Activity: Evaluate texts and media used in the classroom.
Activity 1: Evaluating bias
Students will be advised in a previous tutorial to bring texts they know are used in classrooms. (This means that they have seen them when they are on professional experience, their kids have brought them home from school, they have knowledge of them from elsewhere.)
At the beginning of the tutorial, students are each given the 'criteria to evaluate bias' made into a PDF handout
and each of the criteria (below) are discussed.
Then, working in groups, students use the criteria to evaluate bias contained in three texts used in classrooms.
During the last half of the tutorial, volunteers are asked to discuss one of the texts. Whole group discussion can follow in relation to the importance of the criteria.
A follow up activity could centre around how the texts could be used in the classroom, if there is bias present.
Criteria to evaluate bias
- Omission: selecting information that reflects credit on only one group, frequently the writer/s group.
- Defamation: calling attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s faults rather than their virtues and misrepresenting their nature.
- Disparagement: (disparagement: something that lowers a thing or person in worth or importance): denying or belittling the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Australian culture.
- Cumulative Implication: constantly creating the impression that only one group is responsible for positive developments.
- Validity: failing to ensure that information about issues is always accurate and unambiguous. (Ambiguous: having more than one possible meaning.)
- Inertia: perpetuation of myths and half-truths by failure to keep abreast of historical scholarship.
- Obliteration: ignoring significant aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
- Disembodiment: referring in a casual and depersonalised way to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “menace” or representing the annihilation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as part of the march of progress.
- Concreteness: dealing with a race or group in platitudes and generalisations (applying the shortcomings of one individual to a whole group). To be concrete, the material must be factual, objective and realistic.
- Comprehensiveness: failing to mention all relevant facts that may help to form the opinion of the student.
Activity 2: Selecting resources
Prior to this tutorial, negotiate a space with your Librarian and seek his/her cooperation in being available for the duration.
Give each student a PDF handout which contains the following key questions for evaluating resources:
Accuracy and support
- Is the material accurate: truthful, exact and free from error?
- Do illustrations and photographs portray Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people positively?
- Are stereotypes avoided?
- Is the material accurate?
- Does the material over-generalise?
Balanced nature of material
- Are illustrations and photographs positive and accurate portrayals of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people, and relevant to the text?
- Are photographs accompanied by captions which name the Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander persons/Language Groups and where they come from?
- Are stereotyping and racist connotations present?
- Is the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies acknowledged?
- Does the resource emphasise sacred and profound aspects of Aboriginal cultures and Torres Strait Islander cultures to the exclusion of other cultural groups?
- Does the material use derogatory terms that offend Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people?
- Does the resource trivialise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technologies?
- Is the material biased/does it distort the real issues?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation
- Is the author an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person?
- Does the resource acknowledge Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander participation in the research, writing and presentation process?
- Has the material been endorsed by local, regional, state or territory AECGs or endorsed by other Indigenous groups?
- Is the material acceptable to the local community?
- Does the material use appropriate terminology?
Exclusion of content of a secret or sacred nature
- Does the material show and/or talk about secret or sacred items?
- Does the publication use the name of a deceased person?
(National Aboriginal Studies and Torres Strait Islander Studies Project 1995)
Students work in groups of two (or three if there is an odd number), preferably in the Library, and select three resources suitable for teaching Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
Students have the opportunity to discuss these in the tutorial or on the discussion board. As a follow up, or as an assessment item, students could write a lesson plan using these suitable resources. Remember: it does not have to be a text specifically about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
'Questions teachers need to ask when evaluating texts
' (PDF), adapted from Qualifications and Curriculum Authority 2003, Respect for all: valuing diversity and challenging racism through the curriculum,
National Aboriginal Studies and Torres Strait Islander Studies Project 1995, Resource Guide for Aboriginal Studies and Torres Strait Islander Studies,
Curriculum Corporation, Carlton, Vic.
Kenworthy, C & Kenworthy, S 1997, Changing places: Aboriginality in texts and contexts,
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, WA.
National Aboriginal Studies and Torres Strait Islander Studies Project 1995, Resource Guide for Aboriginal Studies and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Curriculum Corporation, Carlton, Vic. pp. 120.