After the devastating effects had on the Tasmanian devil population from the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) the Save the Tasmanian devil Program (STDP) has made significant progress in the protection of devils in isolation and with reintroduction of devils to unaffected areas of Tasmania. Over the past three years over 70 disease free devils have been released into the wild at the Forestier Peninsula, Narawantapu National Park and on Maria Island (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment [DPIPWE], 2015). Butin (2010) explains that citizenship education should be seen as both a philosophy and a pedagogy that links classrooms and communities together. There are many lessons that could be developed from this local contemporary issue to help within the community and other areas in Tasmania. Shaw (2012) states that from research it has been found that engaging students into civics and citizenship learning is a challenge but activities regarding social issues are more preferable for students than government and political lessons. Smith and Sobel (2010) describe active citizenship as students ‘identifying and acting on issues and concerns that affect their own community’ (p. 54). This leads to community involvement, community-based education, and the chance for ‘real world’ problem solving experiences (Beames, Higgins & Nicol, 2012).
To begin learning, year four students will participate in a whole group discussion. They will be asked questions including: do students have any favourite places to go camping or spend time in nature? Is there any native wildlife there? If so, what kind? Are Tasmanian Devils known to live in the area? Or have they been recently introduced? They will also be asked if/what they know about the DFTD and the reintroduction of devils back into the wild. Students will then work in small groups to discuss questions including the implications of TD being introduced into different areas around Tasmania and what are the potential impacts of reintroduction?
Students in small groups will develop questions to present to a Parks and Wildlife ranger who will visit their class in the coming week. Groups will then share the questions they developed with the rest of the class before interviewing the Parks ranger. This activity aligns with the Australian Curriculum content descriptor ACHASSI073 (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2015). Students will then in pairs be assigned the task of creating information posters using a variety of mediums. These posters will be designed to educate the public about the introduction of devils into the area and what they can do to help, minimise their impacts while camping or visiting these areas which aligns with the content descriptor ‘ACHASSI082’ from the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2015). To assist with this task, students will be provided with the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles outlined by the Parks and Wildlife Service (DPIPWE, 2014).
As well as promoting active citizenship education, this activity incorporates learning in the areas of Geography and Sustainability. This is achieved through direct learning within their local areas and how the reintroduction of TD will help with the sustainment of the species.
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Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2015). Humanities and Social Sciences. Retrieved from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/hass/curriculum/f-10?y=3&y=4&y=5&y=6&s=inquiry-and-skills&s=G&s=CNC&c=1&c=2&c=3&c=4&c=5&c=7&c=6&p=1&p=3&layout=1#yl-4
Beames, S., Higgins, P., & Nicol, R. (2012). Learning outside the classroom: theories and guidelines for practice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Butin. D. (2010). Service-learning in theory and practise: the future of community engagement in higher education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), 2015. Wild devil recovery. Tasmanian Government. Retrieved from: http://www.tassiedevil.com.au/tasdevil.nsf/folder/_WildDevilRecovery
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), 2014. Parks and Wildlife Service, Leave no trace. Tasmanian Government. Retrieved from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=406
Shaw, G. (2012). Active and informed citizens…moving beyond the aspiration. Ethos, 20(3), 11 -16.
Smith, G. & Sobel, D. (2010). Place and community-based education in schools. London: Routledge.