Trip helps teachers experience Asian culture

Three Illawarra high school teachers have spent the past two weeks exploring the schools, temples, art galleries and streets of Indonesia.

Accompanied by 20 other NSW teachers on a Department of Education and Communities trip, Illawarra Sports High's Jennifer Jurman-Hilton and Dapto High's Michelle Cooper and Sharon Moran met Indonesian ministers and immersed themselves in a culture they will soon have to teach to their students.

Similar trips have been held in China, Korea and Japan to prepare teachers for the compulsory Asian studies section of the new national curriculum, to be introduced to NSW schools in 2014.

Ms Cooper, an art teacher, said experiencing Indonesian art and architecture close up was an invaluable experience and would benefit her students as early as this term.

"You can't get this experience through the internet, because no matter how great Skype and everything is, meeting people in their own backyard is where real relationships are formed," she said.

The teachers will use their trip experience to develop online lessons that will be used by all NSW teachers once the Australian curriculum is introduced next year.

"Many NSW teachers have been brought up in a fully Western tradition, so - as an art teacher - I learnt about Western art, and it was really good to go and learn first hand about some eastern art and traditions," Ms Cooper said.

"I can now pass this knowledge on to other teachers and my students and tell them what it was actually like to be there."

Ms Jurman-Hilton, whose school has already been named an Access Asia School by the Federal Government, said it was vital for Australian students to learn the culture and language of their largest close neighbour.

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