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Old Dog, Big Cuz and Little J head off to school. Image © Ned Lander Media 2016

Little J and Big Cuz coming soon to classrooms

When Little J and Big Cuz arrive on our screens in late April they will bring with them a raft of resources to help incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the classroom.

The first episode of Little J & Big Cuz, the ground-breaking new animated television series aimed at supporting a successful transition from home to school for Indigenous children, is set to premiere on NITV at 7.30pm AEST on Friday 28 April.

As previously reported, the series follows lead characters Little J (voiced by Miranda Tapsell) and Big Cuz (Deborah Mailman) as they explore their world and discover more about their culture and the great things that school has to offer.

To coincide with the series broadcast, a new Little J & Big Cuz website will also be launched, containing games for children, supporting resources for families and educational resources for teachers.

These educational resources have been developed by ACER with Indigenous Education Consultants Dr Sue Atkinson, Jess Holland, Elizabeth Jackson-Barrett, Priscilla Reid-Loynes and Alison Wunungmurra, along with former ACARA Senior Education Officer Deborah Cohen and with support from Dr Mayrah Driese in the role of critical friend.

Ms Reid-Loynes and Ms Wunungmurra had the opportunity to discuss the aims of Little J & Big Cuz when they were panel members for an episode of NITV’s current affairs program, Awaken, titled ‘Education: Out Of The Box’.

‘I think it’s really important for Indigenous children to be able to see themselves [on television] and that they are valued,’ Ms Wunungmurra said during the program.

Ms Reid-Loynes said it’s really important not only that children and their families engage with the series, but that educators come to know Little J & Big Cuz too.

‘It's about educators upskilling themselves about the Indigenous history of this country,’ she said.

‘The strongest part of…Little J & Big Cuz is [is that] we’re actually saying there is knowledge within country; that country holds its own curriculum.’

Teacher Magazine recently interviewed Ms Reid-Loynes and Ms Cohen about the development and purpose of the educational resources, which have been mapped to both the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum (Foundation – Year 2).

Ms Reid-Loynes told Teacher that while the Little J & Big Cuz educational resources were developed specifically with Indigenous Australian children in mind, they can successfully be used with children from other backgrounds too.

‘It’s for all children but it’s also for educators, because what my own work tells me is that educators are unsure of what to do.

‘It’s about supporting the child but also supporting teachers and schools to be confident delivering Aboriginal perspectives within the classroom and also asking educators to look at Aboriginal pedagogies and how they can use that within the classroom,’ Ms Reid-Loynes said.

Ms Cohen told Teacher that the Little J & Big Cuz educational resources align Indigenous knowledge, cultures, skills and processes of working in every one of the 30 different learning activities that can be attempted following the viewing of an episode.

Ms Cohen explained that the resources, which teachers will be able to download for free, can be used both as whole modules but also in different combinations targeted by specific year level, inquiry stage or theme.

‘I don’t think it’s been done before in the manner that we have tried to do it here.., integrating all the content we can find to support the learning activity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content and non-Indigenous content as well,’ Ms Cohen said.

Ms Reid-Loynes told Teacher that she hopes Little J & Big Cuz breaks down barriers for Indigenous children accessing school as well as for schools in building relationships with the community and getting to know and understand the knowledge and strength that Indigenous children come with.

‘I hope it breaks down those barriers more and that people won’t be scared to have a go implementing Aboriginal perspectives, because I think it will only enrich their programs,’ Ms Reid-Loynes said. ■

Further information:
Little J & Big Cuz has been developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in partnership with Ned Lander Media, NITV, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Tasmania and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

The educational resources have been developed by ACER with support from the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), Lotterywest and the Dusseldorp Forum.

For further updates about Little J & Big Cuz please visit www.littlejandbigcuz.com.au and join the mailing list.

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