Please be aware that this digital resource may contain images and references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.
- Throughout this online exhibition you will be learning about the historical processes and events leading up to the 1967 Referendum. You will be examining the struggle of Aboriginal peoples for rights and freedoms and the important developments relating to the Referendum
- Through a series of historical artefacts you will be guided through an online exhibition. This exhibition will include photographs, documents and other images that may challenge but also intrigue you.
- At the conclusion of your participation in the exhibition you will be able to critically explain the significance of the Referendum in relation to the changing rights and freedoms of Indigenous people at this particular point in history.
- Throughout the exhibition you will be asked to complete activity questions as you go. Once you have examined an artefact you are required to complete the questions that will be located at ACTIVITY TIME! link.
- For more information in regards to Syllabus Requirements, Teachers are encouraged to visit the TEACHER INFORMATION Page.
- All References can be accessed HERE.
Your Exhibition Tour Begins Here…
Case for ‘Yes’ in the 1967 Indigenous referendum
This document sets out the official case for voting ‘Yes’ in the 1967 Referendum. It outlines the specific word changes in section 51 and 127 of the Australian Constitution that excludes Indigenous people. In the conclusion of the document, all major political leaders that support the changes are listed.
Original document access: National Archives of Australia, teachers and students archival records: VRROOM
This document focuses on the importance of removing/altering the discriminatory sections of the Australian constitution. It also identifies the importance of making the adjustment in order for the Commonwealth Parliament to make special laws for Indigenous Australians where necessary. The sections of the constitution (51, 127) that single out Indigenous Australians and fail to identify Aboriginal peoples as ‘citizens of Australia’, was seen to be out of character within Australian thinking in the 1960’s. In order to take the first steps towards the abolition of racism towards the Aboriginal people, it was important for the nation of Australia to amend these two specific sections. Having racist connotations in the nations’ constitution tarnished Australia’s international reputation. The two sections in question were seen as globally damaging as ‘racial issues [were] being highlighted every day’. Making these amendments would show the world that Australia is making conscious steps towards equal respect and the inclusion and of Aboriginal people in government policy and society.
This artefact contributes to national mythology in many ways. The Case for Yes document was the result of decades of Indigenous requests for equal rights. There is little evidence of this struggle or the involvement of Indigenous people in the construction of this particular document. At the end of the document the case has be authorised by many significant parliamentary members, none of which are Indigenous. This shows that even though it was the Indigenous people who fought for the change for so many years, it was still the white parliamentary members who had the final say in the amendments.
Adorno and Horkheimer present the idea that Culture Industries may cultivate false needs. This means that there is deliberate exploitation and manipulation in mass produced culture, controlling and producing the distribution of unnecessary goods. However, in the case of the referendum, there was a need rather than a want for the constitutional amendments. In order for the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia to be treated equally and recognised as citizens of their country, there was a need for a change in the constitution.
Examining this particular artefact shows how Australia has grown as a nation in relation to the treatment of Indigenous peoples and their rights as citizens of Australia. It shows the steps taken in order for Indigenous people to become recognised as equal citizens. Through History Education, the events leading up to, including, and the results of the constitutional amendments demonstrate how the nation has improved Indigenous equality.
Campaign Poster for voting ‘Yes’ in the 1967 Referendum
Poster used in the 1967 constitution amendment campaign. This poster appeals to the citizens of Australia to vote ‘Yes’ for constitutional amendments relating to equality to the Indigenous people of Australia.
Original document access: Click HERE
This artefact shows one way in which the government used posters to encourage the people of Australia to vote ‘Yes’ in the 1967 Referendum. This poster uses bold fonts, simple text and persuasive images to appeal to voters and gain the majority ‘Yes’ votes. This poster represents the lengths the Australian government went to in order to ensure that voters chose to amend the constitution. The lack of detail in the poster shows how simplistic advertising campaigns were administered in order to gain voters’ attention and sway them towards voting yes. This particular poster initially grabs the attention of the voter through the term “Right Wrongs”. This implies that there is something wrong with the constitution and voters have the ‘power’ to fix it. The poster doesn’t supply detail as to why you should vote yes, or the consequences of voting no, but instead uses fewer words to portray a message.
This artefact shows that there was a strong campaign program in place that encouraged the people of Australia to vote in favour of the constitution amendments. It also shows how details were limited in regards to what was being said in the campaign and what was being left out. The poster did not identify the possible reasons behind the need for the ‘yes’ vote and it also did not identify the consequences if the voters chose to vote ‘No’. This shows how posters, such as this, may have been used in a way that limited the amount of information presented in order to keep the decision making process simple for voters. “Our common, collective, or public, memory is built and maintained though a range of structures, symbols and practices” (Seixas, 2007). Through the use of simple language and an emotive image, the public memory towards Aboriginal equality is established and maintained.
This manipulation of information is similar to Adorno and Horkheimer’s idea of Cultural Industries and the way in which public information is altered in order to fill a particular need. The information presented in this artefact is displayed in a way that fulfils a particular agenda. The information present is succinct and the image is emotive. The largest word on the page is ‘YES’ demonstrating that the most significant piece of information that one must take from the poster is to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum. The poster purposely leaves out the particular information about why to vote ‘Yes’ in order to maintain a simple and concise message.
Via History Education, a study of posters such as this can help to create source analysis skills that can be applied to many other texts. The skills used to analyse and critique a text can be used to create a less biased opinion of historical events. If texts were studied in a way that examines what is being said, but also what is being left out, a more objective view of significant national events can be created and therefore perpetuated in a more equitable way.
Campaign poster: “The Rights of the Australian Aborigines AND YOU”
This poster was used during the 1967 Referendum campaign in order to persuade voters to agree to constitutional amendments that excluded Indigenous Australians.
Original document access: click HERE
Similar to the previous artefact, this is a campaign poster to encourage citizens to “Vote Yes” in the Federal Referendum. This poster shows the use of personalisation in order to convey a message. By addressing “YOU”, the reader is told how they can ‘personally’ make a difference in the lives of the Indigenous people. Unlike the first example, this poster provides information and a strong persuasive argument in favour of constitutional changes. Through the use of the United Nations quote, voters are told of the ways in which they can help to provide dignity and respect to Aboriginal Australians. This view of history demonstrates the ways in which the Nation of Australia united in order to promote/create change.
Through the collective use of a United Nation’s quote, Indigenous art and direct speech, the poster constructs a particular idea in the voter’s mind. The poster appeals to the public to help create justice and equality in Australia by voting ‘Yes’ to the proposed constitutional adjustments. By drawing on the empathy of the public, the poster creates the need for a ‘Yes’ vote in the Referendum. Once again, it does not directly provide the counter argument, but implies that if you choose to vote ‘No’, you will defy the Human Rights rules set by the United Nations. As Adorno and Horkheimer suggest, specific agendas are sometimes disguised as cultural immersion. The use of the Indigenous artwork down one side of the poster demonstrates the tokenistic way Indigenous people have been represented in the past. What may have been an attempt to include Aboriginal Artwork into the ‘Yes’ Campaign can also be seen as a way to superficially include Indigenous culture. By critically viewing the poster both possibilities can be taken into consideration.
Once again, the critical analysis skills learnt through a source study helps to build independent thought. The more information that can be retrieved from a text the more useful the text can be in understanding what is being said and, in turn, what is not being said. In particular regards to this poster, it is important to understand the context surrounding the images and words used at that particular time in history. As texts change meaning and mean different things to different people, it is important to examine what these texts intended to say and how they were interpreted at the time of their release.
Catholic Bishops support YES Campaign, 1967.
(click on the image to enlarge and view caption)
This article shows Mr. Joe McGuinness, president of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islands, leading a demonstration in support of the 1967 Aboriginal Rights Referendum. The protest was held at Norwood Oval and publically announced the support from the Catholic Church in regards to the constitutional amendments.
Original document access: click HERE
The representation of history presented in this newspaper article shows another way that people informed the public on how to vote in the referendum. Knowing where was best to hold their protest, shows the extent to which the ‘Yes’ campaigners went to in order to ensure their argument was heard. By ‘Silently protesting’ at a football game, protestors gain the attention of a large crowd; by taking the protest to the people, they are guaranteed an audience. Publically announcing the support from catholic bishops shows how religion played a significant role in society at this particular time. By referring to specific bishops, voters (specifically Catholic) are given more of an incentive to vote ‘Yes’ and have their choice be supported by the church.
This artefact shows how significant this project was for the ‘Yes’ campaign. The protest not only highlighted the support from the Catholic Church and significant Bishops, but also the fact that it was published in a newspaper at the time. The protesters not only gained the attention of the crowd at the football game, but also enough media attention to then have their story told in the newspaper. The high profile and media attention of this referendum is shown in this artefact, as demonstrations such as these make it to the paper.
Adorno and Horkheimer suggest that Cultural Industries create a need; making the public believe it is a need, rather than a want. By gaining the support of the Christian community, establishes a large number of ‘Yes’ votes. Through the inclusion of church support banners, protesters ensure the public are aware that there is a ‘need’ for the Catholic Church backing. This need then reinforces the large percentage of the population that follow Christianity and are heavily influenced by decisions that they make on behalf of the Church and its followers. Through a public demonstration, the keen support from the Church is highlighted and embraced.
This article helps nation building by the positive way it presents the article. The support of the Catholic Church, the president of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islands, Catholic Bishops and the image of the young boy admiring the sign, all work together to form a positive view in regards to the ‘Yes’ Campaign. The article does not mention any problems that the protesters faced at the football game and the two subjects that are pictured look pleased to be a part of the event. This article can be seen to add to nation building by showing the lengths that were taken in order for the Aboriginal people of Australia to be recognised in the constitution.
What would a “NO” Vote Mean
(click on the image to enlarge and view article)
This article deals with the consequences that may arise if the voters of Australia decide to choose ‘No’ in the 1967 Aboriginal Referendum.
Original document access: click HERE
This article provides a view of history that once again supports the Aboriginal Referendum.Through an exploration of the consequences of and the reasons for why voters should not vote ‘No’, this article“increase[s] historical empathy” (Marus, 2007). Instead of providing only information on why you should vote ‘Yes’, offering the possible results of a ‘No’ verdict is also presented. This article allows voters to better understand how their actions and how they choose to vote can affect Australia and its international reputation. The article also presents weariness towards the power that will be accumulated once the constitution is amended. Section 51 will allow the commonwealth government to make “special laws for the people of the Aboriginal race”. This ‘power’ is seen as something that may be abused in the future, the ambiguous nature of this amendment and the author’s scepticism is present in this article. Even though the article presents ideas about the ‘No’ vote, it still supports the ‘Yes’ campaign. By providing information on the negative results that a ‘No’ vote would bring and the effects it would cause on the nation’s international reputation, this article successfully presents an argument in favour of the Referendum.
This article assists in creating a particular national mythology. The high priority media coverage that the referendum campaign receives focuses on the case for ‘Yes’. When the newspapers do run a story on the opposing view point, it is still skewed towards the ‘Yes’ vote. The lack of coverage for the ‘No’ campaign may have been due to the country’s fear of being seen as racist towards the Indigenous of Australia. Any evidence that supports the ‘No’ campaign may have damaged the international reputation of Australia.
This story deliberately emphasises the negative results that would occur if the referendum found in favour to not amend the constitution. This article highlights Australia’s international reputation that would be tarnished if the constitution did not amend specific racist sections. According to Adorno and Horkheimer, embellishing stories in order to fulfil a particular agenda is paramount in Cultural Industries. In this case, the way in which Australia would look if the constitution remained the same has been emphasised in order to appeal to the people of Australia to ‘not let their country down’ and vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum.
A study of primary source newspaper articles is a significant part of History Education as it shows how news and current affairs were portrayed to the public in the past. Particular words are used to convey a specific message, and language forms and features are used in different ways to shape meaning and evoke a response. In order to understand how people delivered and responded to information, a study of newspaper articles is key. To gain an understanding of how Australia, as a nation, has grown and is improving Indigenous rights today, it is important to be aware of the events that paved the way.
1967 Referendum Results- Announcement in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.
This article was printed in the commonwealth of Australia Gazette on the 22nd June 1967. The article released the result of The 1967 Referendum which asked two questions: To Increase the size of the House of Representatives; and give Indigenous Australians the same rights as other Australians, including the right to vote.
Original document access: National Archives of Australia, teachers and students archival records: VRROOM
This article from the Australian Gazette provides the statistical results from the 167 Referendum. Each state and how they voted are presented for each of the two questions that were asked in the referendum. By releasing the results in this way, the people of Australia were given the opportunity to see how each state voted in comparison and the overall national tally for and against. By publishing this story in the newspaper, in the form of a table, shows the significant support that was given to the proposed constitutional amendments. By presenting this information reflects the attitudes and thoughts of the people of the time in regards to Indigenous rights. The results show that 90.77% of people voted for the proposed amendments, these results are compared to the other question that was asked, which received just more than half the support. The results show that Australia, as a nation, was significantly in favour of providing fairness and equality to Aboriginal Australians.
This artefact is statistically accurate in presenting the results of the 1967 referendum. The results are presented formally and without commentary input from the newspaper. “The past is not really kept in individual memory, but is a collective representation” (Halbwachs, 1992). This article shows how the collective results of the nation are presented and announced via a public forum. The results are presented in a table format and give the reader the opportunity to analyse the results independently. The significantly high support for the constitutional amendments stand out in the results, as the number far exceeds that of the against. In regards to creating national history, the public release of results is significant. The use of an official government document shows that the statistics speak for themselves and need no further explanation or analysis. By presenting the results in the Australian Gazette shows that Australia is proud of the support they have received in regards to righting the wrongs that have been imposed upon Indigenous Australians.
Adorno and Horkheimer’s argue that Cultural Industries are used to manipulate an audience and are constructed for a particular agenda. The publication of this article can be seen as fulfilling a certain agenda in a deliberate way. The fact that the entire statistical information was included, not just the final results, can be seen as a being presented to entertain an audience. By placing the Indigenous results alongside the results of the other referendum question also allows the viewer to compare the outcomes. As the other question was not as successful in receiving the ‘Yes’ vote, it becomes inferior by comparison.
This article shows how History Education looks at the events leading to the referendum, the subsequent results and how they are presented to the public. By investigate a document, such as this, allows for questions of purpose, context and audience to be examined. Why was this particular document release in this particular newspaper? What was the context of the article in relation to where it was positioned in the newspaper? What type of audience is this article appealing to? All of these questions help to position the reader as critical responders to texts in order to better understand the history of Aboriginal people in Australia.
This exhibition relates to Stage 5, Topic 6: “Changing Rights and Freedoms”. Through the study of this topic, students will be given the opportunity to gain an understanding of Aboriginal peoples’ experiences and their struggle for recognition and civic rights during the post-war period. This exhibition specifically looks at the events leading up to the Referendum and how Australia, as a nation, voted to amend the racist implications outlined in the constitution.
Topic 6, section A specifically looks at Australian Aboriginal Peoples and their fight towards equality, rights and freedom. At the beginning of this specific unit students will be looking at the continuity and/or changing government policies over time. This will include the motives, ideas and the eventual abolition of Protectionism and the 1869 Aboriginal Protection Act. A similar study will be done on integration, Aboriginal Assimilation, including the Stolen Generation, how these policies evolved over time and the effects it had on the Indigenous peoples of Australia.
Students will be given multiple sources to examine and use to discuss the significance of these events in the lives of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Through an in-depth study of government policies, personal recounts and the connection to modern-day events, students will be given the opportunity to develop their understanding about this significant story of Australian history.
This topic is given the choice to pair the Indigenous study with either post WWII Migration or the achievements of women post WWII. Both electives would work well alongside this study as ideas of subjugation, lack of rights, respect and inequality can be examined and compared.
Australian National Archives: Teacher and Students Virtual Reading Room. Accessed on 18/06/11 at http://vrroom.naa.gov.au/
Halbwachs, M (1992) On Collective Memory, Transl/ed. L.A. Coser, Chicago university Press, Chicago.
Hamilton, P. (2003). Memory studies and cultural history. In H.M. Teo and R. White (Eds.). Cultural history in Australia, pp.81-97. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales Press.
Horkheimer, M. & Adorno, T.W. (1988). Dialectic of enlightenment. NY: Continuum Press.
Marcus, A (2007). Representing the Past and Reflecting the Present: Museums, Memorials, and the Secondary History Classroom. The Social Studies, 98(3), 105-110. Retrieved May 24, 2011, from Academic Research Library. (Document ID: 1316328721).
National Museum of Australia, Canberra (2007). Collaborating for Indigenous Rights accessed on 18/06/11 athttp://www.indigenousrights.net.au/subsection.asp?ssID=88
New South Wales Board of Studies (2006). History Years 7-10 Syllabus. Sydney: NSW BOS. accessed on 15/06/11 at http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_sc/
Seixas, P. (2007). What is historical consciousness? In R.W. Sandwell (Ed.). To the past: History education, public memory and citizenship in Canada, pp. 11-22. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
Western Australian Museum (n.d). Right Wrongs Write YES. Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of 1967 Referendum. Accessed on 18/06/11 at: http://www.museum.wa.gov.au/exhibitions/online/referendum/
Complete the corresponding questions after examining the artefact.
Copy AND answer the questions below into your class book.
1. What is a referendum?
2. Why do you think referendums are important?
3. Why do you think the 1967 referendum was so successful?
1. Choose one technique used in this poster. Discuss its effect on the audience.
2. Why do you think the central image is of an Indigenous child and not and adult or group of indigenous people?
3. Do you think this post would be as effective today? Why/ why not?
1. Create a poster supporting the “YES” campaign that would be suitable for a modern day audience.
2. Why did you choose to create your poster this way?
1. Why would an article on Catholic Bishops and their support in the ‘YES’ Campaign be significant?
2. Who is pictured in the article? Why is this important?
3. Would this article be as effective if it ran in a newspaper today?
1. What are the main arguments in this article?
2. What message does the accompanying picture convey?
3. Is this article influential? Why/ Why not?
1. Where was this article published and why would that be significant?
2. What are the main points outlined in the article?
3. EXTENSION QUESTION: Find one more artefact that you could add to this exhibition. Provide a title, description and short analysis of your chosen text.
Option A: Using the media literacy framework articulated by Thoman (2005) and Kellner and Share (2005), develop a close reading of a newspaper article, television current affairs broadcast, or information website, that you might use in the classroom of your subject speciality.
The following YouTube clip is an example of a television current affairs broadcast that I would use in the English classroom. This clip encompasses all the basic functions and structures of a news broadcast, which is essential when teaching year 8 about ‘News and A Current Affairs”. The students will gain the “ability to interpret and create personal meaning from the hundreds, even thousands of verbal and visual symbols we take in everyday” (Thoman, 2003)
The student’s enjoyment of the clip is crucial, as it needs to capture and hold their attention. This text was chosen as the subject discussed would appeal to year 8 students. By choosing a clip on UFO’s the students are more likely to watch and participate in the activities that follow. The clip is also current enough to help promote discussion, particularly if students in the class happened to witness the event.
1) Who created this message and why are they sending it?
News and current affairs programs are typically run in order to inform the public on events and stories that have impacted, in some way, the world, country, state or town. In this case Channel 7 has presented a news story about a recent occurrence on the east coast of Australia. The possible intention of channel 7 may have been to inform. This may be the first time some people have heard about the occurrence, in this case Channel 7 aim to inform these people on what happened and the results on the event. Some members of the public may have witnessed the phenomenon and wish to be informed on what it was they saw. Often, news programs run a story that contrasts to the other stories of the day. This “personal interest piece” is often to lighten the mood, particularly on a heavily negative news day. These pieces come at the conclusion on the news broadcast and allow the program to end on a more positive note.
2) What techniques are being used?
Typical features of a news broadcast are being used in this clip. This was essential, as these features are the basis of the study.
- Opening statement: This has to seize the audience’s attention. It must be catchy and succinct; the audience must be hooked from the beginning in order to listen to the rest of the story.
In this particular piece, the reporter uses descriptive words such as “Strange spiralling white light” in order to gain the audience’s attention. The acronym “UFO” is used along with the words “Close Encounter” which appear to the side of the screen of the news reader. This is done in order to heighten the sci-fi aspect of the story.
- Footage of the event: Actual footage of the event is presented in multiple forms. It shows the same occurrence from different media modes; a video camera, still camera, mobile phone camera and web cam. This is to show how many people witnessed the event and to help promote validity in the story.
- Eye witness reports: Along with the statement “early morning surfers, farmers, truckies…” there are several eye witnesses who tell their version of the story. These people are ‘everyday’ people, in order to appeal to the audience and help the legitimacy of the event. “This thing was moving at a rapid rate” This statement is used in order to shock the audience and keep them interested in the final outcome.
- Presentation of statistical information: “It appeared just before 6 o’clock this morning” By presenting this information, the audience is taken through the story from beginning to end. “A spiral in the sky, a round of bright light” this is to perpetuate the idea of possible paranormal activity. “The bureau of meteorology confirms…” This type of information is used in order to validate the overall outcome of the event.
- Reporter addressing the camera: As the reporter concludes the story, he is walking towards the camera, presenting statistical information. He does this in order to maintain a connection with the audience, as it gives the impression that he is talking directly to them.
“Educators must develop robust forms of media literacy, computer literacy, and multimedia literacies” (Kellner & Share, 2005) Along with traditional news broadcast features, this particular clip incorporates multi-modal aspects that students can also study and determine their effect on the responder.
- Use of digital inserts: When informing the audience on where the event took place, a map of Australia is shown, marking all the places the suspicious light was seen, this is it accentuate to enormity of the event. As this particular news broadcast is shown in those same areas, this is to appeal to the audience as it is happening close to them.
- Multi-modal medium: In order to appeal to a larger audience, the broadcast includes footage from multiple cameras. As this is going to be shown to year 8 students, they can associate with the people who captured the footage on their phones or webcams.
3) What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in the message?
Multiple lifestyles, values and points of view are presented in this particular news broadcast. “Literacies evolve and shift in response to social and cultural change” (Kellner & Share, 2005). Because of this evolution, multiple interested are addressed. Through the topic of the ‘supernatural’, people who have interests in this area are included. Through the lines “early morning surfers, farmers, truckies…” shows how all different people were affected by the event, appealing to the wider public. This is reiterated through the eye witness reports from a surf life saver and a man who has recorded his sighting and consequential reaction on his webcam.
The news program shows this speculative story in order to entertain the audience. The values of this story include the news programs attempt to produce a light-hearted news story, the excitement over the possibility of the paranormal and the entertainment value of the story.
The points of view of many different people are considered throughout this broadcast. By incorporating everyday people’s ideas on the event, information from the bureau of meteorology, air traffic control and radio telescopes operators and the Sydney observatory, both professional and non-professional people are given a say on the event.
4) How might different people understand this message differently from me?
“No two people see the same movie or hear the same song on the radio” (Thoman, 2003). As this story is presented as a news program, the speculative information at the beginning might give the wrong impression to some viewers. News programs are commonly known for presenting viewers with factual information regarding current affairs situations. The beginning of this presentation sets the viewer up to believe that the story is going to be about a UFO sighting. Some viewers may watch this with a critical eye, as others may view it in a more passive way.
5) What is omitted from this message?
This news broadcast has purposefully omitted information; including dispelling speculation and not including conclusive results at the conclusion of the story. “Critical analysis that explores and exposes the structures of oppression is essential” (Kellner & Share, 2005). The news story centres on the idea that there was a possible UFO sighting down the east coast of Australia. Through eye witness reports, multiple images of the event and information from reliable sources stating “they had no involvement”, the story perpetuates the idea of supernatural activity and it isn’t until the conclusion of the story that possible scientific causes are suggested. During this conclusion the cause of the light is not official identified. “The Sydney observatory reckons this is the answer”, this indefinite conclusion allows the audience to make their mind up about what they believe to be the truth.
Thoman, E. (2003) Skills & Strategies for Media Education: A pioneering media literacy leader outlines the core principles and key components of this new educational agenda, Centre For Media Literacy, p 1-4.
Kellner, D. and Share, J. (2005) Toward Critical Media Literacy: Core concepts, debates, organizations, and Policy in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education vol 26: 3. Routledge: England, p 369 — 386.
Want to take a look? I did, they were pretty awesome…..
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2004). The literacy labyrinth (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.
Freebody, P., Luke, A (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural contexts. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5 (7), 7-16.
Luke, A. (1995). When Basic Skills and Information processing just aren’t enough: Rethinking reading in new times. Teachers College Record, 97, 95-115.
Rush, L. (2004). First Steps Toward a Full and Flexible Literacy: Case Studies of the Four Resources model. Reading Research and Instruction; Spring 2004; 43, 3; Academic Research Library, 37.
…..My Personal Literacy Memory
Thinking back on what visual and written texts impacted my development of literacy was initially quite difficult. It wasn’t until I was helping my niece with her homework that I remembered. My niece despises homework, so I was helping her maintain her concentration and get through her work as quickly as possible. She was learning to write the alphabet in cursive.
As soon as I saw the worksheet; I remembered doing them for my year 2 teacher. I can remember Mrs Croke instructing the class and demonstrating the capital letter ‘A’ and lowercase ‘a’ on the blackboard: “Don’t forget to kick the tail at the end”. She would ask us to write the letter in the air with our fingers before attempting to write on the sheet. We would trace the letters over and over and then we would attempt them ourselves on the lines below.
————————> An example of these worksheets can be viewed here
After we had mastered individual letters we would move on to how we could combine two or more letters, as if they were in a word together. Our first word was our name. We would write the word in air with our fingers as Mrs Croke instructed “Start at the top…Don’t let your pencil leave the paper…” We would do everything as a class first and then attempt it on our own. If someone was especially good at their cursive, they would be asked to demonstrate to the class on the blackboard.
————————>For your own cursive tutorial:
This exercise would be followed by the “Look, cover, write, check” activity, designed to help students memory. We would be instructed to look at our letter or word carefully, cover it up, write it how we remember it, uncover and check if it is written correctly. (This activity was also used later as a way to help us remember spelling words). It was used here in order for us to write letters and words in cursive without copying straight from what was already written.
“Literacy refers to the actual semiotic practices involved with semiotic systems such as language” (Anstey & Bull, 2004). This means that students, through literacy, are learning to develop knowledge and gain power through semiotic systems. Literacy is problematic as its definition changes over time and different groups will describe it in a different way depending on their own views. Literacy in education is often described in the syllabus as listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are also required to become familiar with ‘multimodal literacy’ and ‘critical literacy’.
Multimodal literacy includes all the ways in which meaning can be created in the world today, specifically in technological communications. Critical literacy considers the meaning, purpose, view, challenges and multiple readings within the text.
This literacy memory can be compared to the Four Resources Model established by Freebody and Luke (Freebody and Luke, 1990; Luke, 1995). This model presents a collection of practices students need to accomplish in order to be considered ‘literate’. It is not a developmental model; rather it requires all four sections to be addressed simultaneously. This means there is not hierarchy of the four elements, nor is it taught in a particular order. The model is sectioned into “Code Breaker”, “Text Participant”, Text User” and “Text Analyst”.
The first of the elements is Code Breaker, “which deals with decoding words and their meanings” (Rush, 2004). This element corresponds well with my literacy memory recount. A code breaker recognises the shapes and patterns of letters and uses those letters to form whole words. My teacher was building my literacy skills, by showing me how to correctly form the letters of the alphabet. In doing this, it became easier for me to recognise those letters when I read and eventually wrote my own words.
The second element is Text Participant, this requires “comprehension of the meaning of the text” (Rush, 2004). As a text participant, a student compares their own stories with those in texts. This was presented in the section of the lesson where were instructed to write our own names in cursive. We were required to identify the letters we had been tracing that were in our name. From past experiences of writing our names in print form, we were able to use our schema to identify the letters that were now in cursive form.
The third element is Text User, which occurs “When students show mastery of pragmatic competence” (Rush, 2004). This element includes learning the uses for various texts, setting a purpose for reading and being aware that different texts require different types of readings. This may require a student to use their knowledge of a variety of cultural and social functions of texts, and to be able to respond in suitable ways. For example, if a student was asked to watch a movie on Indigenous Australians and write a review for a newspaper on the movie, they would have to consciously view the film in a particular way, and structure the writing of the article very specifically; they would have to take into consideration the assumed audience of the movie and the culturally specific motivations of the film maker. This would require research and a prior knowledge of Indigenous culture and its’ belief systems. They would then have to transport this information for the broader audience of a newspaper, whilst using the correct forms and functions of a newspaper article. Being able to identify and then use both texts correctly allows the student to become an efficient Text User.
The fourth and final element is Text Analyst, which involves “Awareness of how texts construct and position human subjects and social reality” (Luke, 1995, p. 107). This requires students to understand that texts are not neutral and can be critiqued. When students are aware of this they are able to identify the author’s purpose and other possible perspectives, and to use their skills as independent thinkers to critique these perspectives. Looking back on this particular exercise, I can see the possible motivation for and importance of the lesson. This may have been to prepare students for later in life, where a mastery of quick, neat handwriting meant that they were able to be efficient in writing notes throughout our higher education. However, this was not explicitly taught in the lesson, as it was focussing on the way we were writing, not why we were writing in that particular form. Being an efficient Text Analyst requires an understanding of why texts are constructed in a particular way. For example, if a student was to look at the television series “Frontline” (Cilauro Et al, 1994) they would be able to critically analyse and identify the motivations of current affairs programs. Frontline uses satire, parody, exaggeration and humour to show how news and current affairs programs misrepresent social realities and sacrifice the truth in order to heighten ratings. Students use their abilities as Text Analyst to understand how these shows choose their content in order to suit the audience. Correctly identifying and being critical of these motivations, students become effective text analysts.