Growing a visible symbol of Aboriginal culture

It’s made from large sandstone blocks, which I like because it’s permanent and immovable.

Creating a place on school grounds that visibly recognises Aboriginal culture is important, Bryan Rowe said.

Aboriginal Education Teacher at San Clemente High School Mayfield, Rowe has created a Yarning Circle at the school which is a “physical manifestation of the commitment by the school to Aboriginal culture”.

“It’s made from large sandstone blocks, which I like because it’s permanent and immovable,” Rowe said.

“I was inspired by the work of many of our local Aboriginal community members – we work together to make all of the school’s Aboriginal projects as authentic and culturally appropriate as we can.”

Rowe shares his time between San Clemente and Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, where he has recently taken on the role of IEU rep.

Being IEU rep is all about information and communication, Rowe said, similar to many aspects of his role as Aboriginal Education Teacher.

Rowe’s work can be pastoral, talking to students who are ‘feeling out of sorts’. It’s also cultural and academic, depending on what’s required.

For instance, Rowe recently joined a Science Geology excursion to a local beach where he taught students from an Aboriginal perspective. This included traditional uses of the landscape as well as uses for the locally sourced rocks.

The Yarning Circle he has created can be used for pastoral needs, providing a place in a more natural setting where students can take time out of the everyday classroom setting. It is also used by a variety of subject areas across the school such as Science, Religion and PDHPE.

“It is a popular spot, but it still has a section of ground leading to a large metal fence that needs beautifying.”

Rowe has been in contact with a restoration ecologist who is going to help revegetate the Yarning Circle with local native species.

“He usually works in the Upper Hunter, surveying vegetation, seed collecting, and replanting and managing restoration projects on large scale mine sites.

“He’s looking forward to working on this compact area. As well as native vegetation that will attract fauna he’s suggested installing nesting boxes for bats and birds as a way to increase biodiversity in the area.

“This ongoing project will involve many of the KLAs. Science of course, Geography, but also Industrial Technology to build boxes and Art to sketch the area.”

Rowe has the school’s support for the project, and intends to apply for an IEU Environment Grant to buy materials.

Sponsored by the Teachers Mutual Bank, the IEU provides a number of $3000 grants every year to schools and early childhood centres for environmental projects.