Birds of paradise are found in Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands. They are so attractive that their appearance once made them the target of skin hunters, who decimated some species.
It was in the summer of 1962 that David Attenborough and a film crew of 5 men embarked on an expedition into the deep rainforests to see if they could film the illusive bird.
They called upon my great uncle Malcolm Griffin (a Dunghutti man) who had been posted in the mountains ofPNG as an Australian police/community officer.
He had been working closely with tribes and communities for a number of years and enjoyed his work. David Attenborough asked if he and some tribal elders would accompany them through the dense mountainous terrain on the 10 day expedition. One year later David Attenborough published a book about the trip. He spoke very highly of my great uncle “The expedition was a great success, but this is only due to the expertise of Malcolm and tribal elders.” “The wealth of knowledge, respect and effective communication between Malcolm and the tribal elders was astounding.”
I enjoyed telling this story to my students as I could share some of my family’s history and it was great to see them engaged and wanting to know more.
Here's Mr Griffen in his classroom at Wilcannia Central. This year he's been working with 8ways, which he has rebadged "Ways we learn".
He has changed the language according to his students' understandings shared with him in classroom discussion:
- Do, Thiink
- New way
- Watch first
- Show your mob