Children already know how to be good citizens

I love my country and all of its diversity in landscape, animals, plants and peoples. There are good people here. I was born here and hope to always call this place home. I love that there is not one easy way to define our country, or what makes us Australian.

There are aspects of our country too, that I am not proud of at all. Our nation’s history, for starters, which for more than 2 centuries continues to be an unhealed sore for our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander citizens, as well as other nationalities and races who call Australia home. January 26th, our own national day, is a divided experience for Australians. The date that our country celebrates British settlement, is a sad reminder of the well established and undeniable fact that Australia was already populated with a thriving diversity of people, established for hundreds of thousands of years prior to colonization. These people, thus also their languages and their cultures, were cruelly decimated within a century of white settlement.

I find I can’t sing the Australian anthem without sadness any more. I find myself longing for a song, a flag and a national day calling us all in together: something that doesn’t try to too hard to hide our history, rather is an honest acknowledgement of the very ugly truth; and a celebration of how we are gradually maturing as a nation to develop new attitudes and practices to embrace our diversity. Here is a photo of four Australian Numala Kinder children singing a song of healing to a chicken who had a broken toe. Without prompting, they formed a circle, gently passed the chicken around and sang whatever came from their heart. I find myself wanting to sit in a circle and sing a song of healing to our broken history, just like the small people I spend my days with.

We can help children share and express what they know about being good citizens, caring people and earth stewards. Through our modeled behaviour, our conversations, our attitudes, and voicing what we believe to be important and fair for all. It is through this cultural storytelling our children can find validation for what they already know to be true. Who says that adults are the only ones who set an example about how to behave and what to believe? More often than not, our children are already showing us how it is done. They already know how to be good citizens.

Jennifer McCormack offers professional development for early childhood services to encourage critical thinking and skills for practical approaches to a variety of arts-based and playful topics. Jennifer if also available for conferences and special events. See the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT page for details.