Helping students understand the refugee experience using Go Back To Where You Came From

Over the last three nights Australia has been confronted with the heartbreaking reality of the world’s 15 million + refugees thanks to the powerful documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From. This is the third series of the show which tracks the journey of five everyday Australians as they discover the impact of Australia’s current refugee policy.

I was privileged to be invited to work in conjunction with the Australian Red Cross and SBS to develop teacher resources to support the use of the series in the classroom. The purpose of the teacher resources is the help students better understand the facts about the refugees experience, specifically focusing on these areas:

  • Current world conflicts
  • Identity and belonging
  • Human rights and vulnerabilities
  • Statelessness
  • Religious diversity in Asia
  • Preconceptions about refugees
  • Australia’s migration history
  • The role of international and aid organisations
  • Global patterns of people movement

As noted by Australian Red Cross ambassador Dr Munjed Al Muderis, the only way to improve the lives of refugees is to educate people about the reality of their experience, our legal and moral responsibilities as global citizens, and the ways that every individual can help refugees overseas and in our own countries. The teacher resources created for the series does just that, and is not just useful for Australian teachers, but for teachers in all countries, specifically those more privileged countries that can do more to help.

I designed the resources using a structure loosely based on my Project Based Learning model – discover, create, share. Below is a description of these types of activities, drawn from the Teacher Resource Pack:

Discover: these activities enhance students’ understanding of key concepts and develop their critical thinking, research and comprehension skills.

Create: these activities provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts by applying their new knowledge in the creation of a range of types of texts, and develop their creative thinking, ethical understanding and use of ICT.

Share: these activities encourage students to share their learning with an audience beyond the classroom, and develop their communication and presentation skills.

There is a wide range of activities, which can be used as part of a longer unit of work or project, but can also be used as single lessons or even for extra-curricula activities like school camps or Student Representative Council days. Check out the website to see all of the great resources. You can access the full Teacher Resource Pack PDF here.

I also wrote activities to support the teaching of the interactive graphic novel The Boat which is based on the powerful story by Nam Le. These resources take two forms – the first is a PDF with comprehension activities based on the Super Six Comprehension strategies, and the second is a series of creative activities based on videos of The Boat’s illustrator Vietnamese-Australian artist Matt Huynh. I’m particularly proud of these creative activities and hope LOTS of teachers use them with their students, and share their work using the Twitter hashtag #SBSlearn! Check out the website to see all of The Boat resources. You can access all of the resources for The Boat here.

Please share this post with you colleagues, especially those who are English, History or Geography teachers. I hope they make a difference in the lives of young people, as well as the future attitudes towards refugees and governmental policies that affect the lives of our world’s most vulnerable people.


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