Library stocktake sparks new Reconciliation initiatives
A routine library stocktake was the spark for St Paul’s School at Bald Hills to take a deeper dive into the way its community engages First Nations’ perspectives
A routine library stocktake was the spark for St Paul’s School at Bald Hills to take a deeper dive into the way its community engages First Nations’ perspectives.
St Paul’s has already implemented a Reconciliation Action Plan and uses an Acknowledgement of Country that was written for the school by the land’s traditional owners.
St Paul’s also has a “Tuckeroo Bush Garden” that provides students with knowledge about “Aboriginal science…grounded in observation and a deep understanding of connectivity and complex ecological interdependencies”.
This constant engagement with First Nations matters at St Paul’s prompted Junior School Teacher-Librarian Janelle Hamling to ask for expert help when she approached the stocktake of her library resources.
The stocktake, held every three years, ensures library resources are still appropriate for students.
Are the books in good physical condition? Are they still factually correct (for example, if Pluto is described as an official planet in our solar system, that book may need updating)? And, how often have books been borrowed by students in the previous three years? Ms Hamling wanted to add another very important focus – are the books culturally appropriate for students?
St Paul’s put the call out to First Nations families in the school with expertise to help, and they received two important offers of assistance.
One First Nations family took home books and provided their perspective on what was culturally appropriate. Their insights were really valuable.
And, St Paul’s was approached by parent Alison Quin, a Senior Curriculum and Learning Advisor at QUT and a descendent of the Tagalak people of the Gulf Country of Far North Queensland.
With Ms Quin’s expertise, the library stocktake evolved from a check of resources to a platform to help teachers and those studying teaching at university to better understand First Nations resources.
Ms Quin ran a masterclass in evaluating First Nations resources for St Paul’s teachers and pre-service teachers from QUT.
Ms Hamling said that the masterclass involved discussions about language use, pedagogy and book classifications.
“This was such a valuable exercise because there were so many important questions asked and discussions had,” Ms Hamling said.
“St Paul’s seeks to grow a culture of friendship and partnership between St Paul’s School and First Nations peoples, organisations and communities, so this was another important step in that aim.
“The Masterclass discussed how we make sure that all of the materials we use are culturally appropriate. We had some very good discussions about language use.
“And we also covered questions that were very valuable and that made people think in new ways – for instance, should writings on the Dreaming be placed in fiction or non-fiction sections of the library? These are important questions.”
The Junior School library stocktake continues at St Paul’s, strengthened by the advice from the Masterclass.
First Nations Year 11student Taneasha Pollard said that the school’s intentional approach to Reconciliation helps to ensure that First Nations students are appropriately respected.
“Our School has come a long way in terms of Reconciliation with First Nations peoples.
“We have an Acknowledgement of Country that is written by the land’s Traditional Owners, especially for our school and this is part of a broader Reconciliation Action Plan.
“These initiatives, as well as the broader culture of the school, help me feel respected and included as a First Nations person.”
School Cultural Captain Grace Martin welcomed the school’s approach to engaging with First Nations’ perspectives.
“As one of the School’s Cultural Captains, I feel it’s important to cultivate a culture of inclusivity and respect for all students at our school,” Miss Martin said.
“We want all our students to walk in a spirit of Reconciliation…spaces like our library leading the conversation on how to better reflect First Nations’ perspectives are a huge help.”Jump to next article