Excursions are always difficult.
Payments, consent forms, chasing up students, cancellations, rescheduling, transport concerns, weather concerns: I had it all. Just before we left, I reached that point where I swore I’d never do it again.
And yet, as soon as we arrived at Warriparinga all of the strife was soon forgotten. The place is an oasis of calm, just metres from one of Adelaide’s busiest roads. It is home to the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, through whom I had arranged the excursion.
This is what I wrote for the school newsletter:
WARRIPARINGA WETLANDS EXCURSION
My Year 9 class and I were lucky to visit the Warriparinga Wetlands during Week 3. The site is home to the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, who arranged a tour for us, led by Jamie, a Kaurna and Narangga man.
Warriparinga is culturally important, as is marks the start of the Tjilbruke Dreaming trail. As Jamie led our class around the wetlands he shared the significance of the area, and described the many uses of the local flora and fauna. Students recorded their learning experiences:
“I learned about the many ways that plants were used. They could be used for medicine, food, weaving and many other things.”
“I learned how strong the connection with themselves and the land that they live on. They had learned all about the survival techniques that the plants could give them.”
“They are very connected to the land. And even though they were forced to participate in English customs, their traditions survived and are living on.”
At the end of the tour, Jamie graciously provided us with a lesson and a recital using the didgeridoo. It was a powerful and moving performance, which brought together our scientific and cultural learning.
The excursion formed the centrepiece of my “Communities and Ecosystems” unit for the Australian Curriculum, which forms part of the Biological Sciences strand.
Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU175).
This unit provides an ideal opportunity to bring in the Cross-curriculum Priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. If you click the previous link, you’ll see that this Priority is broken down into a number of Organising Ideas, covering Country,/Place, Culture and People. By introducing students the concept of Aboriginal Nations (see this map), discussing land management practices (eg firestick farming), going on the excursion and debriefing afterwards about what we learned, I was able to discuss many of these organising ideas with my class.
I would strongly recommend to all Yr 9 science teachers to infuse units on ecosystems with an discussion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Furthermore, if you are in the Southern Adelaide region, be sure to visit Warriparinga.