Over the next few weeks, students will learn about the settlement of Melbourne and consider the impact of Europeans on the Koori people. The Huddle’s program “Early Melbourne” focuses on events in the early 1800’s, through the lives of three characters: William Barak, William Buckley and John Batman. Learning about this significant event, enables students to consider indigenous Australia, intercultural understanding and events that form the basis of our existence in modern-day Melbourne. This is pivotal to reconciliation, knowing the place we live in and building our community by understanding our place within it.
The program begins with a pre-learning activity I call “Graffiti the Treaty” where students write titles, captions, thought bubbles and speech bubbles on a painting of white settlers (John Batman) making a treaty with Koori leaders in 1835. This is done on our Samsung Slates, using its stylus and a digital image of the painting.
They go on to learn about the lives of Barak, Batman and Buckley by viewing images and texts from the 1800’s – for example, a transcript of a treaty, paintings of the natural environment and early settlement, photographs of indigenous people at Flagstaff and paintings by William Barak. They also view video commentary on the significance of these that are sourced from Victoria’s key cultural institutions available through Culture Victoria http://www.cv.vic.gov.au and browse the National Museum of Australia’s interactive resource Batmania http://www.nma.gov.au/interactives/batmania/shell.html
Discussion, being an important part of learning at The Huddle, enables students to question the meanings behind images, facts and events, to uncover the interaction during settlement and express their own views on what happened in Victoria and the situation that indigenous people found themselves in. Through images and discussion, students who are less familiar with Australia because they have only lived here for a short time, are also able to examine the origins of Melbourne and express their views on it. Students rotate through learning stations to examine pictures, maps and artifacts relating to the content so they can recycle language and grasp concepts through discussion with their peers. They learn new words in Koori languages and identify how central Melbourne, the docks, bay and Yarra have changed over the past 200 years.
At the end of the program, I will ask students to discuss whether the exchange of items such as axes, mirrors, flour, blankets and scissors was a fair exchange for 500,000 acres of land and how the exchange and settlement could have happened differently. The students will also make “freeze frames”, shot on Samsung Slates, depicting scenes from the extraordinary life of William Buckley – the escapee who lived with the indigenous people around Port Phillip Bay for 32 years prior to the arrival of Batman and Faulkner.