Introduction to the Teaching Resources

What is the purpose of these teacher materials?

These curriculum materials aim to:

  • increase the overall understanding in schools and more generally in the community about graffiti and its effects;
  • increase understanding about the purposes of graffiti and other, legal, ways in which these purposes can be fulfilled; and
  • give a clear message to people who might be doing graffiti or thinking about doing graffiti that these activities are illegal.


What are the key messages of the materials?

The key messages of the materials are:

  • Everyone contributes to the community;
  • Our behaviour impacts on others – graffiti impacts on home owners, businesses, the person on the street and the whole of the community;
  • There are consequences of our actions for ourselves, our family, and people who are hurt or affected by our behaviours;
  • There are ways in which we can show respect for others – rules and laws codify some of these; and
  • We can choose our behaviour – there are options for what we do.

These curriculum materials encourage students to consider the perspectives of others and to find ways in which they can participate positively in their school and community.


What curriculum outcomes can be achieved by using these materials?

These curriculum materials are based on the values enunciated in the Curriculum Framework for Kindergarten to Year 12 Education in Western Australia and the National Goals for Schooling. They include:

  •  An appreciation of individual difference – everyone contributes to the community, everyone deserves to be respected;
  • Respect for the community and the property of others; and
  • Active citizenship – everyone needs to be responsible; it is our individual and community responsibility to contribute to the community positively.

The curriculum materials are written for the Early Childhood, Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence phases of schooling. Each unit is written with a slightly different focus and consists of a series of learning experiences that enable students to make connections within and between the learning outcomes described in the Curriculum Framework for Kindergarten to Year 12 Education in Western Australia. Links are made to the overarching learning outcomes, values outcomes and learning outcomes in relevant learning areas.

The learning experiences emphasise small group activities. Collaborative learning encourages students to value everyone’s contribution, reduces prejudice and develops positive interactions.

Learning outcomes will only be demonstrated if students have the opportunity to do so. Teachers need to think carefully about the ways in which students may demonstrate the outcomes, accommodating students’ learning styles, abilities and intelligences. The assessment rubrics will support teachers in ensuring that students have an opportunity to demonstrate the outcomes.


Why would I include a topic about graffiti in my curriculum?

Graffiti is a topic of everyday significance to students, business owners, local councils and the wider community. It is evident in our environment wherever we look and civic leaders and legislators take it very seriously.

Different people respond in different ways when they see graffiti. Some see it as ugly, others as a sign of neglect. Some see political and social statements, others anti-authority. Some people feel unsafe, others see it as a crime and wonder what other crimes people might commit. Some see graffiti as art, others as rubbish. Some don’t like it in public spaces, others only object when graffiti appears on their fence.

No matter what our personal responses are, the fact is that applying graffiti to a surface without the owner’s permission is vandalism and is against the law. 

A great deal of time, money and effort is expended in getting rid of graffiti (see Graffiti Hurts Australia). Working groups set directions for governments at all levels, people are encouraged to report graffiti and there are penalties for acts of graffiti vandalism. WA has a 48 hour rapid removal standard, supported by a coordinated effort to ‘cool down hot spots’ and training in safely handling chemicals to remove graffiti. Architects and builders are encouraged to design environments and landscapes to prevent graffiti, including the use of surveillance, lighting, wall surfaces and the strategic location of plants.


What is the difference between ‘graffiti vandalism’ and ‘urban art’?

Language is important and powerful. It conveys meaning, intent, attitudes and values. The language included in this curriculum has been developed in consultation with the State Graffiti Taskforce.

‘Graffiti vandalism’ is defined as ‘writing, drawing or symbols applied to any surface without the permission of the property owner’.   It includes tagging, etching, stencils, throw-ups and pieces. 

Where graffiti is done in a legal space, it is referred to as ‘urban art’.


Would the students I am teaching do graffiti vandalism?

Graffiti has been a means of communication for thousands of years. There is no ‘typical’ profile for a person who does graffiti. Most graffiti is done by teenagers, but they can be from stable backgrounds, with loving families and good social networks as well as from unstable backgrounds (Goodbye Graffiti Website, 2011).

The purposes for which people do graffiti are also diverse. For some it is a political statement, for others it is a form of artistic expression. For some it is about seeking individual identity, for others it is about seeking acceptance within a group. 

Some research suggests that at least 50% of young people will never do graffiti vandalism (Martin, 2003, 2005). The knowledge, understandings, attitudes and values in these materials will support them in using positive peer pressure.

There are another 40% of young people who might be prevented from committing graffiti vandalism because they have become more aware of the impacts and consequences of graffiti vandalism on people who matter to them and the wider community.

There are probably also 10% of young people who will find glory in the title of ‘graffiti vandal’. These materials are unlikely to change their attitudes.

In speaking about graffiti vandalism, we need to be careful that we do not provide motivation for young people to perform acts of graffiti vandalism.


Are there cultural sensitivities in talking about graffiti?

Since tags are connected with names and nicknames, some of the units talk about names. In some cultures a name cannot be used when someone with that name dies. In others, names are written in a different order, or the name that someone is known by is different from their given name. Talking to representatives of the community/communities will be helpful in finding a culturally appropriate way to deal with issues related to names.


Are the materials suitable for students with additional needs?

A wide variety of learning experiences has been developed in this package and, as much as possible, experiences have been written in a way which is inclusive of all students. Even so, the particular needs of a group of students will require modification of some activities, or may even prompt teachers to avoid those experiences altogether. Teachers may need to change the:

  • expected outcomes;
  • learning environment;
  • learning experiences;
  • equipment being used; and
  • assistance available to complete the tasks.


How do I use the materials?

Teachers may choose to:

  • implement all of the experiences within the unit;
  • focus only on one topic within the unit;
  • select experiences from different topics; or
  • adapt any ideas to create new opportunities for learning.

The learning experiences are written using Kath Murdoch’s inquiry process (Murdoch, 1998):

  • Tuning in – orientation to the topic and a reflection on what is already known;
  • Finding out – investigations involving interviewing, reading, viewing and activities;
  • Sorting out – analysing the information gathered and thinking more deeply about it;
  • Going further – extrapolating from this information to see the consequences and applications of it; and
  • Reflecting – working out who needs to know what we now know and how we might tell them.

It is recommended that all steps of the inquiry process are used so that students have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in different ways and provide multiple sources and kinds of evidence of their learning.

Except as permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 no part of this website may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All inquiries should be made to the copyright owner. 


What resources do I need?

Throughout the materials there are references to on-line sites that have images, research studies, writings of graffiti vandals and urban artists, news stories and perspectives of government departments and communities from around the world.

Images might be downloaded or printed.  A bank of images can be a useful resource for many of the activities.

Some schools have reported that sites have been blocked by their systems. This is because the language associated with much graffiti vandalism often automatically prevents access. Where possible, government or media websites have been chosen.

A search through Google Images will provide many more examples. Your school IT technician or specialist might be able to help you to access images you require.

It may be possible for you or your students to collect your own bank of images of graffiti vandalism and urban art in your community.


How can I assess student’s learning?

Extensive assessment rubrics have been provided for each topic. These are suggestions only. You might decide to focus on one or more particular areas. It is unlikely that anyone would use all of them for any given topic. You might prefer to design your own.

Students in the trial of the package developed images and videos that may provide other ideas as part of the introductory pathway for each unit.  This evaluation is useful for teachers in deciding what topics to focus on with this group of students. The same questions may be used after the unit is undertaken to provide another source of information about students’ learning. (See Evaluation Framework).