One of our grade 7 Humanities teachers, Dan McWilliam, just finished a project with his grade 7 students. In order to understand the concept of perspective in historical accounts, Dan had his students re-write a ‘picture book’ on colonialization from an alternate perspective.
Dan used the book “The Rabbits,” written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan. “The Rabbits” is an incredible visual story of a group of rabbits (the colonizers) who arrive in a new land, spreading their worldview over the native marsupials who reside there. The art work is stunning, and weaves in fantastic imagery of western philosophy and expansionism.
The original book,”The Rabbits” is told from the point of view of the native marsupials, and so Dan wanted his students to explore the motivations of the colonizing rabbits, so he had his students retell the story from their alternate perspective.
Working in pairs, the students were each assignment one page out of the original book. Students then had to imagine how the events on the particular page might be retold from the perspective of the colonizers, rather than the ‘natives.’ Dan scanned pages from the original book, and the students remixed pieces with other images they found. The students used Abode Firework to create the new pages, and then Dan assembled the pages, and had one book published from each of his two classes.
Through the re-telling of the story, both from the rabbits’ perspective, as well as through the lens of Canadian History, the students included historical details relating to the fur trade, the signing of land treaties and residential schools. The students creatively used historical images from events in Canadian history, and using Fireworks, replaced the heads of the characters with the heads of rabbits and marsupials. In doing so, the students were able to weave in historical understanding and demonstrate an ability to retell historical events from alternative perspectives.
Here’s a digital slideshow showing one of the two classes retold storybook: