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Winangali inspires Year 4

As part of their latest PYP unit of inquiry, Year 4 attended Winangali, a hands-on and thought-providing Indigenous Australian workshop at the Museum of Contemporary Art.


As part of their latest unit of inquiry, Where We Are in Place and Time, Year 4 are pursuing the central idea: Actions of the past and present have consequences for the future. It’s made them reflect deeply on Australia’s history of colonisation and how it continues to impact on First Peoples.


As part of their research, Year 4 have been exploring several lines of inquiry including: Life has changed for Indigenous Australians over time. Last week, Year 4 headed off to the MCA, along with Junior School Art Teacher, Ms Lewington, their teachers Ms Monk and Ms Gordon, Deputy Head of Junior School, Mrs Collier, and Teaching Assistants, Ms Butler-Nixon and Mrs Rowe to explore the richness of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.


The Winangali program – ‘Winangali’ means ‘to hear, to know’ in the language of the Gadigal people, the traditional owners of the land and waters that the MCA is situated upon – introduced our students to contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The workshop gave them an opportunity to explore the ideas and concepts that inspired each artwork and encouraged them to form their own personal connections to it. Year 4 were fascinated to learn that, as there is no written language for Australian Aboriginal People, symbols and icons are used to convey stories of cultural significance and importance, such as knowledge of the land, events and beliefs. It was a great way of bringing the world’s oldest living continuous culture to a primary school audience and celebrating the passage of knowledge from one generation to the next through art.


On returning to Wenona, Year 4 took the opportunity to reflect on what had inspired them at the workshop. In discussing the artworks that had emotionally resonated with them, it prompted Year 4 to think more critically about the effect of colonisation on Indigenous Australians and to better understand its ongoing trauma, context, history and impacts.


Next week, Year 4 will be visiting the State Library and will participate in a walking tour of The Rocks, which serve to further their knowledge and understanding of colonisation. This will help them to gain a more critical insight into all sides of the narrative, from the arrival of the First Fleet, to the life of the convicts, to the impact this had on Australia’s First Peoples.

Reconciliation is not an easy or straight-forward process; it will require fresh ideas to bring about positive change. At the end of the unit, Year 4 will have an opportunity to take some form of action towards reconciliation. It will be up to them how they express their ideas, whether its through the creation of their own artwork inspired by what they have learned and viewed at the MCA.

Watch this space!