We Are Australian: Activity 4: Australian traditions and diversity

The influence of family traditions

Explore with the class the influences of family traditions on our personal identity. How do our family experiences develop our own values, beliefs and identity?

Read the text 'My Girrangundji' on pages 28 - 29 of the Australian Readers aloud as a class. Use the section of the Teacher Guide to develop an exploration of the text.

Focus questions

  • What does this story say about the boy's relationship with the land?
  • How do these activities develop the boy's values and traditions?
  • How are the events and activities in this story important to the Australian identity of this boy?

Ask students to write a short story that retells an experience they have had in their life where they participated in a family tradition (eg a cultural celebration, event). Have them include in this story why the experience was important to their family, what feelings they experienced and what values and beliefs they learnt from it. Have them share these stories with each other or compile them into a class book for others to read.

Read the text 'Australians Don't Have Goats' on pages 30 - 31 of the Australian Readers. Have the students re-enact the scene and use this drama activity to explore the text.

Focus questions

  • Why do you think Georgia is so keen to be seen as an 'Australian'?
  • What cultural activities do you see evidence of in the story? (eg music, language, names)
  • Why would they consider changing their cultural practices and beliefs if they went to live in another country? If so, which ones?

Researching family traditions

Ask students to question their parents or grandparents about family traditions that have been kept and ones that may have been changed or lost.

  • Which traditions have they kept and why?
  • Which traditions have been lost or changed ?
  • How have traditions and customs been 'lost'? How have they been 'kept'?

Students record these responses so that they can be shared with others in the class, eg as written oral histories or as a taped recording. Alternatively, they could arrange for their parent or grandparent to visit the class. Students then write down the speaker's responses to the above questions.

Students share these responses in small groups. Ask each group to summarise some of the main points that were described in these histories or talks. Possible group summary activities could include a report, a poster or a shared reading of favourite parts of each person's report or arranged talk. Each group reports this summary to the whole class.

Personal response

Ask students to reflect upon the discussion and thoughts they have had during the previous activities in order to provide a personal response to one of the following questions:

  • How can people who have different interests, customs, language and activities belong to a single nation?
  • What are the essential things people need to share to belong together as a nation?
  • How can diversity in our nation bring us strength and not disharmony?
  • What differences are good to celebrate and retain?
  • What can we do to ensure that new immigrants to this nation can feel part of our national identity? (eg citizenship education, ceremonies)

Summative discussion

Discuss with the class the difficulties of the tension between being different yet wanting to belong.

Introduction | Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4 | Activity 5