During Education Week, Federation had the privilege of being involved in Bexley Public School’s Multicultural Day. The event was held just three days after the Centre for Professional Learning Multicultural Education and Social Inclusion Conference, where teachers from the school were present. While still reflective on what had been posed by many at the conference, it was an impressive example of the way in which schools can highlight their school community in a genuine display of unity.
The day began when the school threw open its doors to welcome parents, carers and other family members into their children’s classrooms. Visitors were afforded the opportunity to look at children’s work, read with them, look at the work created in the classroom and observe the lesson being delivered.
A multicultural assembly brought all together. The principal gave a powerful speech about the public education system and multiculturalism. Various students then described through individual stories what multiculturalism meant to them. Bollywood dancers and students then entertained the crowd with music, colour and movement.
A parade demonstrated the rich tapestry of this local school and broader community. Some students wore traditional dress, some wore contemporary interpretations, some students held multiple flags to reflect the richness of their cultural heritages, and some students wore colours of a country they identified with — the choice was theirs.
Teachers, students and the community then joined together, in what could only be described as a feast of the United Nations. Students’ eyes lit up as teachers tried their homemade goods and parents and teachers served food from around the world to students and their families, while talking recipes and their origin. The day concluded with a concert displaying the creative and performing arts talent of every student in the school, including choirs, dance and drama written by the children themselves.
The teachers who attended the CPL’s professional learning the week before were not the organisers of the event, but had clearly reflected upon what they had learnt and shared with colleagues by “offering suggestions” for ways the day could be adjusted to ensure students and their communities’ interpretations of their cultural and linguistic backgrounds were defined by them, in a meaningful and authentic way. Congratulations Bexley, a wonderful example of professional learning in action.