Across every aspect of the school, we acknowledged National Reconciliation Week (NRW) in varied and meaningful ways.
As a significant milestone in the annual calendar, NRW is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared history, First Nations cultures and peoples, and to focus on ways we can achieve reconciliation in Australia. The theme for NRW 2023, ‘Be a Voice for Generations’, encourages us ALL to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives.
Chapel, Choirs and Art Gallery Displays
As a school, we acknowledged NRW in a special Reconciliation themed Chapel service. An art gallery was created in the Chapel windows, displaying works inspired by First Nations artists. A special display of First Nations artefacts were available to view in the Library foyer and many children used the focus on NRW to borrow Dreamtime stories during their library time.
The SPW choirs took part in joining the ‘Voices for Generations Choir’ as part of the Reconciliation Week campaign. They recorded a performance of ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ to join with 500+ choirs nationwide performing the song in solidarity with the NRW theme ‘Be A Voice for Generations.’
Across the Early Years
The children in the ELC watched a Play School episode called “Walking Together” that fosters children’s early understandings about our shared histories and the role we all play in building relationships and communities that value First Nations peoples, histories, cultures and futures.
In Reception, children worked with their buddy classes to learn about the significance of the Piltangka Plaza. They drew a map and learnt about the First Nations symbols displayed around Piltangka Plaza. They also read the Dreamtime story Tiddalik the Frog.
To connect with their unit of inquiry into how toys and games have changed over time, the Year 1 children learnt about First Nations toys. They also engaged in many First Nations stories and enjoyed creating their own artworks to re-tell the Dreamtime story ‘How the Birds Got Their Colours.’
As part of an inquiry into past and present, the Year 2s placed First Nations history on a timeline and discovered that First Nations peoples have the longest continuous history in Australia, and they learnt that the Acknowledgement of Country recognises this wonderful fact.
The Year 1 and Year 2 children joined together for an Immersive Acknowledgement of Country Incursion. Gathering in Piltangka Plaza to learn from Jade Brook, a Nharangga/ Kaurna woman, they heard about the importance of acknowledging First Nations peoples as the traditional custodians of the land and their special connection with the land. With their shoes off to connect with the land, they listened to what they could hear, acknowledged what they could feel, and looked for what they could see.
Learning through the Middle Years
The Year 3 students learnt that Australia Post, together with Gomeroi woman and Wiradjuri activist Rachel McPhail, is encouraging people to add First Nations Countries to the addresses on letters, as a sign of respect. They practised writing a letter to a friend or family member and learnt many new First Nations Country names from around Australia!
As part of their inquiry unit ‘All About Australia’, the Year 5s are investigating Uluru, considering the different perspectives surrounding the significant landmark. They are exploring the climbing ban of Uluru, in an effort to better understand the First Nations peoples’ connection to the land.
Reconciliation week linked perfectly with the Year 6 HASS unit on Human Rights. The children learnt about Women’s rights, Children’s rights, First Nations and Migrant rights. They learnt about the Stolen Generations and watched Rabbit Proof Fence and read The Rabbits. Their English exposition assignment asks the question ‘How can we be a voice for future generations?’ It was a wonderful week of learning, reflecting, empathising and deep thinking through a variety of thinking routines explored with the classes.
Acknowledging and celebrating National Reconciliation Week is identified as an important aspect of our Reconciliation Action Plan. St Peter’s Woodlands is committed to building better relationships between the wider community and First Nations Australians for the benefit of all Australians.
Article by Lindy Francis, Year 1 Teacher