Florey Primary School: Cultural mapping: people to meet and places to go

The school and its community

Florey Primary School was established in 1989 and currently has a student population of 420. The school has a diverse mix of languages and cultures and maintains a strong ESL program.

We create and maintain a caring and safe environment which promotes positive interactions between its staff, parents and students. The school seeks to foster in its students a positive and realistic self-concept that opens the way to the development of informed decision makers who will actively participate in their community. We encourage children to believe in themselves and ask that they always give their best to tasks.

The school promotes the need for respect and tolerance of people, cultures and ideas that are different. Staff work collaboratively and are committed to ongoing professional development. Cohesive teamwork is encouraged so that staff feel fulfilled in their varying roles within the school. The school fosters a high level of effective communication across the community where feelings of mutual support and respect are translated into effective partnerships.

Florey Primary School

Program overview

A 'cultural map' describes the social interactions that take place in and around a local area. Creating a cultural map involves exploring what it means to be a member of a social network (in this project a suburb). The cultural map describes how people are connected through time and place.

As part of the process of cultural mapping, students:

  • involve the community in an interactive process;
  • compile information that highlights the unique qualities of the local built and natural environments;
  • reflect the local community's wide range of talents and aspirations (economic, environmental and social);
  • ink their own school's cultural map to the maps of other schools and so broaden their appreciation of shared and different identities across the wider community;
  • develop a realistic impression of their community functioning as a complex network;
  • investigate and come to understand the social organisation;
  • develop new understandings which raise awareness of opportunities for involvement in real local activities.

Program outline

Each year we update the Florey Cultural Map with new digital information. A small group of senior primary students known as the Press Gang compile an updated version. When asked to describe their task they wrote:

This means interviewing Florey residents, researching our history, describing our parks and sporting facilities, and exploring our unique environment.

Our relationship with local retailers began when we included them in last year's cultural map. When we talked with them about advertising on this page we already had some background knowledge of the shops and their owners. When this year's cultural map is finished we will present the retailers with their own copy.

To promote our cultural map the 2002 Press Gang organised a luncheon and invited some teachers and students from the Melba Cluster of schools to come together and learn from our experiences. We hope they'll make their own next year.

Learning outcomes

Use of this innovative form of community expression has increased the students' capacities to engage in significant community dialogue, thereby exploring two principles that underpin Discovering Democracy's theme of 'Citizens and Public Life':

  • participation in community life;
  • contributions of individuals and groups.

Florey's implementation of the Discovering Democracy principles faithfully echoes the rationale behind the Studies of Societies and Environments which 'challenges students to make creative responses both as individuals and with others, to important issues. Students are equipped to seek change and helped to find the confidence to manage the future. The learning area focuses on the need to live in peace and harmony in our independent and interconnected world of natural and social systems.'

Process

As students actively pursue their engagement in the democratic process we at Florey involve them in investigations that develop research skills, data processing and interpretation, as well as application of findings. They are encouraged to communicate and convey information in many forms to a range of audiences. Importantly, the students gain confidence through meaningful participation and collaboration. Their active involvement in democratic activities has modelled a community of practice.

A student who participates in the creation of a cultural map is immersed in studies in the following areas.

  • Time, continuity and change
    Students explore the past by listening to stories about their own families, asking how and why and recalling their own experiences. They begin to develop a sense of heritage through pictures, stories and other sources and gather information about cultural heritage by listening to adults, viewing artefacts and visiting significant places.

  • Place and space
    Students begin to understand the concept of place and space by exploring their immediate surroundings in visits to homes of friends, the library, local shops and sporting facilities. Their understanding is developed through discussion, using descriptive terms for location and distance.

  • Culture
    Students recognise the shared and particular characteristics of individuals. They explore customs, traditions and practices of groups and communities, including Indigenous culture. In covering the content children encounter issues of identity, social cohesion, cultural diversity and belief systems.

  • Resources
    Students begin to understand that a resource is anything used by people and includes themselves. They begin to understand and discover where things come from; they explore, discuss and value resources they use every day and start to appreciate why some resources have more value than others.

  • Natural and social systems
    Students explore other people's roles and responsibilities in the community. They develop an understanding of social organisation and alternative ways of arrangement within natural or social settings. New possibilities are imagined and proposed leading to activities that promote dialogue and conflict resolution.

Acknowledgements

The project represents work done by a dedicated membership of staff and students at Florey Primary School. The original concept was inspired by the ACT Chief Minister's 'Cultural Mapping Exercise' managed by Ms Sandra Davis. The first Florey Cultural Map was constructed under the Quality Teaching Program.