Cross-cultural learning from Noble Park to Cairns

Students of Noble Park Primary School pay their second visit to an Indigenous community in Far North Queensland.

Noble Park Primary School students are broadening their cultural understanding by taking their learning outside of the classroom to Far North Queensland. 

Nine Year 5 and 6 students from the school were part of the school's second trip to Yarrabah State School, which is based in an Indigenous community just outside Cairns.

Noble Park staff met fellow educators from Far North Queensland  at a professional learning program in New Mexico almost five years ago, and have kept in contact ever since.

Education on the land and in the city

Noble Park students spent six days sharing classes with their new classmates in Queensland and playing rugby – a real culture shock –  and other fun activities.

Highlights of the trip included visits to the Sky Rail and  Tjapukai Cultural Centre, Hartley's Crocodile Adventure Park and the famous Cairns lagoon (sans crocodiles).

These visits were part of creating a holistic approach to learning about indigenous perspectives and practices.

Noble Park Prinicpal David Rothstadt says the most memorable event was the 'on country experience'.

'We had the privilege of being taken to special sites by Uncle Nathan, an Indigenous language LOTE (Language Other Than English) teacher,' Mr Rothstadt says.

'The children heard local stories about rock carvings and the formation of geological features. They learnt about bush medicine and bush tucker.'

Students discovered Indigenous body paint, and learned how to use native plants. They stayed hydrated in the tropical warmth by drinking from a fresh stream with bush cups made from leaves.

A few months later six Yarrabah State School students attended Noble Park Primary School to experience learning in Victoria.

They spent some time in the school's homerooms and enjoyed a day in the school's kitchen garden program. Noble Park  students also designed a Melbourne tour day for their new friends, walking along Birrarung Marr to see the MCG and Federation Square.

Teaching exchange

It's not only the students that benefit from the school partnership. Teacher exchanges, professional coaching and more has also been a strong focus between the two schools.

Noble Park teachers have shared their school's well-developed model for personalised student learning approaches – helping Yarrabah create meaningful individual learning plans for students.

In return, Yarrabah's knowledge of Indigenous culture is helping Noble Park to develop a more authentic connection to teaching culture in the school curriculum.

'It is through authentic relationships that we learn about others' cultures and perspectives; this was an experience our students will never forget,' Mr Rothstadt says.

This cultural experience was made possible thanks to support from the Noble Park Rotary Club.