This lesson is an attempt at creating empathy for the Mothers who had their children forcibly removed. This lesson was originally designed for a Year 8 English Class but could also be adapted for other year levels and other Curriculum Areas, specifically History. It also covers Cross-curriculum priorities. This lesson has been tested and has worked extremely well. It can be quite emotionally challenging for the Teacher and the students.
Australian Curriculum Links:
Cross-Curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Histories and Cultures
- Australia has two distinct Indigenous groups, Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years and experiences can be viewed through historical, social and political lenses.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have sophisticated family and kinship structures.
Year 6 History: Australia as a Nation
- Experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of Aboriginal people and/or Torres Strait Islanders, migrants, women, and children. (ACHHK114)
Year 10 History: Depth Studies (Rights and Freedoms – 1945 through to present)
- Background to the struggle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for rights and freedoms before 1965, including the 1938 Day of Mourning and the Stolen Generations (ACDSEH104)
Year 8 English:
- Explore the interconnectedness of Country and Place, People, Identity and Culture in texts including those by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors (ACELT1806)
- Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)
- Experiment with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas to improve the effectiveness of students’ own texts (ACELY1810)
- Use a range of software, including word processing programs, to create, edit and publish texts imaginatively (ACELY1738)
- Recognise that vocabulary choices contribute to the specificity, abstraction and style of texts (ACELA1547)
- Students will have read Doris Pilkington’s “Rabbit Proof Fence” or viewed the film adaptation directed by Phillip Noyce.
- Wrap up ‘gifts’ ( anything at all: books, glue sticks, spoons, pens, anything at all) making sure that the sizes are varied and that there is one for every student in the class.
- Put each student’s name onto one of the ‘gifts’.
- Before the students arrive, place all of the ‘gifts’ onto a desk/table at the front of the room and cover them with a cloth.
- As you start the lesson, tell the students that because you have been really pleased with the work they have been doing etc . . . (talk it up!) You have decided to get each of them a present.
- Uncover the ‘gifts’.
- A few at a time, students can come out and look/check to see if there is one there with their name on it.
- They can only look, they must not touch!
- Tell them that in order to avoid distractions throughout the lesson, they’ll be receiving their ‘gifts’ at the end of the lesson.
- Have as normal a lesson as you can, doing something/anything unrelated to The Stolen Generations, leaving about 15-20 minutes for the next part of the ‘gifting’ process.
- Now tell them (they may take some convincing) that you’ve decided not to give them the gifts. Cover the gifts up. Ask the students to write down how they feel about this decision!
- Explain to them:
- These ‘gifts’ were never really theirs.
- Before this lesson, they didn’t even know that their ‘gift’ existed.
- They don’t even know what’s inside the package with their name on it.
- Yet when they were told that they were not going to receive it, they felt all of these horrible feelings.
- Get some students to share what they wrote . . . angry, sad, betrayed, furious etc.
- Remind them now about “The Stolen Generations”.
- The students felt angry, sad, betrayed etc when something that wasn’t even really theirs in the first place was taken away. Something they’d only known about for about half an hour, something that they hadn’t even really seen let alone touched.
- Now think, reflect, make posters, write: letters; poems; stories etc about this question:
“Can we ever possibly imagine or understand the absolute despair that Mothers must have felt when their children were taken away?”
- Class discussion about what the students have learnt from this learning experience.
- Anecdotal notes of students’ participation in discussion.
- Students’ work is displayed on a “Sorry Wall” created in the classroom where students’ work is displayed.
- Wrapping paper
- Name tags
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