Lifting Noongar voices and strengthening Cultural learning through the arts

Lifting Noongar voices and strengthening Cultural learning through the arts

In February 2022, The Song Room launched the digital ‘Deadly Arts Collection’ on ARTS:LIVE.

Led by Noongar artists, the Deadly Arts Collection is designed to lift up contemporary First Nations voices and strengthen learning in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Histories and Cultures through creative arts experiences. Noongar artists, community members and The Song Room educators developed the arts education resources to bring appropriate cultural learning into classrooms across Australia with curriculum aligned resources and activities.

“I am feeling very emotional about the launch. This is bigger than just lesson plans and teaching videos – this is about cultural preservation, keeping languages, art traditions and cultural practices alive for future generations to learn from… these resources are part of our history, and are Noongar people’s legacy.”

– Artist and primary school teacher, WA

Noongar Teaching Artist teaching arts learning lesson

Over 10 months the team collaborated to proudly produce 12 impactful online courses, consisting of 5 videos, 63 lesson plans, and over 100 additional curriculum-aligned teaching resources, student activity sheets and assessment tools. The project included the direct participation of 1578 students (including 341 Indigenous students) across six Perth based primary schools operating in disadvantaged communities.

“If children learn dance and language and ceremony they will soon find themselves – their whole selves.”

– Della Rae Morrison, Singer Musician and The Song Room Teaching Artist, from the Bibbulmun Noongar Nation

In the resources the stories, traditions and practices of Noongar Teaching Artists working in The Song Room’s Deadly Arts programs are shared. Teachers and students get access to the program and hear from participating Teaching Artists, students, teachers and wider school communities. Continuous testing of the resource ideas and lesson materials led to the publication of learning material that is relevant and practical for use in the Australian school context.

“Our First Nations cultures are so rich and we have so much to share. We can all benefit from this old, cultural knowledge.”

– Rickeeta Walley, The Song Room Noongar Teaching Artist

At a time when many teachers were exhausted and rejecting most offers for professional development, 50 teachers attended professional learning sessions led by the Noongar artists. The sessions were designed to help teachers use the Deadly Arts digital resources, and to demonstrate how to cover social and emotional learning topics while appropriately exploring culture. The positive feedback showed an increase in teachers’ confidence to adopt culturally responsive pedagogies that will inform their teaching now and into the future.

“For the first time, I feel confident that I have the permission, strategies and resources to bring this into my classroom in an authentic and respectful way so as not to offend, appropriate or be tokenistic but instead to celebrate, uplift and actively contribute to reconciliation.”

– Teacher, participant, at the Deadly Arts Collection Professional Learning Session

Thanks to the generous support to Lotterywest over 63 hours of high quality, sequential, curriculum-aligned digital content is freely available for more than 35,000 ARTS:LIVE subscribers. As of December 2022, the 5 course videos have been played in 37 different countries, with 27,921 loads and 5,445 video plays.

For more case studies on The Song Room programs in 2022, check out The Song Room’s 2022 Year in Review.