Tag Archives: Australia

Dramatising One’s Own Story

13 Jul

As part of an upcoming drama study, I am keen for students to demonstrate knowledge of the dramatic conventions set for study by creating an additional act for Sally Mackenzie’s Scattered Lives in which they document a migrant experience drawn from their own family history.

To glean relevant information students will be set the task of interviewing parents or grandparents, thus building cross-generational connections.

Additionally, students will have to storyboard the experiences, and then put themselves in the position of director to decide how to best and most powerfully stage the experiences.

I think it would also be interesting to have students type, edit and refine their work so that it can be collated as a second edition of Scattered Lives that, perhaps, could even be displayed in the library or made available as an e-book for students to share with their families.

Advertisements

Dramatising Australian Stories

12 Jul

I am hoping to study Sally Mackenzie’s Scattered Lives with one of my junior classes next term.  Her play explores a range of migrant experiences.

As part of this unit I also want to show my students Africa to Australia, an interactive website exploring the experiences of African Australians.   I want my students to select one of the stories presented and re-imagine it as an additional act in Scattered Lives.  Through this activity, students will be able to broaden their understanding of the Australian experience while also demonstrating their knowledge of dramatic conventions.

Multicultural and Polyvocal Society

10 Jul

We have been studying the ways in which poetry expresses Australian voices.  Through our study we have moved from voices who seek to speak for all of Australia, to contemporary examples of marginalised voices.  Inherent in this shift has been a recognition that an increasingly multicultural society is also a polyvocal society.

What happens then when students are asked to listen to a speech in which a contemporary figure seeks to speak on behalf of the nation?  Some students start thinking about the pieces of the ‘Australian narrative’ that are missing, wondering why the speaker has glossed over them.  Others wonder whether the glaring omissions matter; after all, this speaker is really one of many voices that are woven together to express our identity.  A final group wonders why a contemporary figure has more in common with Paterson who, in the late 1800s, was a vocal contributor to the view that the epicentre of Australian identity is the outback, than with the advocates who proliferate the contemporary poetic landscape.

It was really exciting to see students engaging with this level of depth and insight!

Voices

1 Jul

My year 9 students are finishing a unit about Australian voices.  We have, as part of this unit, discussed the myriad voices that shape and construct Australian identity.  I recently read an article about Candy Royalle, a spoken word poet, who recently passed away.  The following section of the article stood out to me:

“‘I think this is the most powerful thing about poetry,’ she said. ‘Everyone has a voice, and yet not all those voices have an avenue or a platform. Poetry is a tool to give those voices power, a place to channel trauma (and joy), a platform to be heard in a world that is often deaf to marginalised voices – those voices we actually need to hear most from.'”

I think this sentiment is one that my year 9 students did not quite understand.  When discussing the shifting landscape of Australian identity we need to appreciate that the ability to access/hear varied Australian voices is significant.  Indeed, the voices that speak to us today are not those who would have been publicised or given a platform 100 years ago.  The more voices we hear, the more able we are to accurately map who we are as a people and what we value.

Mapping Australian Poetry

7 Apr

I am in the process of putting together a unit of work that explores changes in the Australian voice over time.  This unit will require students to explore key examples of Australian poetry and to understand how these poems are shaped by social, political and cultural contexts.

I think it will be helpful for my students to have an understanding of Australian history (in broad and general terms).  As such, I want to show them this interactive timeline.  Hopefully students can use this as a reference point, along with specific information about the poets whose work we study, to develop their capacity to discuss the contextual frameworks that inspire and inform texts.

‘Becoming Kirrali Lewis’

7 Aug

I have also recently read Becoming Kirrali Lewis.  I read this text, hoping to discover a great Australian text that I could use in Year 9 instead of Deadly, Unna? which is not universally adored by students.

The text explores the experiences of Kirrali Lewis, an Aboriginal girl adopted into a white family, and her experiences during her first year of law school in the city.  The raised a number of important issues about identity, conflict and relationships which I think would interest some students.  However, the scope of experiences and short length of the book meant that these issues were, at times, left unexplored or not fully developed.

While I’m not sure my current Year 9 class would love this book, it is nonetheless something I would be interested in teaching.  With this in mind, I think it would be well placed as part of a textual pairing, perhaps with Taika Waititi’s film Boy.  Both texts explore the complexities of family relationships and the impact absent and found parents have on identity.

Familiar environments

30 Jan

Alice Eather’s poem ‘My Story Is Your Story‘ is a powerful poem about the different ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous people view Aboriginal land.  Through a series of haunting contrasts Eather is able to communicate the tension between connection to land and destruction for profit.

This would be an interesting text to study as part of a unit about Australian identity as it highlights the fundamental disconnect between viewpoints and, in turn, flags the callous disregard corporations can have for established and entrenched cultural connections.

It would also be an interesting text to study in AOS Discovery for HSC.  Considered alongside The Tempest, for example, it could be used to highlight how perspectives shape discovery.  Considered alongside Go Back to Where You Came From, it could be used to enrich a discussion regarding discovery, Australian identity, racism and responsibility.

The text could also be used as part of a junior AOS with a focus on change, belonging or journeys.  Here, focus would need to be on the role of context in shaping representation and value.

Eather’s poem could also be studied alongside, or as part of a suite of poetry which includes, Selina Nwulu’s ‘Home is a Hostile Lover‘. Together, the poems offer interesting representations of connection to place and the role of corporations in threatening the physicality and sacredness of place.

 

AOS Journeys

8 Jul

A number of schools are looking to revitalise their Year 10 and Year 11 courses by introducing Areas of Studies that better prepare their students for AOS Discovery in Year 12.  A popular choice seems to be AOS Journeys.  With this in mind, I have compiled a list of texts which could be used as related material for a unit with ‘Journeys’ as the conceptual focus.  The list is not arranged in any particular order, and I will continue adding to it over time.

  1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (novel)
  2. The Ultimate Safari by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
  3. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (novel)
  4. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen (biography)
  5. ‘I am an African’ by Thabo Mbeki (speech)
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel)
  7. ‘I Have a Dream’ by Martin Luther King Jnr (speech)
  8. ‘The Manhunt’ by Simon Armitage (poem)
  9. ‘Refugee Blues’ by W.H. Auden (poem)
  10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (autobiography)
  11. ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou (poem)
  12. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel) (or the film adaptation)
  13. September, directed by Peter Carstairs (film)
  14. Selected The Gods of Wheat Street episodes (television drama)
  15. The Secret Life of Walter Mittydirected by Ben Stiller (film)
  16. Cartography for Beginners‘ by Emily Hasler (poem)
  17. ‘Journey to the Interior’ by Margaret Atwood (poem)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (novel)
  19. ‘And of Clay We Are Created’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  20. Cool Runnings, directed by Jon Turteltaub (film)
  21. For Colored Girls, directed by Tyler Perry (film)
  22. The Second Bakery Attack‘ by Haruki Murakami (short story)
  23. Americannah by Chimmamanda Ngozi Adichie (novel)
  24. All That I Am by Anna Funder (novel)
  25. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (novel) (or the film aedaptation)
  26. Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata (film)
  27. A Mighty Heart, directed by Michael Winterbottom (film)
  28. Girl Rising, directed by Richard E. Robbins (film)
  29. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (play)
  30. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (play)
  31. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (novel)
  32. Anzac Girls (television series)
  33. Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis (novel)
  34. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
  35. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (novel)
  36. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (novel)
  37. Meet the Patels, directed by Ravi and Geeta Patel (film)
  38. Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen (film)
  39. The Testimony, directed by Vanessa Block (documentary)
  40. The Lie‘ by T. Coraghessan Boyle (short story)
  41. Lion, directed by Garth Davis (film)
  42. A Sheltered Woman‘ by Yiyun Li (short story)
  43. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (novel)
  44. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (memoir)
  45. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
  46. ‘Home’ by Warsan Shire (poem)
  47. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (film or graphic novel)
  48. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (novel)
  49. Freedom Writers, directed by Richard LaGravenese (film)
  50. The African Doctor, directed by Julien Rambaldi (film)

Life as a refugee

27 May

I was hoping to run a unit this year in which students would explore the voices of migrants.  Unfortunately, the constraints of the program and the realities of my classes meant this was not possible.

One poem that I would have studied as part of this unit was Abe Nouk’s ‘The Stigma of Having Lived as a Refugee‘.  In this poem, Nouk recounts his own experiences living as a refugee and coming to Australia.  He also ends with a plea for Australia to do more to help people who, like him and his family, fled difficult and dangerous realities.

Another poem by Nouk that is worthy of inclusion is ‘Story of  Refugee‘.  In this poem, he reflects on the role of writing in helping him to articulate his experiences, his identity and his perspectives.

If studied as part of a unit with an Australian focus, this text could be studied alongside other refugee poets.  If studied as part of a unit with a global focus, Nouk’s poem would be interesting to study alongside Warsan Shire’s ‘Home’ and Selina Nwulu’s ‘Before’.

The sounds, sights and emotions of war

18 May

I am on a mission to help my junior students to engage with key poetic techniques and truly understand the effect of such techniques.  With this goal in mind, I recently ran an activity in which students were given a selection of neutrally worded scenarios pertaining to war and had to work in groups to come up with a list of similes, metaphors, examples of personification and onomatopoeic statements which enlivened the scenarios.

After reviewing the definitions of these techniques and identifying two examples of each as a class, students worked together to create their own lists.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Students made reference to a wall which reached out to support the weight of a grieving widow, fighter jets that howled like wolves deprived of meat, and mud which sought to suck the life from the soles of soldiers’ shoes.  As these examples were shared with the class we discussed why each was effective.