How Is There Animals Here? Essay

6447 words - 26 pages

Relationship to place:positioning Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives in classroom pedagogiesNeil HarrisonDepartment of EducationMacquarie UniversityNew South Wales 2109Australianeil.harrison@mq.edu.auMaxine GreenfieldAboriginal Education and Training DirectorateDepartment of Education and TrainingNew South WalesAustraliaMaxine.Greenfield1@det.nsw.edu.auAbstractThis project is based on research conducted with twelve schools in New South Wales, Australia. It examines how each school incorporates Aboriginal perspectives in its Kindergarten to Year 6 program with a view to identifying some principles of quality practice. As we interviewed teachers in these schools, it became clear that there is considerable confusion over the difference between Aboriginal perspectives and Aboriginal knowledge with both concepts being used interchangeably to teach syllabus content and information about Aboriginal people. We began to look for ways in which Aboriginal knowledge might be produced in schools and classrooms as other than a commodification of Aboriginal cultures and histories. We found that the essence of Aboriginal knowledge and identity performed through the telling of local stories and histories characterises the very learning that is most difficult to teach.IntroductionThe Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEECDYA, 2008, p. 8) identifies the need for all Australian children to 'understand and acknowledge the value of Indigenous cultures and possess the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute to, and benefit from, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians'. The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2010) has acknowledged the importance of reconciliation and is currently writing Indigenous perspectives into the national curriculum 'to ensure that all young Australians have the opportunity to learn about, acknowledge and respect the history and culture of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders'. The Department of Education in each of the states and territories of Australia requires teachers to embed Aboriginal perspectives across all Key Learning Areas (KLAs) from Kindergarten to Year 6 (Harrison, 2008). Of course, these goals are not new; they have had a mixed reception in Australian schools over the last 15 years (Harrison, 2010, 2007; Konigsberg and Collard, 2002; Craven, 1996, 1998).In many cases, teachers openly admit that they know nothing about Aboriginal people and therefore question how they can be expected to include Aboriginal perspectives in their programs (New South Wales Department of Education and Training and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated, 2004). Others argue that non-Aboriginal teachers should not be teaching about Aboriginal cultures, knowledge and identity because the children really only learn a set of generalisations about Aboriginality (Pearson, 2009; Nakata, 2002). Nakata (2007) consistently identifies a...

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