The power of connecting kids to culture

The power of connecting kids to culture

On Wednesday 1 September, the Sydney Opera House’s Digital Creative Learning team, in collaboration with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, presented an engaging 25-minute event for primary and early learners.

The event was hosted by dynamic performer and author Gregg Dreise, with a special guest appearance by Australia’s favourite pop singer Jessica Mauboy

The event featured First Nations stories and language in a fast-paced performance, including a virtual flight to the Tiwi Islands to join local children at the island swimming hole and on a hunt for mussels in the mangroves.

A descendant of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi Aboriginal Countries, from south-west Queensland and north-west NSW, Dreise is a gifted artist, storyteller and musician who features the didgeridoo and guitar in his performances at schools, libraries and festivals.

He is also an author and illustrator of Silly Birds, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie, which focus on the teaching of morals to young people. Along with these books, Dreise’s works proudly address his culture: including friendship; kindness; tempers; bullying; being humble; and social change.

In an interview with The Educator, Dreise highlighted the importance of promoting Stories and Language throughout the 2021 celebrations of Indigenous communities.

“If you talk to anyone about their love of reading, a common answer is that they feel connected to the story,” Dreise told The Educator.

“For far too long Indigenous Australians have had a lack of cultural stories to feel that connection to. It is amazing to now see that people from remote communities are enjoying the exciting process of creating Community Books in their own languages.”

Dreise said this comes from the generosity of Australians and fantastic work with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

A part of Dreise’s involvement with schools is conducts workshops with teachers on how to embed Indigenous culture into their classrooms.

“My workshops with teachers are all about maintaining the truth to Australian History – whether it is glorious or something to be ashamed of. Once people understand true history we can grieve together, before we believe together and achieve together,” Dreise said.

Dreise said his other major focus is to instil confidence in teachers to include Indigenous Perspectives into everyday lessons without fear of getting something wrong.

“I passionately encourage teachers to learn from mistakes of the past, and cooperatively build all Australian’s knowledge and pride of Indigenous Australia.”