DEC Scan Journal : Volume 33 Issue 4
2014 Volume 33, Issue 4 32 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews For English teachers, the benefits of these text sets are twofold: • they are a resource that assists in teaching the syllabus content • they also model how all of the general capabilities identified in the Australian curriculum can be integrated into existing teaching practice, rather than becoming the focus of whole units of work. What is culture? Intercultural understanding is one of the general capabilities described in the Australian Curriculum. It outlines that students learn to value their own cultures, values and beliefs, and those of others. The importance of such a skill to students entering an increasingly globalised and culturally interconnected world is clear. The difficult part is pinning down what culture looks like. It is, after all, not a static thing. Culture is the passing of tradition and value between generations, and is, by its nature, bound to change. Part of this difficulty with defining culture became clear when I began to write a sample text description for the project. One red shoe by Karin Gruss and Tobias Krejtschi is a picture book about a Western photo journalist living in an unidentified Middle Eastern city. He witnesses the hardship and frequent violence facing its citizens, and reflects on how relatively carefree life is in the first world. The obvious divide between ways of life is confronting, and the book carries important messages for young people about the role of journalism in documenting violent conflict and appreciating the fortunate circumstances of their lives. But it wasn’t clear if the text’s distressing image of civil unrest could be called a representation of culture. The idea of culture is often associated with celebration and tradition, not misfortune. The way of life described in One red shoe, however, has been the experience of more than one generation. It remains, for the moment, a daily reality for many people. From these hardships, values of unity and resilience have emerged. This doesn’t sound like powerful stories of the Dreamtime, and it hasn’t the colour and movement of Chinese New Year, but it is a part of culture. Intercultural understanding in English In the English classroom, intercultural understanding can be explored in both the response to and composition of text. This project focused on the ways that texts created by others might reflect their own culture, and how texts might challenge viewers to consider the values underpinning their own cultures. Writers in the project had to work hard Chinese New Year Parade, February 23, 2013 in Chinatown, San Francisco, California MariuszS.Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock.com to discern between observable and non- observable aspects of culture in the texts they chose. Observable aspects of culture might be the physical appearance of characters, their clothing and types of food they eat, but in order to truly generate an appreciation of cultures unlike our own, we sought texts that that also dealt with non-observable aspects of culture, such as social interactions, expectations and collective attitudes.
Volume 33 Issue 3
Volume 34 Issue 1