At Explore and Develop Annandale, we ensure Indigenous perspectives in curriculum is an important part of what we do each day. This year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of her we can’ provided provocations for educators to explore different ways to study Aboriginal perspectives and enrich our curriculum content with our Possums (preschool room).
We decided we would revisit one of the Possum’s favourite books, ‘Say Yes’ by Jennifer Castles. After reading the book we discussed social activists Jessie Street and Faith Bandler and the role they played in the 1967 Referendum. They worked tirelessly and were determined to change the law for Aboriginal People. Upon investigation educators realised that Jessie Street also features in ‘Shout out to the Girls’, a book that celebrates amazing Australian women. This sparked an interest and lead to further research on the other women in the book, and online. Some popular women with the children were Ella Havelka, Jessie Street and Jade Hameister.
On Friday 6th July we travelled to Glebe Public School to join their NAIDOC celebrations. We met in the main meeting area where Aunty Wendy and the kindergarten children were gathered. We joined as they sang and danced to Aunty Wendy’s music. Shortly after, we spent some time watching beautiful Torres Strait Islander dancing. Splitting into small groups we explored some of the cultural activities and experiences that were on offer. Some of the children’s favourites were threading, meeting the police horse, painting in a collaborative piece and learning about our native reptiles. We bumped into our friend Aunty Kathy (Kathryn Dodd Farrawell) who made the amazing art work for Glebe NAIDOC 2018 that celebrates the theme ‘Because of her we can’. This was such a wonderful opportunity to for the children to experience culture and connect with our local community.
The Possums have always had a keen interest in Aboriginal art, so we decided another important Aborignal Woman to learn more about was Bronwyn Brancroft. Bancroft lives in the inner west, has been a strong advocate for Aboriginal artists and children, her art is loved world wide. We began by reading her book, ‘Why I love Australia’. We discussed perspectives, shapes and colours. Our children were very intrigued by her work and we found her book being used as a provocation for both drawings and arranging (transient art) pieces. We further researched her art and became particulry interested in the large art pieces we found on her page (https://www.bronwynbancroft.com).
Reading ‘Deadly Australians’ by Rhonda Craven and James Wilson-Miller was the perfect way to feed the children’s interest in Bronwyn as she features in the book. This, along with educators knowledge, was shared with the children through a series of group times and conversations. Bancroft’s books also made it along to one of our excursions, where we compared the pictures in the book to the landscape of the park. Two of our children decided they would recreate their favourite parts of her work, particularly the colours and dots.
In ‘Deadly Australians’ Bancroft says, “I love creating things from nothing that people can cherish and learn from, and, of course, enjoy”. Claudia (5 years old) replied, “We are using her work for that” pointing to her book on the drawing table. We will continue to ‘learn from and enjoy’ Bancroft’s art as provocation for learning more about her and other deadly women.
NAIDOC Week 2018 and it’s theme ‘Because of her I can’ has provided a basis for us to further study people, particularly women, who have shouted loud, taken chances and who have dared to be different.
Kirsty Piendl and Melanie Elderton.