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Development of Australian and Aboriginal Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 927 words Published: 24th Jul 2018

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Australian education had a drastic change in the 1960’s, cultural differences became more integrated into the school curriculum. During this time Aboriginal education moved from assimilation to integration. There was the belief that Aboriginals being exposed to ‘white’ Australian education, would allow them to integrate into mainstream Australian culture. In the past Indigenous students were looked down on and expectations weren’t very high. However we are now trying to ‘close the gap’ between ‘white’ Australian and Indigenous learning (Price, 2015). After watching the video, Djidi Djidi (SBS On Demand, 2011), the video shows Aboriginal and White Australian children playing and learning together. They are learning Aboriginal dancing and native language as well. Even though their NAPLAN (National Assessment Program for Learning and Numeracy) results are low, their participation results are at 88%, which is outstanding. This shows that Aboriginal children thrive in a learning environment that acknowledges their culture and allows them to have a sense of belonging.

Education is a key factor that is known to build resilience and has potential to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children. Improving rates of participation and attainment of Indigenous people in the Education system are key strategies to improve their learning, however closing the gap on Aboriginal learning doesn’t come without its barriers. (Educating Aboriginal Children, 2016).

Some of the reasons that contribute to Aboriginal children not succeeding at school, compared to non-indigenous children, are their accessibility to schools (particularly in remote areas), inability to afford education, inappropriate teaching resources, overcrowded living circumstances leading to lack of nutrition and sleep which in turn leads to learning difficulties, not enough Indigenous teachers and resources to relate to and also the parents of these children might have bad memories from their own education, which they have imprinted into their children’s minds, creating a natural fear before they may have even started their learning.

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There has been an ongoing debate as to whether it is better to educate Indigenous children in their own communities or whether it is better to remove Indigenous children to boarding schools where they can access Western-style education and be saturated in the English language. A positive from this, is that Indigenous students learn to integrate into society and develop their language skills, but a negative is that they lose their Indigenous language and culture from within their community. . (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tony Calma – Social Justice Report 2008, p. 95). This is why the Djidi Djidi school is so fantastic, as they have incorporated both into their school curriculum.

Overall the main emphasis for learning in primary school education is developing basic language literacy and numeracy skills, health and social education, and being creative. Primary schooling focuses on developing these aspects and also provides additional opportunities to study other areas.

Although the issues relating to Indigenous education are complex, it’s important that educators have the ability to think critically about Indigenous education, perspectives and pedagogy. Teachers play a positive role in helping to improve the education outcomes of Indigenous students and children and to do that it is necessary to address factors across the whole community, home, school and the student themselves so that all students are able to engage and learn.

Assessing the Stolen Generation families and their history, it sheds light that ‘Aboriginal history is Australia’s history’ (Singleton, 2006). The importance of teaching a shared and comprehensive view on Australian history cannot be emphasized more. Teachers that understand Australia’s past, can help students understand their present, which also helps to shape their future (Wilson-Miller, 2003).

The chart below displays 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning, see below-


(Share Learn Together, 2016)

The chart above, displays an inventive way for Indigenous students to find a common ground through learning in the classroom. Educators can use this framework to teach core curriculum subjects using Aboriginal perspectives and learning techniques. This diagram can also benefit teachers on their pedagogical thinking.

It is not only important for teachers to have an understanding of Aboriginal culture but to also have an understanding of the students in the classroom. Schools play a huge role in Aboriginal children finding their own personal identities, finding connections with the other children and also finding a connection with Australian society (Phillips & Lampert, 2005).

Notions and practices such as the Stolen Generation, have shaped Indigenous lives, but also affected their perceptions through later lives as well. These intuitive understandings are very difficult to change (Leonard, 2002), but in a learning environment where children can feel connected to their culture, heritage and country but also be proud of who they are and where they came from, is a massive push toward a positive outcome.


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