Australian culture was definitely very prominent in my classroom at South Coogee Public School. The school is situated about two blocks from a beach, and as the weather is seasonally much warmer than in Boston, only classrooms are inside. The school takes advantage of the beautiful Australian weather by having all of the hallways outside and by having students eat lunch and snack outside and have gym class outside. Much more learning occurred outdoors there than at home in the U.S. because being outside and being active is a very important part of Australian culture.
In addition the culture being reflected in the layout of the school, the subjects taught also showed Aussie culture. Australians have a fierce love of sport and intense pride in their country, so naturally the Olympics were a very big deal in Australia. My class spent about five or six weeks learning everything about the Olympics, from when it started to where it has been held to what the different events are. They also learned about important Australian athletes like Cathy Freeman, and they followed to games closely to count how many medals Australia had won. I thought it was really fun that my teacher designed a whole unit around the Olympics, because the students could really get involved and relate to everything they were learning as they were watching it all happen right in front of them! The enthusiasm about the Olympics in my classroom was a very accurate microcosm of what was happening everywhere in Australia.
In addition to the Olympics, my students learned about a lot of other famous Australians. Among them was Brett Whiteley, an artist. They studied a lot of his paintings, which were basically all of uniquely Australian things like the lyrebird or the Sydney Opera House. It was great to see their interpretations of his art, especially of the opera house which is basically in their own backyard.
All of the units and lessons incorporating Australian culture were probably my favorite during my student teaching experience because they gave me a very unique experience that I would not get anywhere else. It was definitely an enjoyable insight into both the country and the Australian school system.