Australia is one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies. Our community brings together the cultures, experiences, beliefs and traditions of over 300 different ancestries, from the First Australians to the newest arrivals. Victoria, in particular, is a thriving hub of diversity, with nearly half of our population estimated to have been born overseas or to have at least one parent who was born overseas.
Children are exposed to a multitude of cultural views through mainstream media and social media channels, as well as from their communities and peers. These views are sometimes over-simplified and present inaccurate perspectives.
The Victorian Curriculum identifies
intercultural capability as an essential set of knowledge and skills for all students. Teaching intercultural capability assists students to reflect on intercultural experiences and supports them to interact and empathise with others from different backgrounds. It also fosters an appreciation of how cultural diversity can strengthen social cohesion.
Islamic Museum of Australia has recently developed an innovative student education program that offers a variety of educational packages aligned to the Victorian Curriculum, including intercultural capability. The educational packages are designed for both primary and secondary school children and combine a presentation, questions and answers, a guided tour of the museum and interactive activities.
Established five years ago, the museum is part of Multicultural Museums Victoria, a partnership that also includes Melbourne’s Chinese Museum, Hellenic Museum, Jewish Museum of Australia and Museo Italiano. Located in Thornbury, the museum aims to promote community harmony and facilitate an understanding of the values and contributions of Muslims to Australian society.
Sherene Hassan, the museum’s Director of Education, says educating young people is at the heart of their mission.
‘The museum actively engages with students through tours and workshops, sharing knowledge and facilitating a greater understanding of Islam among young people, our future leaders,’ she says.
‘We welcome both primary and secondary educators who seek to enhance their classroom learning program with a museum experience.’
In addition to its student education program, the museum has a free online education portal aligned to intercultural capability for Year 4–10 students and teachers. The resources are based on the museum’s exhibitions and permanent galleries (Islamic Faith, Islamic Contributions to Civilisation, Islamic Art, Islamic Architecture and Australian Muslim History). They are organised according to modules that contain student learning activities and educator notes. The primary level modules use an integrated curriculum approach, while the secondary level modules are subject-specific.
Teachers are also welcome to attend the museum’s periodic professional development activities. All sessions are specific to a subject or curriculum area and year level, and are referenced against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.