The inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives is a part of education that hasn’t always been given the attention it needs in the Australian education system. Mind boggling when you consider how critical that is in understanding the foundation of Australia.
Things are beginning to change with both curriculum designers and parents starting to recognise the importance of including Aboriginal perspectives in education plans. This increasing recognition is also seeing a shift in the focus expanding from cultural expression to include other areas of Indigenous knowledge. This focus can enhance a child’s view-point and support them to develop interests and skills that support them as they move through life.
This focus can enhance a child’s view-point and support them to develop interests and skills that support them as they move through life.
One of the questions that I am often asked by parents of non-Aboriginal students is how does their child benefit from the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives? I think this question stems from years of perpetuating a misguided view of what Aboriginal education is all about.
Many people think of Aboriginal education as something for Aboriginal kids with the focus on cultural expression. It is not surprising this view has prevailed – we have all sat through school assemblies, usually in NAIDOC week, that feature performances of didge players and dancers. It has been happening since the 80s and often this is the only inclusion of Aboriginal culture or knowledge that people are exposed to. We walk away not understanding the significance of what we have seen, we don’t appreciate the skill that went into the performance and we don’t see the link between cultural expression and the incredible knowledge that has been passed down through generations of Aboriginal communities.
The experience leaves kids without the opportunity to really develop the skills that come with Aboriginal perspectives – empathy, critical thinking, knowledge of a culture that is not their own, the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and the knowledge that may support them to pursue a career in a leading corporation, many of whom now require staff to have a solid working knowledge of Aboriginal perspectives so that they can support the company in achieving its social responsibility outcomes. It is easy to see why many parents currently fail to see the benefits of learning Aboriginal perspectives but, if its done well, it provides kids an opportunity to develop and practice skills and traits that make them a good person as well as giving them important knowledge that can support future career development.
For home-schooling families seeking out Aboriginal experiences, there are many opportunities to experience cultural expression through performance. The flexibility for parent educators to dive deeper into Aboriginal perspectives allows families to explore beyond the tokenistic cultural expression they may have experienced at school. However, the barrier many families face is knowing where to find the information and experiences they need to explore Aboriginal content in a culturally appropriate and respectful way while delving deeper than the usual cultural expression. This is where Wingaru Kids can help. We provide curriculum aligned resources that have been created by Aboriginal people so you can be confident that your child is learning appropriate and authentic content. Our resources look at a wide range of Aboriginal knowledge and support kids as they delve into a fascinating world of culture, science, political history and sustainability practices that may ignite a lifelong respect for the world’s oldest living culture.
Lesley Woodhouse is the CEO of Wingaru Education, an Aboriginal owned and operated business specialising in digital education resources and software.
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