive or doesn't/can't engage in a reciprocal relationship). I explained that we thank the land because it helps us live; gives us shelter, food and water; and that many people believe Mother Earth is alive and share a special relationship with her, even if we can't see her mouth. 

Helen asked: Why aren't there Aboriginal people now? Why can't we see them? I explained that there are, some near and some far. Our own Marie, Kimberly and Judy are Aboriginal. Some children were suprised, but Marie, Kimberly and Judy proudly confirmed that they were Aboriginal and we acknowledged that they are from Wiradjuri country - as is Debra who wasn't present on this day. Marie went on to tell us that she went to Wiradjuri country and went on a Ferris wheel. The children and I discussed that there are many Aboriginal people in Australia, who don't necessarily look like they did hundreds of years ago, or that you might see in pictures or books. I explained that Aboriginal people are everywhere, and many of them are our friends. We as educators hope that through these discussions and learnings we can support all in our society to take an interest in, and be advocates for real reconciliation.  

Children and families tell us that these conversations have continued at home, returning to share their conversations and new understandings they have gained. Whilst eploring our large grounds, Jane told us that she had been talking with her dad, who had explained that a long time ago, before all the buildings were built on Wangal land, there were no supermarkets or shops. We gathered around to hear as Jane eagerly explained that Aboriginal people didn't need shops because they knew all about bush food and knew which food was safe to eat and which was not. She explained that they hunted animals and ate bush food and they never ate poisonous mushrooms because they knew which were poisonous and which were safe. This led to further discussion of what type of bush food might have grown on Wangal land all those years ago and that perhaps we could find out, and re-plant some of those foods in our very own garden. When we shared this discussion with Jane's dad in the afternoon he agreed to help us research this, as did another grandfather during another conversation. We love that not only are our children and educators sharing this learning, our families are also sharing and contributing to our journey. 

The photos in this story depict an experience in which children were exploring the greater grounds of TIH and noticing and discussing the changes over the past weeks of new growth, buds on trees, and little creatures. We encouraged children to share these observations with their friends, and some were keen to represent these through drawings. It was during this experience that Jane shared her discussion with her father on bush food with all of us. 

- Nicky Roditis, Early Childhood Teacher at Gorton House

     

    

For more information about the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan, see here.

 

 

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