Defining the Australian identity & culture

I had one of those lessons today (I am completing my Internship) where I know I did more than simply teach content.  I made an impact on student thinking, on how they view the world and how they might re-consider their world-view now.  These are the lessons when I KNOW that I LOVE teaching!  🙂

I am doing a very short unit (10 lessons) on International Business with Year 10 students.  I wanted to devote a whole lesson on Australian identity and culture so that they would have a good basis for comparisons when they start to research other countries.  I also thought it was important to discuss culture, identity, generalisations and stereotypes since we live in a globalised world and this particular school is visibly multicultural.  I have taught at this school 3 times now over the past 2 years and I commonly hear discriminatory, prejudiced language that when questioned about they commonly justify it as OK since “they’ve all agreed it’s OK”…..I wrote about this previously HERE.

The students worked in groups to create a Y-chart on Australian identity by brainstorming ideas.  Students had a lot to say and some students said they did not personally identify as Australian.  After 20 minutes I asked the groups to tell me one thing that they had written down in each section. Interestingly, I had noted while walking around and talking to students during the activity that many had written “White” in the “looks like” section; however, no group wanted to say this in the whole-class discussion.   My resulting, and messy, whole-class Y-chart on the board is an interesting mixed description.  The BEST part was that no one could agree and wanted to argue every point – exactly what I wanted to happen.  🙂  We talked about how identity and culture is difficult to define and how it is important to listen to people’s opinions & views. We talked about stereotypes and generalisations.  I asked the class how they think they might have felt looking at this chart if they were Indigenous Australian and one student told the class that he was Indigenous and that he did not relate to the chart at all.  I wish I had 2 hours for this activity!  At the end of the class I had many students wanting to talk to me about where they were born and whether they felt like an Australian etc.  I hope they continue to reflect on these ideas.



One comment on “Defining the Australian identity & culture

  1. […] students to work in groups to create a Y-chart on the Australian identity and then create a whole-class combined Y-chart on the whiteboard. Ask students questions like: do […]


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