I was one person who was really impressed. Why? because each separate
task came with Aboriginal emblems around the edges. These caught my
eye and (it was explained) that they were designed by particular
Aboriginal students from the Territory. This was enough for me to try
them out on my Homework Centre children who ranged from the age of six
to sixteen. Twenty children in all.
Later in her presentation Joy describes some of
the individual successes she attributed to the involvement of her school,
Smithton High School, in the project.
The children were really excited and wanted to play with all the
tasks on the first night. This was really interesting because moving
around from table to table and pair to pair you could see that most
children were able to do the initial game or task...
But like all Aboriginal children, get them out, try out the initial
task and move on to the next one. Remember though that these children
were usually the most difficult from both the Primary and the High
However I have been fortunate in as much that our school has
seen the advantage of such a programme and also that we have been able
to maintain the same people, namely Mr Richard Walker and Mr Brett Gale,
Maths teachers, and myself for the whole programme. This has had an
enormous benefit to our students and the results speak for themselves.
My role at the school is also one of an AIDE, both with special needs
children and in the classrooms. This is what I especially want to share
with you. I have a special child, Shaun, who is classed as a category
'A' child. Shaun has very low muscle tone as well as learning problems.
Up until last year he could not even light a match; a task we all take
conclusion Joy states:
Well the Soma Cube is in the task centre and it is made up of interlinking pieces
of bright colours. I had the bright idea that it would help Shaun's
hands to manipulate these together and he would enjoy playing with them
whilst the other children did the actual maths task.
My breakthrough came two weeks later in a Woodwork and Design Class,
this was a year eight class and the teacher was trying to explain to an
ordinary class how he wanted them to draw a cube, showing all sides,
side view, front view and top view. Well I nearly fell over, Shaun put
up his hand and told the teacher that he knew how to do this as he had
been doing this with Mrs. Gillies. He not only knew what he was talking
about, Shaun managed, with a little help to actually achieve this
drawing. I have to confess, I had to leave the room, this was the first
time Shaun had been able to complete a task in design. These moments do
not come often, but if you could have seen the grin from ear to ear on
this child's face, I doubt that there would have been a dry eye. This
has given Shaun confidence and an eagerness to go to his Woodwork
classes, whereas before he did not like to go. Now he comes to me, every
Monday morning before school, to see what we are going to make this
You may be thinking, that this is very well for a disabled child, but
what about the average children, well here once again at our school, in
Mr Walker's class and I was fortunate enough to have been there, we have
an Aboriginal lad, who is very excitable and rather difficult to
actually get to sit down and pay attention. He is a year 10 student.
This boy just loves space work in Maths and usually can work at these
tasks but when it comes to coming back to actually writing up the
results, he usually reverts to form.
However with these tasks, he has been able to not only complete them,
but record his results and help other students. He has been on the lower
end of the learning scale but with these tasks he has leapt forward. Mr
Walker experienced a day when this child helped another child with the
same ability and then he jumped up and went to one in the class at the
top end of the learning scale who was having difficulty with this
particular task. Well my boy insisted on showing the other how to do it
and the more intelligent one did not want his help, even though he knew
my boy knew how to do it.
This is what these tasks are able to do for my children and it makes
me feel so proud because it relates to the other children that these are
not only fun, but it gives the Aboriginal children a greater sense of
pride, because of the Aboriginal drawings around the side. It tells them
that these are being seen as valuable learning aids for all students and
that they are a valuable part of this process.