Good Reading : July 2011
GOOD READING JULY 2011 44 BOOK BITE YOUNGER READERS Playing ... listening ... learning ... helping ... sharing ... having fun ... showing respect ... caring for country ... These are some of the things that the children of this land have been doing for thousands upon thousands of years. In traditional time, kids didn't have to set off from home in the morning in order to go to school. The whole country was a vast outdoor classroom, which contained everything that the First Children needed to know. The land was also their playground. As kids jour neyed with their families from place to place, it was often impossible to tell the difference between playing and learning. School was home, and home was the traditional country where the family had been living since the Law began. The teachers were parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers. The whole community took on the responsibility for the education of a child. When large groups of people met together, kids learned new lessons through watching the ceremonies that enacted the stories about the ancestral beings who had set down the rules for how people should behave towards each other and the land. Just as there was Law for every aspect of adult life, so children had their own Law, which was passed down from generation to generation.While this set out the rules of the games that they played and the words of their songs and stories, the Law also said that big kids had to look after little kids and show them what to do. Because children cared for each other and knew their own country, they could be given a great deal of freedom to go off and play, without adult supervision. In the bush, there were trees to climb and creeks to swim in.There was great cover for games of hide-and-seek, and plenty of open space for ball games. Cubbies were built at every campsite, and kids lit their own small fires if they wanted to cook themselves a snack. When the family moved on to a new home, the toys went back into the playground, to be ready for the next visit. Since European people have come to Australia, Aboriginal children have taken on some new ways of getting an education and having fun.Yet whether they live on a remote outstation or in a busy city, they continue a way of learning that comes from observing and copying, helping and sharing, and listening to the stories of country which their families have been telling since the old days. Playground: Listening to stories from country and from inside the heart compiled by Nadia Wheatley The contributors to this compilation of Indigenous stories include 20 secondary students, who share their experiences of growing up in today’s world, and 80 Elders, who are prominent community leaders, educators or artists. The book provides a fascinating insight into the varying experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from 1900 to the present day. A great resource for the classroom, library or home. For ages 10 to 16 and onwards.