English Essay: All-inclusive Classroom for Indigenous Learners
Your English essay will explore the current educational context for Indigenous people and how historical events and issues have impacted on this context. You will need to reply to the below statement:
'The impact of historical and contemporary events and issues demonstrates the importance of embedding Indigenous perspectives into Australian education.' Discuss.
You will need to support your discussion with literature and specific examples of how embedding Indigenous Perspectives occurs in Australian Early Years settings and/or Primary classrooms.
It is evident in this English essay that for ages, the historical and existing happenings have influenced the lives and perspectives of fellow Australians, especially the indigenous population. In such a scenario, it is essential to bring in new principles and prioritise the requirement of the indigenous population who were kept aside of the Australian mainstream society for quitelong. Thus it is the ideal time to ponder on the cultural heritage, history, and knowledge of the country to attract the aborigines into the Australian educational diaspora. The current system ischaracterised by advancements in technologies that led to the shifting of perspectives and a better understanding of the aboriginal population. So taking advantage of the development of the existing Australian curriculum, the essay will shed light on the accommodation of the aborigines in the primary education set-up. It will also go through various aspects like The Stolen Generations alongside the 2008 Apology focusing on the historical and contemporary perspectives. Lastly, the essay will show the significance of making an all-inclusive classroom to make the indigenous learners comfortable with the set-up making them an integral part of the Australian educational system.
Current educational context for Indigenous people –
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been subjected to widespread discrimination in the past but things are changing for the betterment of the targeted population. The Australian Government is undertaking sincere measures to make the aborigines comfortable with the mainstream educational system prevalent in the country. So far the targeted section wasthe victim of the Deficit Model wherein the cultural perspectives of the minority sections are ignored by the dominant groups. The essence of the Deficit Model lies in understanding why the children from the backward communities, say the aborigines fail to create an impression in the existing educational scenario. The apparent reason is the cultural difference between the teacher and the students as the teacher belongs to the racially superior White community while the students are the vulnerable indigenous community.
Thus the educational set-up is in stark contrast with the Attribute Model wherein a non-comparable, all-inclusive strategy is followed to deliver education to the students from a diverse community. The educational scenario is supposed to be a component of the Attribute Model but turned out to be a Deficit Model. On a positive note, the Australian authorities have identified the need for education and basic human rights for the indigenous people and the sorts of discrimination, they have been subjected to for ages. It led to the defining moment of National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 when the erstwhile Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd formally seek forgiveness of the aborigines to deny their rights (Nma.gov.au, 2021).
The eagerness of the government to repair the damage can be understood from the release of the “Closing the Gap Report 2020’.It showcases the achievement as well as the shortcomings in efforts to improve the overall condition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(pc.gov.au, 2020). The report is hopeful about the progress of the early childhood education programs of indigenous children. The authorities have set a target to enrol about 95% of the indigenous population aged 4 years by 2025. It is estimated that by 2018, 86.4% of the children already got enrolled informal schools(ctgreport.niaa.gov.au, 2021). The phenomenon leads to vivid opportunities for the young children of the community to break the shackles of ignorance and progress towards cognition, social development. But there are still milestones to be achieved such as the target to close the gap in terms of school attendance and developing the reading and numeracy competence of the indigenous children.
Impact of historical and contemporary events –
To understand the apparent reason for the current efforts of the Australian Government to improve the situation of the aborigines, one needs to refer to the past. The past can be linked with the contemporary scenario to make the situation understandable in the present scenario as well.
The phrase refers to those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken away from their families under the government decree. It started in the 1910s and continued vigorously till the 1970swherein one-third of the indigenous children were separated from their families(aiatsis.gov.au, 2020).
The Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915 (NSW) was conceived and enacted asmeans to protect the children of the community as they get neglected by their parents. It was an atrocious plot to wipe out the “Pure Blood” aborigines inculcating in them the superiority of the “Mixed Blood” or Caucasian heritage. This sort of treatment that their forefathers have received from the authorities makes the children shy and introvert in the classroom affecting their education and overall cognitive growth. Hence the community needs the support of the authorities to keep the worries back and progress towards the bright future ahead.
It is a Latin term meaning “land belonging to no one”. The British while colonising Australia passed various land-related regulations claiming the country as terra nullius. Thus the British Crown justified its occupation in Australia without any formal payment or treaty, arguably denying the rights of the aborigines settled there(Jagot, 2017). The British colonial masters denied the land rights of the different tribal settlements there despite the tribes continued to inhabit and till the land. They grew up there, built homes, and organised politically and socially but were systematically denied any sort of recognition. So the indigenous people in Australia have been through ugly circumstances making them suspicious of the government initiatives to improve their conditions and so forth.
The menace of British colonisation brought with it the bane of apartheid in Australia. In 1901, Australia introduced the White Australia policy to drive out non-Europeans from the country. The policy had severe implications on the aboriginal communities leading to widespread discrimination against them. It was known as ‘Silent Apartheid’ making their lives deplorable and forced them to suffer undergoing discrimination in every walk of life(library.bsl.org.au, 2018).
The aspect of Silent Apartheid can be linked with the phenomenon of collective guilt that has had deep implications in society for a substantial time. Modern society as a whole is quite aghast for bringing trouble to the vulnerable aborigines in their native land(Miguel, 2019).To address the collective guilt, it is the responsibility of the Australian authorities to improve the condition of the indigenous community and a wide change can be plausible by educating them.
On the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People on December 10, 1992, the erstwhile Australian Prime Minister, Paul J Keating accepted the discrimination that the aborigines have been subjectedto in the country. He madea historicaland relevant speech stating how the British colonial masters ill-treatedtheindigenouspeople,robthem of their rights, and denouncing them to petty settlers. Through his speech, he accepted the significant contributions of the community to Australian society and cosmopolitan culture(Aso.gov.au, 2021). Thus in contemporary times, substantial changes in apperception and attitude of the mainstream Australian politicians and authorities were evidenced accepting the significant presence of the aborigines.
Again, on February 13, 2008, the then Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd formally apologised to the indigenous community of the country for the sorts of atrocities inflicted on them. It was a sort of redemption for the kinds of regressive government policies like Stolen Generations that the aborigines have to experience in the 20th century alongside the apartheid issues. The event wasmarked with the presentation of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report,a noble initiative to unite the separated families(Nma.gov.au, 2021). This sort of event shows that the authorities are tyring earnestly to win the confidence of the community and striving to make them an integral part of mainstream society.
Closing the Gap
It is a noble initiative to strike an all-round development for the indigenous community to take them into the main fold of Australian society. Hence the Australian Government undertook the Closing the Gap framework to investigate the avenues wherein the community lacks and strategize programs to strike developments. This initiative strives to be a collective journey by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Australian authorities alike. The report states that the mission has been quite successful in the enrolment of the young children of the community in schools which is set to be achieved by 2025(pc.gov.au, 2020). But some works need to be done like developing competency in reading and writing and enhance their school attendance trend.
Significance in embedding Indigenous perspective in education –
The children of the aboriginal communities are gradually coming under the light of education and need undue support from the teachers in the process. Thus the perspective of the indigenous population is necessary to have an Attribute Education Model such as learning each other’s culture, traditional aspects, and heritage(Australiancurriculum.edu.au, 2021). It is the two-way learning concept wherein the fear of the indigenous community or racial supremacy of the White can be easily dealt with. The phenomenon is mutually beneficial as it helps the student to be wiser, intelligent, develop empathy and respect for various customs and cultures.
Accordingly, the New South Wales
Education Department formulated the Aboriginal Education Policy to collaborate with the community for spreading education.The goal has been to extract a better outcome in terms of enhancing the knowledge of the learners and making them global citizens(Education.nsw.gov.au, 2020). Hence the Australian curriculum is designed to enhance the personal knowledge and excellence of the targeted community and continue the progress of the Close the Gap report. The whole-hearted participation of the indigenous community by having their cultural and historical perspective can bring a metamorphic change in their education process.
Inclusion of Indigenous perspective in education –
It is a fact that two-way learning willbe an effective way to propagate educational inquisitiveness among the learners. The phenomenon will be suitable if it gets implemented from an early educational phase and in this context, the Possum Skin Pedagogy will be effective. It can be done by inviting a senior member of the community and hold a story-telling session or have a short excursion amidst nature to learn new things(Australiancurriculum.edu.au, 2021). In this way, the students can connect with the things and happenings around them.It also develops among the students the listening skill and rational thinking to deliver a better outcome as they grow.
Then there are the 8 ways pedagogy framework that can be implemented tohave cognitive development among the learners, such as –
- Story sharing –The kids can be enlightened through narratives.
- Learning maps – The students can develop visualisation by learning to understand maps.
- Non-verbal – Development of interpersonal skills among fellow learners to accelerate the learning process.
- Symbols and images – Images and symbols can be used asmetaphors to develop the conceptualisation aspect.
- Land links – Alignment of the education with the places where they live.
- Non-linear – Developing innovative and inquisitive minds from an early age.
- Deconstruct/Reconstruct –Trying to imitate things they see and create them.
- Community links – Focusing on local folklores to inculcate learning in a better way.
The essay points out that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are heraldingthe new dawn as the authorities are extending a helping hand to make them turnaround. The indigenous community has been subjected to widespread discrimination like Silent Apartheid and Stolen Generation. But as time passes, the authorities have realised the mistake and initiating a process to make a positive change. The Redfern Speech, 2008 Apology, and Close the Gap Report are certain initiatives in the positive direction. The authorities are making progress like enrolment of the young aborigines children in the school but more needs to be done. The aspect of two-way learning, 8 ways pedagogy framework, and Possum Skin Pedagogy will enable the student to connect with the real world around them and absorb the knowledge to be a future responsible Australian contributing to society.
aiatsis.gov.au. (2020, June 22). The Stolen Generations. Retrieved from AIATSIS: https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/stolen-generations
Aso.gov.au. (2021, July 22). Curator's notes Keating Speech: The Redfern Address (1992) on ASO -
Australia's audio and visual heritage online. Retrieved from Aso.gov.au: https://aso.gov.au/titles/spoken-word/keating-speech-redfern-address/notes/
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Aboriginal Education Policy. Retrieved from Education.nsw.gov.au: https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/pd-2008-0385
Jagot, J. (2017, October 20). The Rule of Law and Reconciliation: Opening Address to the Law Society of New South Wales Young Lawyers' Conference. Retrieved from fedcourt.gov.au: https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/digital-law-library/judges-speeches/justice-jagot/jagot-j-20171020
library.bsl.org.au. (2018, May 31). The Great Silent Apartheid. Retrieved from library.bsl.org.au: https://library.bsl.org.au/jspui/bitstream/1/6618/1/Mark_Rose_community_development_11Oct07.pdf
Miguel, M. (2019, September 05). Collective Guilt and Responsibility – UAB Institute for Human Rights Blog. Retrieved from Sites.uab.edu: https://sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2019/09/05/collective-guilt-and-responsibility/
Nma.gov.au. (2021, August 31). National Apology. Retrieved from Nma.gov.au: https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/national-apology
pc.gov.au. (2020, December 02). Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report 2020. Retrieved from YouTube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXx1HGz5Qaw