The Multiplier Effect

“The mark you leave on people … will endure and extend beyond your sight and beyond your reach”

Marcy Blochowiak

In Australia, a cup of coffee in a café costs $3-$5. Each dollar I spend on my coffee has a multiplier effect on the economy and the community. It contributes to the livelihood of the employees and owners of the café, suppliers, manufacturers and producers and pays tax that supports society. That’s the multiplier effect.

The inconsiderate driver, the snarling service person or rude co-worker who triggers stress may also cause a multiplier effect with negative outcomes.

But in Narrogin, a rural community, south-east of Perth, Western Australia, a very positive multiplier effect was released when a dedicated group of educators, artists, Indigenous people and students took action to prevent the Noongar language from dying.

The Noongar are Indigenous Australian people who traditionally inhabited a vast area of southwest Australia. Though there are around 30,000 Noongar people today and they are the largest cultural group of Australian Indigenous people, only about 250 are fluent in their language, largely due to the past practice of removing children from Indigenous families and placing them on missions where they were taught English and not allowed to speak their language.

Narrogin Senior High School teamed with the Community Arts Network Western Australia (CANWA) in a project to inspire Aboriginal students to learn the Noongar language in a way that was engaging and enjoyable – they made a hip hop music video!

With support from local artists, the students learned the language through songs and stories. The project – choreographing, performing and filming the hip-hop video clip, culminated in a show in the state capital for family and friends.

Deputy Principle, Maxine Clark said that Aboriginal students were often disengaged from the learning process. Some previously found it hard to listen for 50 minutes and take notes in class. Social problems, including incarceration and youth suicide are prevalent in communities where students are disengaged.

Pilar Kasat, CANWA managing director, said that loss of the language also means loss of cultural knowledge. This approach effectively engaged students, with great results.

While the project centred around teaching lndigenous students their own language in a novel way, the multiplier effect released other outcomes, including:

  • Improved school attendance by 10%
  • Increased ability to learn in the classroom
  • A more positive attitude and improved performance at school
  • Pride in Aboriginal culture and heritage
  • Self-belief, positive self-image and sense of achievement

The project enabled the students to celebrate who they are and demonstrated that the school values them and their culture. It allowed students to develop a positive self-image as a student contributing to the school and research shows that when students feel comfortable at school and have a relationship with their teacher it has a major positive impact on their performance at school.

This project demonstrates the power of the multiplier effect. It provided students with people who believed in them, gave them an opportunity to shine, and a way to develop and achieve. They were able to raise the Noongar profile and display their culture in a positive light. This in turn influenced their attitudes about themselves, their success at school and their future in the community.

It will not end there.

Excellent mentoring, like the leadership, role modelling and engagement demonstrated in the Noongar language project also has a multiplier effect. You may do much more with mentoring than you ever suspect.

References

ABC’s 7.30 Report video 

Community Arts Network Western Australia

Narrogin Senior High School 

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About Ann Rolfe

Ann Rolfe is internationally recognised as Australia's leading specialist in mentoring, and is available for speaking, training and consulting. Here Ann shares her knowledge and allows you to ask your most pressing questions about mentoring.

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