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Nidja Noongar Boodjar Noonook Nyininy

Contextualised learning

The product | Background


The product

Nidja Noongar Boodjar Noonook Nyininy is a very substantial and insightfully-designed package of materials for primary teachers and students, although secondary teachers have found it adaptable to their needs.

It embeds the development of literacy and numeracy skills in the culture, stories and language of the Noongar people of south-west Western Australia. As well as drawing on their rich cultural heritage, it has a strong contemporary focus.


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It comes in a large plastic box with wheels, and consists of

  • a Teacher's Resource Manual;
  • a Noongar Dictionary;
  • six sets of books and games — each set includes one large teacher's book and four small books;
  • four sets of small books;
  • maps;
  • art poster sets;
  • Picture card sets;
  • the 'Elders' set — posters and plays; and
  • a study tour of the south-west of Western Australia.

Availability:
Enquiries can be directed to the Aboriginal Studies Consultant,
Catholic Education Office of WA,
50 Ruislip St, Leederville
WA 6007.
Phone: 08 9212 9241.
E-mail: ss@ceowa.perth.catholic.edu.au.


Background

Richard Win Pe, CEO Aboriginal Studies Consultant, contributes the following article.

Until recently, there has been very little recognition of Noongar lifestyle and language both within the educational system and the broader community. That is one of the reasons why the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia recognised the need for a renewal of the richness and complexity of the Noongar people, their language and cultural life, which was slowly fading away.


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Richard Win Pe

Current material relating to Aboriginal Studies needs to include some local Noongar language and history in order to

  • motivate the children to improve their literacy and numeracy skills;
  • raise awareness and understanding of the Noongar culture; and
  • integrate it into the school's Aboriginal Studies program.

Murdoch University was commissioned to develop, in consultation with the Aboriginal community, a resource package that would provide both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students of the south-west with quality educational materials to assist with the development of their literacy and numeracy skills. It is also anticipated the use of these materials in the classrooms will significantly improve the attendance rate of Noongar students.

The package draws together a range of teaching materials and resources about the Noongar people whose traditional territory encompassed the area of Western Australia that now contains 80% of the state's population.

The extensive development of this package involved

  • Unfolding culturally appropriate materials that would encourage and promote increased literacy and numeracy levels in all children throughout the Noongar country of Western Australia;.
  • Providing providing resources with a Noongar country focus for use in Catholic primary and secondary schools involved in Aboriginal Studies;
  • Providing providing resources which would promote contemporary Aboriginal culture and history as it exists in the south-west of Western Australia;
  • Introducing introducing innovative teaching strategies for use with Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal students, through developing a user-friendly teaching strategies resource package; and
  • developing a training package to inservice teachers that outlines practical strategies for working with Aboriginal students, particularly with a south-west focus.

The comprehensive package consists of

  • Reading reading materials and games aimed at increasing the literacy and numeracy levels of Aboriginal students in south-west Western Australia;
  • Relevant resources that would promote an understanding of traditional and contemporary societies in south-west Western Australia;
  • Relevant relevant teaching strategies appropriate to Aboriginal student learning;
  • A training package with a Noongar country focus for inservicing teachers working with Aboriginal students; and
  • An implementation strategy.

An example of what is contained in the package is the Small Book Set featuring four Noongar children from St Joseph's School, Moora. This set focuses on the diversity of Noongar life and experiences. The children tell about their family, favourite pastimes and their family activities. Photographs of the children and their families are used to illustrate each book. Readers are encouraged to consider each of these stories relative to their own so that the shared differences and similarities are emphasised. A set of literacy and numeracy activities is then outlined in which explicit links are made to English and Mathematics Learning Outcomes. Additional information is provided for teachers who may wish to establish links across other learning areas.

By contextualising learning, the Catholic Education Office believes Noongar students in the south-west of Western Australia will discover that education is meaningful and relevant to their own life. Through Nidja Noongar Boodja Noonook Nyininy, it is anticipated that through the fostering of a positive attitude to learning, the literacy and numeracy skills of Noongar students will increase, along with their participation in classroom activities and attendance patterns.

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