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Assignment 3 - Written Reflection & Critical Analysis on Incorporating Indigenous

Perspectives in the Classroom

The terms Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous used in this assignment refer to the Aboriginal and Torres

Strait Islander peoples of Australia, acknowledging them as the original owners of the land.

Incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into all areas and levels of schooling

is vital for achieving holistic education outcomes in Australia (Northern Territory Government:

Department of Education and Training, 2010). The importance of teaching Indigenous perspectives in

the classroom will be discussed, as an inclusive attitude and pedagogy entrenched with Indigenous

culture and history is required by primary school educators. The Melbourne Declaration on

Educational Goals for Young Australians highlights the significance and relevance of teaching

Indigenous perspectives in the classroom. It states that appropriate education is vital for developing a

society that “… values Australia’s Indigenous cultures as a key part of the nation’s history, present

and future” (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training and Youth Affairs

[MCEECDYA], 2008, p. 4). It is important that teachers are familiar with effective teaching strategies

to assist children in reaching learning outcomes, no matter their socio-economic background (The

Department of Education & Training, 2005).

Including Indigenous perspectives in the classroom is fundamental for students to understand the

issues facing the Indigenous population in 21st century Australia. Teachers need to help students

understand that respect and education are essential, valuable tools for promoting reconciliation

between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Queensland College of Teachers, 2015).

Students with an accurate understanding of historical and societal issues will be better equipped for

providing future help to close the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with respect

to education, health, and human rights benefits. Embedding Indigenous perspectives in curriculum

areas demonstrates that the school community is open to providing for the needs of Indigenous

students and improving the school’s educational foundation (Harrison & Greenfield, 2011). It is

important for teachers to respect Australia’s cultural history and heritage as this will help develop a

genuine care for implementing Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum.

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Implementing Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum will ensure that the students learn cultural

inclusiveness (Northern Territory Government: Department of Education and Training, 2010). The

inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in the classroom improves opportunities for developing equity in

Australia; however, it does not capture true Indigenous culture, ways of learning, spirituality, and

connection with the land. Nakata (2007) highlights the injustice of having non-Indigenous people

develop curricula utilised for all cultural groups. It is also essential for teachers to identify which

Indigenous knowledge and perspectives are important and appropriate to incorporate in curriculum

teaching (Green, 2010). The subject matter will affect how teachers develop teaching strategies to

appropriately implement Indigenous perspectives in the curriculum.

Teaching strategies must be developed to effectively incorporate Indigenous perspectives accross all

curriculum areas. Teachers should aim to broaden student’s societal views and challenge mindsets if

they see that some students are culturally biased (Northern Territory Government: Department of

Education and Training, 2010). For the purpose of this assignment, the curriculum area of History will

be used as a model for implementing teaching strategy examples. Incorporating Indigenous

perspectives in the curriculum area of history will require professional knowledge about how students

learn and a deep understanding of the subject being taught (The State of Queensland: Department of

Education, Training and Employment, 2013). The impact of colonisation has caused the Indigenous

culture to be marginalised, making it an important historical aspect to teach children. A future teacher

should emphasise to the class that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, cultures, and

students are valued in the classroom. This approach will demonstrate the importance of completely

abolishing labels; no student should have to feel that belonging to a marginalised culture makes it less

important. Teaching students about the first contact between cultures would be an appropriate place to

start teaching Australia’s history. Using a case study approach and the use of I.T., teachers can engage

children in real-world scenarios and situations; this strategy will enable children to engage in

historical research and reflective discussions with their peers (University of New South Wales, 2014).

An example would be to show children videos that re-enact the first landing from different

perspectives. A teacher educating students on Australian history in a lower primary classroom should

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utilise the teaching strategy of simulation, where students will practice experiential learning, to

develop an emotional understanding and begin to identify with the children from the Stolen

Generation through role-play (University of New South Wales, 2014). This can be achieved, for

example, by splitting students into groups and giving each group unfamiliar ways to behave with

foreign rules that must be followed (Crawford & Tantiprasut, 2003). Students would have to act

according to the set of instructions which will prompt them to understand how it feels to have

everything familiar stripped away. This promotes an empathetic approach to historical concepts in a

practical manner whilst encouraging evaluative and critical thinking in students (University of New

South Wales, 2014). Another example for utilising simulation as a teaching strategy could be

implemented through instructing a child to leave their desk and ask another child replace them. The

child who has ‘lost’ their desk to another can describe how it feels to lose their familiar space and

have someone in their personal area and using their stationary. If children can understand these

aspects on a small, personal scale, they can begin to visualise what it feels like to lose home, land, and

therefore also the ability to be self-sufficient to obtain food, shelter and clothing (Crawford &

Tantiprasut, 2003).

Strategies such as teacher guided discussions can be useful when teaching students about the

differences between Standard Australian English (SAE) and Indigenous languages. Historical aspects

of Indigenous language can be seen integrated into the English language of Australia. Words such as

kookaburra, dingo, billabong and barramundi are all borrowed Indigenous words (Australian Bureau

of Statistics, 2013). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are an important part of the

Indigenous culture; language is how Indigenous people preserve and pass down their history,

upholding their connection with the land, laws, ancestors and culture (Australian Bureau of Statistics,

2013). Guided discussion to teach this area would include educating students on how Indigenous

people maintain their history and culture; through the telling of ‘stories’ in Indigenous language. A

strategy for educating student about the loss of Indigenous languages could be portrayed through a

'Language Snap' game (Crawford & Tantiprasut, 2003). Students must create snap cards with the

names of Indigenous words used in SAE, saying the word on the card instead of ‘snap’ (Crawford &

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Tantiprasut, 2003). According to the University of New South Wales (2014), asserting a ‘student-

centred’ pedagogical approach to teaching will be highly valuable for student’s learning; what

students do to learn is just as important as what teachers do to teach. This approach should be kept in

mind when implementing teaching strategies in the classroom.

To communicate Indigenous perspectives, educators must implement effective teaching strategies in

accordance with the guidelines of federal, state and school key learning areas and policies. For pre-

service teachers, attending practicum is important for engaging in classroom setting and implementing

a diverse range of skills. Professional experience will be vital for pre-service teacher’s learning, which

will improve on pedagogical beliefs, and put theories into practice (Herbert, 2012). It is the teacher’s

job to ensure that adequate planning, evaluation and implementation of curriculum materials includes

Indigenous perspectives to help develop the classroom ethos (Queensland Government: Department

of Education and Training, 2011). Pre-service teachers may also witness the use of programs in their

practicum classroom. Incorporating programs such as Chris Sarra’s Stronger Smarter program will

allow for critical elements in practice to be improved; the aim of the program is to “…unlock[s] the

belief and confidence of teachers and parents to give all children the opportunity to be the best they

can be” (Stronger Smarter, n.d.). Including lesson plans that have been centred on local the school’s

local Indigenous people and history will allow the teaching strategies to be related to local cultures

and Indigenous values. This strategy will allow Indigenous students to feel culturally included

(Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2014). As the implementation of

Indigenous perspectives develop, teachers should collaborate with colleagues to utilise local

Indigenous knowledge and develop effective teaching strategies through a whole-school approach

(Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2014).

Teachers must effectively implement Indigenous perspective and ensure that Aboriginal and Torres

Strait Islander students are receiving adequate support and reaching academic standards. Teachers will

need to promote equity and emphasize the importance of respecting and acknowledging one another’s

perspectives so that the classroom can be a place free of preconception, putting the focus on creating

an environment where students learn and grow together (Queensland Government: Department of

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Education and Training, 2011). In order to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders receive

paramount support in the classroom, teachers must also have methods in place to assist Indigenous

students in the classroom; a comprehensive understanding of the importance of cultural and historical

awareness in relation to teaching Indigenous students will be beneficial (Queensland Government:

Department of Education and Training, 2011). Teachers must ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander students are receiving the same benefits and support as non-Indigenous students and are

achieving a high academic standard. A framework developed by the Queensland Government called

Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools (EATSIPS) can be used as a

tool by future teachers to help them “…build long lasting, meaningful relationships with Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander people to improve Indigenous student learning outcomes, and to provide all

Australian students with an understanding of, and respect for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

traditional and contemporary cultures” (Queensland Government: Department of Education and

Training, 2011). The EATSIPS framework provides teachers with strategies to help develop

understanding in Indigenous students of how contemporary attitudes and perceptions are constructed

whilst fostering a sense of identity in Indigenous students (Queensland Government: Department of

Education and Training, 2011). With many negative views on Indigenous culture still existing in

modern Australian, it can be concluded that teachers should provide action plans for Indigenous

students, giving advice on how to respond to destructive stereotyping and attitudes. A future teacher

will need to work on the retention of Indigenous students in schools, educating students on the

importance of health and education since lower education rates contribute to the ‘gap’ between

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,

2011).

Teachers should aim to create a safe and supportive classroom environment for all students. It could

be useful to have an area in the classroom, or room outside the classroom, for Indigenous students to

go to if they feel the need to be with others from their culture and in an area that resonates with their

spiritual connection to the land. Learning support can be provided through ensuring Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander students have a personal Education Inclusion Plan (EIP) which will list their

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individual needs and family cultural background. It is important for teachers to provide adequate

feedback for and report on students with English as their second language (The State of Queensland:

Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2013).

Incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into all areas and levels of schooling

will ensure that students receive an inclusive education. It is vital that teachers acknowledge the

different cultures in Australia, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous students must learn about

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the classroom (MCEECDYA, 2008).

Implementing age-appropriate teaching strategies will provide students in reaching learning outcomes

and develop a deep understanding of Indigenous perspectives. Special care should be given to

Indigenous students in the clasroom so that Australia’s education can move towards becoming more

equitable for all sudents, no matter their culture and background, developing students that will

become positive contributors to society.

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References

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Feature article 3: languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander peoples - a uniquely Australian heritage. Retrieved from

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article42009%

E2%80%9310?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2009%9610&nu

m=&view=

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2014). Australian professional standards

for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-

teachers/standards/list

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander people: an overview. Retrieved from

http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737418955

Crawford, J., & Tantiprasut, L. (2003). Australian Aboriginal culture. Greenwood, Australia: R.I.C.

Publications.

Green, B. (2010). Rethinking the representation problem in curriculum inquiry. Journal of

Curriculum Studies, 42(4), 451-469. doi:10.1080/00220270903494998.

Harrison, N., & Greenfield, M. (2011). Relationship to place: positioning Aboriginal knowledge and

perspectives in classroom pedagogies. Retrieved from

http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/primary/hsie/prolearn/reading/Relations

hip_to_place_Doc1.doc.

Herbert, J. (2012). Delivering the promise: empowering teachers to empower students. In K. Price

(Ed.), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education (pp. 35-51). Port Melbourne,

Australia: Cambridge University Press.

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Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). (2008).

Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from

http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/national_declaration_on_the_educational_go

als_for_young_australians.pdf

Nakata, M. (2007). Disciplining the savages, savaging the disciplines. Canberra, Australia: Aboriginal

Studies Press.

Northern Territory Government: Department of Education and Training. (2010). Embedding

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in schools. Retrieved from

http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/15228/EmbeddingAboriginalPers

pectivesInSchools.pdf

Queensland College of Teachers. (2015). Elaboration of Priority Areas. Retrieved from

http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/initial-teacher-education-

resources/guide_to_accreditation_process_elaborations_of_priority_areas.pdf

Queensland Government: Department of Education and Training. (2011). Embedding Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander perspectives in schools. Retrieved from

http://indigenous.education.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/eatsips-

docs/eatsips_2011.pdf

Stronger Smarter. (n.d.). Our Approach. Retrieved from

http://strongersmarter.com.au/about/approach/

The Department of Education & Training. (2005). Professional learning in effective schools: the

seven principles of highly effective professional learning. Retrieved from

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/teachers/profdev/proflearningeffectivesc

h.pdf

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The State of Queensland: Department of Education, Training and Employment. (2013). Capability

framework: teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners. Retrieved from

https://indigenousportal.eq.edu.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/eald-capability-framework.pdf.

University of New South Wales. (2014). Teaching approaches and strategies. Retrieved from

University of New South Wales: Teaching: https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/teaching-

approaches-and-strategies

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