Over recent decades successive governments have pumped millions of dollars into the commemoration of Anzac Day, turning it into a huge national event and a day to tell a particular story of Australia’s history.
Should we mark Anzac Day in early childhood settings?
As always, the answer to this question will emerge from your relationships with children and families, and your knowledge of what is important to them and their communities.
Anti-bias approaches, which are the foundation of the Early Years Learning Framework, also give us the tools to grapple with whether to commemorate Anzac Day.
The first anti-bias goal is:
each child and educator will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities for themselves and others
As Red Ruby Scarlet notes in Pedagogical Provocations, in order to foster positive social identities for children and educators, “we need to be attentive to all of the facets that make up our identities like gender, race, class, sexuality, language, faith and religion, socio-economics, geographical region and learn to notice when children are being discriminated against because of any of these.”
By exploring the story of Anzac Day with the children in your setting, whose identities are celebrated, and whose aren’t? Do the children in your setting have experiences of war, and how might the Anzac Day story affirm or challenge their sense of wellbeing and belonging?
Do you know the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers who fought in Australia’s armed forces, or of Australia’s Frontier Wars? How will you approach the severity and intensity of war in a manner that is age-appropriate, while still respecting children’s capacity to engage with serious social and historical issues?
Before embarking on any poppy art, rosemary planting or other Anzac Day experiences with children, these questions should be given serious collective thought within your team.
What meaning does Anzac Day hold, if any, for the families within your community?
Which stories are being told about Australian history through Anzac Day, and which stories are sidelined?
How will you affirm children’s and educators’ identities, wellbeing and sense of security when engaging in discussion or exploration of war?
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