Tag Archives: Australian Literature

‘How Far We’ve Come’

23 Jul

I am a big fan of SBS interactives, and love using them in the classroom.

I’ve recently been exploring ‘How Far We’ve Come‘ and am keen to use it as the basis for an extension activity.  In particular, I want to offer students the opportunity to explore the experiences described in the interactive and then create a play script that offers a fictional re-imagining or extension of the life of the chosen individual.  This activity would require students to transfer and extend the knowledge gleaned through close study of a dramatic text.

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.

 

Distinctively Visual Related Texts

24 Jan

Below is a list of possible related material for the Standard English Module A elective ‘Distinctively Visual’.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (novel)
  2. And of Clay We Are Created‘ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  3. Approved For Adoption directed by Laurent Boileau & Jung Henin (film)
  4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (play)
  5. Because who is perfect?‘ (advertisement)
  6. Ernest and Celestine directed by Benjamin Renner (film)
  7. Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  8. ‘Home’ by Warsan Shire (poem)
  9. Lion directed by Garth Davis (film)
  10. Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport (picture book)
  11. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (novel)
  12. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (film or graphic novel)
  13. Scattered Lives by Sally McKenzie (play)
  14. Terrible Things by Eve Bunting (picture book)
  15. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  16. The Boat by Nam Le (adapted as an SBS interactive) (interactive graphic novel)
  17. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (picture book)
  18. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (novel)
  19. The Rabbits by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty directed by Ben Stiller (film)
  21. To This Day by Shane Koyczan (graphic novel or spoken word poem).

Hello Stranger

25 Oct

Hello Stranger is an ABC documentary series which seeks to meet a range of individuals and then follow one story home.

I recently watched the Hello Stranger episode entitled ‘Straight Outta Footscray‘ about Bangs, a rapper who hails from South Sudan and has achieved internet fame for a much derided song entitled ‘Take U to Da Movies’.  The episode allows responders to learn about Bangs, his hopes and his dreams.

I think I want to play the ‘Take U to Da Movies‘ clip to my students first, asking them to offer their thoughts about the clip and the man who stars in it.  Then, I want to show them the short documentary, asking them at the end if their perspectives have changed and why.

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)