Wheatley history workshop breaks new ground

26 June 2014

Award-winning author and Honorary Associate of the University Nadia Wheatley, presented "From My Place to Australians All" a popular, groundbreaking workshop for primary-school teachers on June 13.

Teachers from across NSW attended the workshop, which introduced them to a new perspective on Australian history: one that has the traditional owners' concept of "country" at its centre and uses story as its mode of expression.

Nadia Wheatley graduated from the University of Sydney in 1970 with an honours degree in history. She was awarded a master's degree from Macquarie University in 1975. In 2014 she was awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Sydney in recognition of her achievements.

For three decades, Wheatley has published award-winning books for children and young adults in a variety of genres and, this year, was nominated by the International Board on Books for Young People Australia for the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, the highest international recognition for a living author whose body of work has made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

Designed especially for teachers of Stages 2 and 3, Wheatley's workshop was an engaging and holistic, cross-curricular professional learning day that met a range of standards across KLAs including (but not limited to) English, history, geography and the creative arts.

Practical activities in the workshop included making circle stories (based on an Indigenous model of education) and coolamons (pictured), and writing short poems with a bush theme. These individual and collaborative activities can, in turn, be used by teachers in the classroom.

Workshop participants were glowing in their assessment of the day's experiences. A selection of comments appears below.

  • "Nadia gave an in-depth and structured talk. Practical elements such as 'question time' and 'hands on activities' allowed us to connect with the books and understand the importance of Aboriginal understanding."

  • "The hands-on learning experience developing the storyboard, was a great way for students to individualise learning and make connections."

  • "The story circles are going to make a fantastic platform for creating a class book that reflects our understanding of self, country and history."

  • "Nadia explained how to incorporate all of my expectations into my teaching. Instruction was fast paced, interesting, mixture of practical work and some instruction. She taught with quality teaching in mind, and used narrative, background knowledge and our own stories to enhance the techniques she introduced to us."

The "From My Place to Australians All" workshop is registered with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards for five hours of professional development at the level of Proficient Teacher. This course addresses Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 1.3.2, 1.4.2, 2.4.2, 3.4.2 & 5.2.2.

More workshop dates for 2015 are being organised. Further details will be published on the website.