Friday, 17 June 2016

Aboriginal learning

Was Australia invaded or settled? What's the difference between Aboriginal, Koori and Indigenous people?
White teachers, who are often anxious about teaching Indigenous cultures and students, will soon benefit from a new online resource which tackles these questions.
The Australian-first initiative will also help teachers identify and respond to racism, understand their own prejudices and boost their expectations of Indigenous students.
"If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are stereotyped as troublesome and unable to learn, this is doing them, and you as the teacher, a disservice," it says.
The tool will be launched at an Australian Council of Deans of Education forum on Friday, and coincides with its calls to lift the recruitment and retention of Indigenous teachers. Only 1.2 per cent of teachers are Indigenous, compared to 4.9 per cent of students in Australian schools.
"Most teachers are a little tentative about engaging with this space," said Peter Anderson, the chair of the Australian Indigenous Lecturers in Initial Teacher Education Association.
"They don't want to cause any offence, or say the wrong thing."
Dr Anderson, who helped create the resource and is the director of Indigenous education and leadership at Monash University, spends a lot of time undoing what his students learnt at school.
"They always talk about Aboriginal culture as something that is in the past," he said.
"But our culture is very dynamic and living. You just have to look at the arts and literature, and in Melbourne we have a vibrant political culture of Aboriginal people. It is rescripting this narrative."
Some of students think that all Aboriginal people live in the Northern Territory, he said.
"But most Aboriginal people live in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne."
The invasion versus settlement debate – which was recently reignited by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who agreed with the description of invasion – is also addressed in the resource.
Dr Anderson said it was important to give students both perspectives.
"Teachers need to have nuanced conversations with students."
Peter Buckskin, the project leader of the federally-funded More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative, said teachers needed to be taught about racism.
"You cannot say there is no racism to a black man. Don't call it bullying, call if for what it is, racism," he said.
Professor Buckskin said he spent most of his time at school standing outside the classroom, rather than sitting inside it.
"If anything went wrong in the classroom it was Buckskin's fault," he said.
Teachers need to address their own prejudices, he said.
"Aboriginal education workers in schools talk about how white teachers talk about Aboriginal kids in the staffroom. And no one challenges it."
Tips for talking about Indigenous cultures
Use capitals.
If you are referring to Indigenous or Aboriginal Australians, you should use a capital "I" or "A" . A lower case "i" or "a" refers to indigenous or aboriginal peoples anywhere in the world.
Invasion or settlement?
Discuss both perspectives.
Koori/Indigenous/Aboriginal or First Nations' People?
It comes down to personal preference.

I did a PD on this matter last year and it was very valuable. We were told that Koori was a Victorian term and Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders would be puzzled if you referred to them in that way.i would have loved to have followed it up with some teaching ideas.

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