Australian Children’s Literature: A challenge to Consumers

Australian Children’s Literature: A challenge to Consumers

Synopsis:

According to Mundine & Giugni (2006), Australia, having been colonised by the British colonial powers up to the late 1800s, children were regarded as British and, thus, expected to read the children’s books of Britain. Henceforth, the writings started to explore experiences that came with being an Australian.  For quite a very long time from then, most of the literature was based on its own culture: Most of the Australian writers of this period basically used Australian characters, both humans and animals. Writers even tried thick and thin to see to it that they created a sense of being in the right place whilst in the new, strange and un-European landscape: Australia, also known as the bush, by ensuring that imported stories were worked to fit into the Australian context (Dau, 2001). There, thus, has constantly existed the social misfit, racial segregation, and a lot of biasness in the systems. An example of these earliest writings was ‘A Mother’s Offering to Her Children’, by charlotte Barton (1841), whose purpose was to instruct the children’. Ethel turner’s, ‘Seven Little Australians’, a story set in the 1880s on a sheep station within Sydney, is another example. He uses Australian young pranksters, the Woollcott children living with their disciplinary father called Captain Woollcott, and a relatively young step mother called Esther, whose instructions the children never listened to. In this book, Ethel brings out a character of being naughty, optimistic and youthful as being a character of Australians. Norman Lindsay, also, in his book titled, ‘Magic Pudding’ presents his characters who he considers Australian as being friendly, good-natured and humorous lawbreakers. He insists that children should rather read books about food and fighting than about fairies. The children were, thus, not made to interact with the outside world, the neighbouring countries, and, even with Asia, of which Australia is part. There was an assumption of non-existence of a multicultural society, which, in the real essence existed. The question, then, that rings into our minds is that: Do we not have a responsibility to ensure justice amidst our families starting from the young generation, the children? A man is made of what he eats, so are children’s character made of what they see, hear or read. Due to all the aforementioned whys and wherefores, the relationship between Asia and Australia has for a long time been a focal point that has constantly raised a heated debate. In the analysis of this connexion, a study of the manner in which children’s literature has impacted on attitudes to Australia in the past, the present, and future as well is carried out. Several books play a very tremendous role in the fostering and orientation of this relationship. Presently, there even is a project on the same at Queensland University which is underway. With regards to the same, this paper tries to investigate the various realms in which these glitches which have sprung up as a consequence of racism can be solved. It is against this backdrop that this study tries to investigate the possible measures of mitigation that can assist curb such complications. Some of the solutions put forward are as outlined below.

Summary of the mitigation measures

  • Involvement of parents: It is a clear fact that parents play a key role in the engagement of the young Australians to feel a sense of belonging to Asia, as they are constantly involved in the discussion of school matters such as career choices, courses and even subjects with their children. It is through their efforts that the children can be encouraged to be involved in the participation in the broad and varied range of educational activities including cultural events. Through the parents bodies formed in schools, the school leadership is therefore influenced, to a great extent, by the parents. These include even the planning and decision making within the system, (Owen & Andrew, 2003).
  • Teacher training: The teachers training should try to incorporate the offering programmes that train the new teachers with regards to teachings of Asia and Australia. This could be achieved through the inclusion of course contents concerning the modern and primeval Asian cultures, societies and milieus. In addition, It can be reached through the development of learning and teaching approaches in relation to Asian and Australian studies. This could be accomplished by crafting more prospects for the learning and engaging with the Asian culture as well as languages for the teachers in the course of their training. It also assists them to develop the necessary aptitudes which, eventually, can facilitate their achievement of a mutual relationship with their students as well as their families, (Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 1999).
  • The curriculum: Consistent with Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (1999), through the provision of the top quality resources, alongside the opportunities of professional learning, enables the reinforcement of each other by the various strategies. It also helps by ensuring the capacity and commitment of the teachers. For the achievement of this, there is the need to give assistance to the teachers. This entails the acquisition of respectful information about the people of Asia, their lifestyles, as well as events and issues. Similarly, the illustration of exemplary practices of classroom in such an area and the availing of such information on a range of media may be helpful. This can also be achieved through the increase in the number of schools that are engaged in the well planned and possible-to-identify Asia-Australian studies, close and strict monitoring of the engagement of students in the learning of an Asian language, and the publication and acknowledgement of schools exhibited by exemplary educational programmes involving the study of Asia and Australia.
  • The inclusion of the studies of Asia and Australia in the curriculum has been achieved through: the establishment of partnerships within the territorial Educational Departments between each state. In the establishment of such partnerships, the key stakeholders involved include groups of parents, governmental departments, philanthropic and the business sector, as well as the association of professional teachers, (Barnes, 2001).

Conclusion:

To sum it up, the children’s literature has greatly affected the ideologies of the children of the Australia, and their perception of the rest of Asia. This is evidenced by the racial issues that come with them, and, moulds them into the adults, characterised by racism. The aforesaid strategies actually work together to help foster a relationship between Australia and the rest of Asia, this is in line with respect to the varied cultures exhibited by such other countries. Something worth noting is a fact that, not until a curriculum that tries to link them to the multicultural system is inculcated into the system of their education, these aforementioned snags are bound to stay perpetually.

References

Barnes, S. (2001): Festivals, holidays and community celebrations. In E. Dau. (Ed.) The Anti-Bias approach in Early Childhood (2nd Edition) pp159-167, Sydney: Addison Wesley Longman

Dau, E. (Ed.) (2001): The Anti-Bias approach in Early Childhood (2nd Edition). Sydney: Addison Wesley Longman.

Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (1999) The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century, Canberra.

Owen J & Andrew P (2003) Curriculum Outcomes in Access Asia Schools, Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra.

Mundine, K. & Giugni, M. (2006). Diversity and Difference: Lighting the Spirit of Identity Research In Practice Series. Early Childhood Australia V 13 (3)

ACED ESSAYS