Sharing Culture through Story

By Uhlmann, Lyn | Practically Primary, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Sharing Culture through Story

Uhlmann, Lyn, Practically Primary

AUSTRALIA is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Whether migrants come for the lifestyle, the opportunities, for work, or for some other reason, the fact is, they have been coming since 1788, and the mix of cultures in contemporary Australia is reflected in almost every school across the nation as children from every walk of life learn and play together.

One culture has remained constant throughout this more than 200-year history, however, and for millennia before it. It is Australia's first culture that of the Indigenous people of the mainland and island communities. It is the oldest-known surviving culture on the planet and is rich with legend, song, story and deep understanding of the natural world and its ways.

It is also a culture in which the people have not always been treated well, and embedded in the darker halls of Australian history are recordings of atrocities such as the stolen generation. Thankfully, the pendulums of reason have swung towards reconciliation and moving forward as one nation, and the Indigenous Australian culture has become increasingly embraced and celebrated in a vast range of forums across Australia, including schools, where many teachers are employing culturally inclusive classroom practices to help build a school environment that values cultural diversity and the sharing of culture.

Such teachers, by encouraging their students to engage with Indigenous Australian books in authentic and respectful ways, are helping the children, irrespective of their culture, to learn about Indigenous Australia, which is important learning for all children in Australian schools. With education about this culture comes understanding, and understanding offers the potential for kinder, more tolerant communities for everyone.

A further benefit of using Indigenous Australian texts in the classroom is that it may help decrease the literacy performance gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students--a gap that, statistically, continues to widen as students progress through their years of schooling. Indigenous students may arguably relate better to books from and about their own culture, possibly making them more attractive to read. Using Indigenous Australian books in the classroom also actively demonstrates to all students the value of diversity and, in particular, the importance of Indigenous Australia and its people.

Incorporating relevant texts in classroom work need not be a complicated affair, and can begin with picture books for the very young. These vary in content and style but they all shed light on Indigenous Australian culture. Some titles to consider are:

* The Old Frangipani Tree by Trina Saffioti, a descendant of the Gugu Yulangi people of North Queensland and illustrated by Maggie Prewett, a descendant of the Ngarluma people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. This brightly illustrated, delightful story tells, in authentic voice, of an Indigenous Australian girl's plight when she has nothing to wear to her school's annual fancy dress carnival. When the family pitches in to help, a subtle message about the importance of family in Indigenous Australian culture is delivered.


* Djomi Dream Child by Chris Fry of the Northern Territory his tribal group is Burarra and illustrated by Delphine Sarago-Kendrick, Queensland, a descendant of the Yidinji and Jirrbal people, offers a simple introduction to the Dreamtime. It tells about a dream child who floats downstream towards the coast of Maningrida in Arnhem Land. The story begins as the dream vision of an elderly man, then turns into the story of the girl in the dream realm, and then in the natural world after she is born.


* Tjarany: The Dreaming of the Roughtail Lizard and Other Stories is ideal for teaching and learning about Dreaming stories, Indigenous Australian art, and also for introducing one of the many Indigenous tongues of Australia, as the stories are written in both English and Kukatja--the language of the Balgo people of Western Australia.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Sharing Culture through Story


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.