Tahj's story - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

The themes in this film: aboriginality, culture, community, connections and high potential across domains, need to be considered when building genuine partnerships between school and community. This film explores the relationship between father and son, and how, like all parents, Roy wants the best outcomes for his son.

A key to success is when Aboriginal people have high aspirations and expectations of Aboriginal learners. In this film, Roy and Tahj both acknowledge their strengths. The traits that Tahj describes in himself meet many of the characteristics of a high potential and gifted learner. By viewing this film one can gain a deeper understanding of how to work with the Aboriginal community to support the wellbeing, achievement and aspirations of high potential and gifted Aboriginal students.

Tahj's story - film

Transcript - Tahj's story (8 minutes 33 seconds)

[On screen text] We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land that is featured in the creation of this film.

We would also like to pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.


[On screen text] Tahj’s story HIGH POTENTIAL and GIFTED EDUCATION.

[On screen text] Tahj – Student, Evans River K-12 School

Tahj: I'm Tahj, I'm 14, go to Evans River K-12 School and I live in Evans Head.

Roy: My mum's from a small western New South Wales town called Peak Hill. It's probably about 90 kilometres west of Dubbo.

[On screen text] Roy – Tahj’s father

My dad is from a small Aboriginal community called Tabulum. So, I grew up on an Aboriginal reserve like my dad did. And I haven't really spent too much time out at Peak Hill, so this is my home. Up here in the Bundjalung, my tribe is Bundjalung and my mum's ... my mum's side of the family are Wiradjuri. We're from the Clarence River. So, the Clarence River starts up at Woodenbong up there and goes out to sea down at Yamba. So, we've got connections all the way along. It's a feeling that you get a lot of the times you can feel your connection there before you even actually know it. So yeah, it's ... it's a weird, but it's a very comforting feeling as well.

Tahj: When I was little, I kind of have just been dancing my whole life, but it only really started getting a bit more serious in Year 7. When Bangarra came down to, came up to Lismore and we did a workshop, and I didn't really know what it was. But then they said that I have the opportunity to come to Sydney and do dancing for Schools Spectacular.

Roy: And we were really, really surprised because he was so young at the time, and they don't normally pick up 13-year-olds to join the Bangarra Dance Company, but obviously they saw something in Tahj because he's always been naturally gifted at the artistic side of things, like with dance. So, we didn't want to pressure him into doing it, so we kind of let him decide. First of all, whether he wanted to, because it was such, it was going to be a big workload and he did kind of struggle when rehearsing started because it was just such a huge workload at the time. I mean, he hadn't never done anything like that before. But, yeah, full credit. He stuck it out, got through it, and it's really developed him into being the person he is now - really, really brought him out of his shell.

Tahj: And then I did that for two years and then COVID. And then it was all over, well, most of it was over like digital technology, and I didn't really want to do that because I'm more of a hands-on person and it would have been harder for me.

Tahj: Dad used to play for the Rabbitohs when he was 19. I play rugby league for Magpies, which is Maclean, and I've only played about four games with them.

Roy: A lot of his teammates and cousins that have been playing for the last five or six years. So, you know that Tahj is pretty much at the same level as they are, and even though it's only his first year. So yeah, he's so you know, he can only get better the more he does it and it'll be…it's going to be interesting to see actually, how he goes in the next two, two or three years.

Tahj: I'm fast. So, when I first started, I played winger and fullback, but I've moved up into five-eighth and I think I'm going to start playing centre pretty soon.

Roy: In the Aboriginal Community, rugby league, is pretty big. It's huge. It's an outlet for everyone and teaches, teaches, you know, it's not just about the sport. You know, it's about getting together, family, teaches people social skills, teamwork.

Tahj: So, football is pretty important to our mob because it helps us connect and meet new people. And we can always meet each other at football games and have a game with each other and have a laugh when we're done.

Tahj: When I was little, mum used to take me to the skate park and I used to ride scooters when I was really little, and then I don't even know how I got into skateboarding, but it's become an obsession and I've been doing it pretty much every day.

Tahj: Skateboarding, you have to be really creative. I've done tricks that I didn't even know were a trick and then I googled it and it was. And you kind of have to think outside the box and do stuff that you haven't seen before. That's kind of what makes it unique. It feels good to be to be able to do stuff that not many people can. But there's things that I can do that other people can. But then along with that, I can do other stuff that they can do and that they can't do. Yeah, I'm a pretty fast learner. It's kind of weird because let's say me and my friend always, well let's say we start at the same time. In a week's time, I'd be more, I'd have more progression than them because I probably would spend a lot more time doing it and thinking about it outside.

Roy: He's a perfectionist as well. He gets really obsessed with stuff, so he'll go months and months and months just being absolutely overly obsessive with a certain thing.

Tahj: My ideal school would probably be ... you go to school for the normal school hours, but out through the day you kind of have ... the option to be more flexible for what you want.

[on screen text] 21 years earlier…

Roy: So, when I was younger in our community, we had, like we did, we used to travel around the Northern Rivers doing cultural dances. So, we danced. I danced as a young kid as well up until the end of high school. So, I was in Year 10 at the time, I think it was about seven guys from our community got asked to come down, go down to Sydney and dance at the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony.

Roy: I probably didn't realise it at the time but looking back now it was a huge opportunity and such a ... such a historic moment for Australia, you know. But yeah, to be involved in that was unbelievable. It was, yeah, it was crazy, you know, so memories that that'll hold dear to me for the rest of my life yeah.

Roy: Made some good friends out of it, so yeah, it's probably, probably the best, the biggest thing that; and I try to pass that on to Tahj as well, just with sport and everything he does in general. You know, it's not the highs and lows that you experience, just the people you meet.

[title on screen] Find the talent

[title on screen] Develop the potential

[title on screen] Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2021 NSW Department of Education

End of transcript.

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • Research by Craven & Magson (2014) revealed schools can make a difference for Aboriginal students through strong community relationships. How did Roy and Tahj use community to build their strong relationships? How can you build relationships with your Aboriginal families to implement the centrality of Aboriginal cultural spaces and Aboriginal people to the work of your school?
  • Tahj demonstrates high potential in both the creative and physical domains, both of which appear in Gagné’s’ Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (2009). Through a talent development program, Tahj has the ability to turn this potential into high performance. Using Gagné’s’ catalysts, how could you utilise his intrapersonal traits and take advantage of the school and community environment to enable his success, and the success of other students?
  • What professional learning opportunities do teachers need to understand Aboriginal conceptions of giftedness and local Aboriginal perspectives on ability, talent and achievement?

For teachers:

  • As a teacher how could you prioritise and embed Aboriginal perspectives and values into your classroom curriculum? Consider how you could do this across all the domains of potential.
  • Schools can make a difference for Aboriginal students, where the students can establish relationships with their teachers. How would you set about establishing a relationship with someone like Tahj?
  • According to Françoys Gagné, when looking for high potential in the creative domain we need to look at the ease and speed of learning when compared to other students the same age. How was this demonstrated in the film?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Assess and identify

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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