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Student handout 5: The Land Is My Backbone

Exploring the texts

1. In the extract on p 18 Galarrwuy Yunupingu describes the land as his 'backbone'. What do you think of when you hear the word backbone? Explain in your own words what Yunupingu is saying about the role of the land in his life?

2. In ‘My Country’ what makes Nonda special for Heather Brown?

3. Brown says her grandfather was 'searching for a place where the sky dipped into his boots.' (p 19). What do you think he meant by this?

4. Julia Britton presents us with a different landscape that has shaped her identity – an urban landscape. Why does she spend so much time in her poem telling us what her life was not like? What words would you use to describe her family and her life in the city?

5. How do you think of the Australian landscape?

  • Think of as many metaphors as you can to illustrate this understanding. (Remember a metaphor describes one thing in terms of another: The land is my backbone.)
  • You might also choose to represent your metaphors visually.

6. In what ways can our relationships to place or land be a ‘value’ – something that guides out behaviour, to do the right thing?

Working beyond the texts

7. On a large piece of poster paper draw a map in outline of the Australian continent. Fill your empty Australia with images of how you would like Australia to be (these images can be drawn, selected from the web or cut out of magazines). Label your images as shown (click image top right).

Now do the same activity again, this time filling your map with images (and labelling them) of what Australia is like in reality.

  • Display your two collages, along with those of your classmates, on a board in your room.
  • Look carefully at all the collages.
  • As a class discuss: How different are each of the pairs of collages? What needs to happen to bring the real Australia closer to the ideal Australia? What values are expressed in the ideal Australia?

8. As a class group brainstorm some of the most important issues facing Australia's ecology or the local ecology. These could include:

  • the Murray River water flow
  • salinity
  • loss of forests
  • greenhouse gases and reliance on coal-fired power
  • damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

Describe what has happened. Describe the dangers and consequences if things do not change. Use the nine values below to develop an action plan in your class or community that would address the issue. Use the values to promote the action in posters or on the school website.

  • Care and Compassion
  • Doing Your Best
  • Fair Go
  • Freedom
  • Honesty and Trustworthiness
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion

Overview | Notes for teachers 1 | Notes for teachers 2 | Notes for teachers 3 | Notes for teachers 4 | Student handout 1 | Student handout 2 | Student handout 3 | Student handout 4 | Student handout 5 | Student handout 6 | Student handout 7 | Student handout 8 | Student handout 9 | Student handout 10

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