17 Jun 2010

Ned Kelly and the Green Sash

Who is Ned Kelly to you - hard hearted murderer or misunderstood victim of a corrupt police force? Generally there is no grey area - most Aussies have a pretty clear idea on which side of this argument they lie.

Either way, he was once a kid who rescued a classmate from a flooded river. The boy's parents were so grateful that they awarded Ned a green hero's sash. In their eyes at least, Ned was a hero.

My grandmother was born only a couple of years after Kelly was hanged, right in the middle of Kelly country. To her still traumatised family, the Kelly family were vile killers. She perhaps unwittingly passed this sentiment on to us. I certainly agreed with her anyway.

It was only after reading Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang - a fictional account that may or may not be true - that I first thought about Kelly's early years. In the book, the green sash is a symbol of young Ned's modesty, courage and goodness.

What went wrong?

For me at least, the black and white began to take on a definite tinge of grey.

I can't wait to see Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, the new book by Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac . You only need to read Simpson and his Donkey to know that this is going to be a lovely book.

For me, it comes at a perfect time. We'll be reading Frank Clune's Ned Kelly next term for Australian history. This lovely picture book focusing on Kelly's early years and the fascinating story of the green sash should be a great addition.

Perhaps we could travel to Benalla and see the sash itself. That would be a bit of fun!

In allowing Ned to speak through his own voice in the pages of his True History, Peter Carey in effect offered him a retrial. As the jury, I'm confused. Is he a monster or not? To be honest, I don't know now what I think.

I wonder what Jemimah will decide.


  1. Hey Jeanne,
    We live in an area that Ben Ward- Thunderbolt frequented and there is a cave that was a hideout only 20 mins from here so we plan to go find it one weekend soon. I also found out that my maternal grandmother was a Ward and she was related to Thunderbolt. Don't know if that's something to brag about though!!We did the Australian Book Traveller (this was Five In A Row Style and was a nice change) at the beginning of the year and did a little family tree search.

  2. I live in a grey area with the Kellys. Don't approve, but certainly understand the social climate & discrimination that drove them. I never have been able to decide what I really think.

  3. Don't you love these types in history, it's exciting to learn your country history with your kids. I can't wait to examine Hernando Cortés with my girls. It's one of those, murderer or visionary?

    About my post, I'll publish my answer here, I don't always come back to all the comments to read and I'm still not understanding bloglines or some place where I can keep up with answers to comments.

    I believe Illich is using the words learning and TEACHING thinking of all the LEARNING that happens not in schools like self directed learning, learning from others, in cooperation, by reading, by thinking and conversing...and as opposed to the so called TEACHINGS or idea of LECTURING and thus FORCING others into what they consider to be THE KNOWLEDGE TO BE LEARNED as it happens in the institutionalized schooling that, as you say, will end then with graduation or continue into any of the consumable school 'titles'. I think he mainly denounces the institutionalization of the school and the becoming a system that perpetuates people with degrees and no valuable knowledge other than how to climb the school ladder, and those without the ability to access those institutions that give you the diplomas who can and do KNOW something but can't access those places because they don't have THE TITLE.
    It's a truly interesting book, and good for your winter!
    I've been pondering between posting about the WORLD CUP or second entry about Illich relating him to CM and Last Child in the Wood postulates. It would be a lighter post, but still in the deep category LOL.

  4. I have no idea who the Kellys were. but I am curious now. :)

    amy in peru


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