IEU activist wins literary scholarship

IEU activist Alex Wharton from Carinya Christian School in Gunnedah NSW, is the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund’s first Reading Australia Fellow for a Teacher of English and Literacy.

Copyright Agency’s CEO Adam Suckling said: “The Reading Australia Fellowship provides $15,000 to a leading English and literacy teacher to develop a career enhancing research project which can be shared with other teachers to further the profession”.

Reading Australia is Copyright Agency’s hub for teachers, bringing Australian stories to life through the provision of peer developed teaching resources, essays and learning materials.

Wharton’s research project will explore best practice around teaching Indigenous literature in the classroom to develop a greater understanding of the issues, protocols and sensitivities involved.

He will share what he has learnt with the wider teaching community, including his IEU colleagues. Wharton attended the IEU’s Activist Conference and is active on the IEU’s social media pages.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is a cross curriculum priority in Australian schools but teachers can struggle with the confidence to accurately bring these perspectives to life – and that’s where research in this area is so critical. You cannot replace the power of reading a story from an Indigenous person’s perspective to challenge stereotypes and deepen understanding,” Suckling said.

As a teacher in a regional school, Wharton said access to the Fellowship will enable him to meet his professional growth goals, something that is particularly challenging in rural areas.

“A better understanding of the stories written by Indigenous people will enable teachers to more fully engage Indigenous learners in classrooms,” he said.

“This is the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages and I cannot think of a better time for this Reading Australia Fellowship to focus on genuinely bridging intercultural understanding, offering further pathways towards reconciliation and recognition.”

Wharton has also set up a blog called The Missing Peace to record his Fellowship journey.