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In 2019-2020, Australia experienced catastrophic bushfires, which destroyed wildlife, bushland, homes, and lives. This project was developed in response to the impact of these bushfires and as a way for young children, aged 0-5 years, to make sense of the devastation they had experienced personally or via the media. There has been no prior research about young children’s learning, curriculum, or pedagogies for bushfire recovery. This project engaged children in emergent, collaborative, co-constructed, and creative learning experiences.

The ‘bushfire project’ aimed to explore the nature of emergent curriculum and pedagogies, developed in collaboration with the children. It was intended that these experiences might enable children to represent their experiences and understandings of these bushfires in such a way that they could learn about and internalise the regenerative potential of the Australian bush, learn about the care for wildlife that they had witnessed being burned, and develop a greater understanding of planetary wellbeing.

The project asked the following question:

  • How do young children respond to their experience of bushfire recovery and continue learning about planetary wellbeing?

Children engaged in a range of inquiry-based learning experiences where they explored questions such as, How do trees and plants recover? How do animals recover? How are complex interconnected ecosystems re-established?

Click here to read the project report


Youth in the time of coronavirus – A/Prof Susanne Gannon and colleagues from the Education for Social Justice and Inclusion Research Program (ESJI) survey young people’s feelings, thoughts and experience during school lockdowns.

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Education for All: Universal rights to inclusive education can be hard to implement in countries where 85% of the population live in remote and rural areas.CER’s A/Prof Danielle Tracey and Dr Katrina Barker have been leading on a research project to help teacher-educators in Papua New Guinea promote inclusive education for students with disabilities.

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Course of Nature: Chief Investigator Prof Margaret Somerville has been leading on a research project observing children’s interaction with nature, fostering a sustainability mindset in early-childhood education and contributing to a broadening of literacy skills.

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Opening School Gates for Parents: Children tend to achieve more when their parents are involved with schooling. Led by A/Prof Christine Woodrow, a WSU team examined the barriers to parental participation in children’s education.

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Gender and Sexuality in the Classroom: A/Prof Tania Ferfolja and A/Prof Jacqueline Ullman carried out the country’s largest and most detailed exploration of sexuality and gender diversity education. They found that parents overwhelmingly feel there should be some education around these issues.

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