Growing in harmony

Lesson overview

Learning Area:English
Age Group:Primary Upper (10-12 years) – Secondary Lower (13-14 years) – Secondary Middle (15-16 years) – Secondary Senior (16-18 years)


Students explore and respond to poetry which reflects upon our cultural diversity.


Harmony Day each year occurs on 21 March and coincides with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It builds on Australia’s successful record of community harmony and emphasises our traditional values of justice, equality, fairness and friendship.

These activities are based on poetry from a collection, Hey, I’ve got a Racist Flu! – a faint voice from Vietnamese school children by Xuan Duong, a Vietnamese Australian. The inspiration for his collection came mostly from students who have been discriminated against but also from experiences which celebrate our community harmony.


Download and distribute copies of Xuan Duong’s poem Growing in Harmony.

  • Discuss the title.  What might it mean?
  • What does community harmony mean to you?
  • Read the poem together. Discuss what the poet thinks community harmony is and draw examples from the poem.
  • Discuss how the composer has created meaning in the poem through striking and unusual features in use of language and imagery.
  • Prepare individual or group verbal responses to the poem.
  • Students create their own poetry, prose or artwork on the theme of ‘Living in Harmony’ which represents what it means to them.

Download worksheets 2, 3, and 4.

  • Divide students into groups.
  • Refer to Teacher’s notes on Readers Theatre and Choral Dramatisation.
  • Explain to students they will be giving presentations of the poems.  Encourage students to use appropriate pitch, pace, pause and emphasis when presenting their poems.
  • Groups are given their poem and prepare it for presentation to the class.
  • Students may respond verbally or visually to each poem.