We reflect on our visit to Canberra with a mix of gratitude and awareness, gratitude that the trip could go ahead after the past year of COVID-19, and understanding raised through actually being in the room where it happens.
Our trip was jam-packed with visits to all the major sites in Canberra. In most places, we were accompanied by an expert guide and treated to an information session, with some including activities such as sketching or acting. Many of our guides commented about the behaviour of our students, complimenting them on their excellent manners and ability to ask intriguing, sometimes challenging, questions. We had to be flexible at times and adjust our itinerary because of the weather. Still, a little drizzly rain didn’t prevent us from doing anything, and we made the most of the magnificent parks and gardens throughout Canberra.
As we analysed and reported upon our tour over this past week, the notable highlights have been varied, from enjoying the role-play in Parliament House to the views from Telstra Tower, to the action at the AIS, to the beautiful feeling of togetherness. The Canberra tour forms part of our inquiry unit into ‘How We Organise Ourselves’. The central idea of the inquiry is
The interconnection between governance, leaders and citizens.
The following lines of inquiry have structured our investigations…
- The structure & systems of governance and leadership
- The connection between governance, leaders and citizens
- Our role as leaders and citizens
Students are now working towards collating and presenting their knowledge and understandings and sharing those through our assembly in Week 7.
We have included below some Canberra reflections written by the students using democracy, governance, leadership and citizenship as their lenses.
We are very grateful for the company and enthusiasm of Rod, Jodie, Jo and Aviv, who joined us on the trip to Canberra. It is so rich for the students to connect with staff from across the school community on all our camps.
Thank you for your support of our study program, and we feel privileged to share real-life experiences with the students as we learn about how our country is organised and governed.
Jacqui and Andy
THE JOB OF A CITIZEN
Last week I had an experience I’m never going to forget. It changed how I look at our very nation and my outlook on how our country is run like at old/new Parliament House. One of the main words I learnt about was democracy, and democracy basically means that people have power. So, a question, who has the most power?
A: The prime minister B: The government C: The people
You guessed it; the people have the most power. So, some people might say, oh, the citizens are just the people with no importance. The people just do things for the government, but it’s actually more like the government does something for us. So, the point of a democracy is that we choose who is in charge. Basically, the point of voting for someone is for someone to represent you, along with many others, in Parliament House. I learnt about voting at the Electoral Education Centre. You may not be the Prime Minister, but when united in a Democracy, citizens are the most powerful people in the country! There’s something else I want to talk about YOU; yes, YOU can be even more than a citizen. Even though, as I’ve said, they are very powerful, you can be a LEADER. I know this because everyone can have a say and even help with things you want to do well. How can you be a LEADER? Well, you need to be respected because if you’re not, then who’s going to follow your lead? You also need a voice, and I don’t mean like you can shout loud; I mean you can speak up about something that you think is wrong. Still, the most important trait of a leader, I’m going to say, is caring. So now you know the importance of everyone and, most importantly, that you matter! Caleb
When I visited Canberra, I saw an array of ways to represent leadership.
At Parliament House, I saw two different ways of showing leadership. The first way is minor and more of a metaphor of showing the topic; Annabel, Flynn and Bella portrayed leaders of political parties. Annabel was the Prime Minister, Bella was the Leader of the Opposition and Flynn, as the Speaker, performed in a role-play version of The House of Representatives. The second way is a unique way of being a leader; our guide Laura proved herself to be a leader as she taught and learned. She was one hundred per cent confident and supportive towards us. The way she answered questions and, even with the ones she didn’t know completely, she took a shot and really thought about it in order to grow our minds.
When Minimbah had the privilege to visit the War Memorial, I noticed a surprising outcome of leaders, us! Because of being in a respectful and emotional place for many Australians, we had to be on our best behaviour and be role models for ourselves. When there were other schools around us, we were role models exploring the past and seeing the danger and trauma people had been put through, the victories and the losses but holding ourselves with pride and hope in what our brave people fought for! We learnt that the battlefield isn’t what you’d expect; it’s teamwork, exploration and persistence to continue. Cedar
I loved it when we went to the new Parliament House and learned how the two rooms are run.
The House of Representatives was quite an experience, we learnt how the Prime Minister sits on one side, and the Opposition Minister sits on the other side. There is someone who runs the meeting called the Speaker; he or she can kick anyone out, and they have the most influential role in the room.
This room is where they speak about laws that should be introduced. There is opposition and the government. There are also independent parties or small parties called the crossbench.
The House helps solve problems and keep the country running. We call this “governance” because, without these “rulers”, our country would be in anarchy. This is a keyword in Parliament, “governance”. But with brainstorming ideas comes making them real. This is where the Senate comes in handy. The Senate is where the laws are put into action. Without this room, the ideas would just float around and never come to life. They figure out what laws should come to life based on the debate in the House of Representatives. Like the House of Representatives, they have a leader; they call this person the Senate Leader. This room does not have the Prime Minister in it, and no ministers are made in this room.
I personally think that the House of Representatives would be a great place to work if you are passionate about making Australia a better place. However, both Houses are necessary, and without governance, Australia would not exist.Aaron
When we went to Canberra, we did lots of activities related to democracy. We went to the MOAD (Museum of Australian Democracy) at the old Parliament House and learnt all about the history of democracy and how it has changed throughout the years. We learnt about the origin of the actual word democracy, which comes from the Latin words, ‘Kratos’ and ‘demos’. ‘Kratos’ means power, and ‘demos’ means people, equalling ‘Kratos demos’, people power. It was really fun learning about democracy and understanding what it means. We gathered a deeper understanding of democracy from learning about all these different things. When we did role play at the current Parliament House, we realised how democracy works in the Senate when passing a bill and how the people choose someone to represent their community. We have the power to decide who represents our state and how then whoever gets chosen does whatever is best for us, and then they help choose the Prime Minister for the whole of Australia.Lily R.
CANBERRA IN GENERAL
Canberra was so much fun; the most important thing we did was probably the old Parliament House and the new Parliament House because those places are the most critical in Australia. After all, it’s where laws are made and where bills are passed. While we went to both Parliament Houses, we did a role play in the House of Representatives. We had a fake mace and had scripts that people readout. We were all seated in the seats of the old Parliament House in the House of Representatives, but in the new Parliament House, we just sat down in some normal chairs in a mocked-up room. It was super interesting to find out about the House of Representatives and the Senate. It was such a fantastic experience, and I wish I could have seen even more places around the Parliament Houses. Jazzy