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Edfd Assessment Task 1

Australian Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom

Suzanne Skirde

on 7 October 2012

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Transcript of Edfd Assessment Task 1

Australian Aboriginal
perspectives in the
classroom. Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders were originally hunters and gathers who were semi nomadic. Even though they have the oldest living culture, they have changed and adapted over time; when climate changes occurred, there is evidence that so did the people. One reason Europeans did not believe that the indigenous population had ties to the land was because they did not have fences to indicate boundaries, but their boundaries were geographic ones, lakes, rivers and mountains. Each clan or family group had their own territory and it is well known now, that they have a great affinity to the land, and identify themselves through that land. Indigenous people have sophisticated family and kinship relationships, once these regulated roles, obligations and marriage decisions. Gender roles were well defined, men hunted the larger animals, such as kangaroos and emus, women hunted smaller animals and collected fruits and berries. On the coast they also collected shellfish; they only stayed for a limited time so a not to over hunt or fish the area.
Different tools reflected the geographic areas that groups inhabited, those that lived near the sea had tools and weapons with fish bone tips, those inland had more stone weapons. Their tools were comprehensive, from knives, scrapers, axes, spears, digging stick to eating and drinking vessels. They were also the first people to introduce stone ground edges on cutting tools.
www.australiangovernment.gov.au/about_australia/australianstory_indigenous_cultural_heritage Unfortunately, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have been the victims of stereotyping, seen as lazy drunks who are on welfare; the majority, who work and live the same as everyone else are often called the exception, not the rule. This stereotyping goes back to the Europeans' settlement; an article in the South Australian Advertiser, dated 1932, had an article with the headline stating the findings that "Aboriginals are more intelligent than supposed". This continues today, when you look at our coins, we see that the 5c, 10c and 20c all have the image of an Australian animal, the two dollar coin has a stereotypical image an Aboriginal. Successive Australian Governments had a policy of child removal, attempting to force the race to die out. The agencies set up to 'protect' indigenous people did the opposite and took away their right to self-determination.
Racism is still happening today, three out of four Indigenous people have experienced racism. www.antar.org.au/node/221
Racism does not have to be overt to be racism, it can be just having a negative opinion of someone based on the colour of their skin, all forms are wrong and hurtful.
In 1993 Nicky Winmar was being racially abused by the Collingwood cheer squad, his answer to this abuse was the above photo which said it all, his stand started a move by the AFL to stamp out racism.
Teaching students about Aboriginal culture will hopefully see a lessening of racism. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture Contemporary Australian Aboriginal perspectives Historical
perspective Racism VELS and the
Curriculum Government Policy, Protocols
and Consultation with the
Indigenous Community References/Bibliography http://www.yarrahealing.catholic.edu.au/kulin-nation/index.cfm?loadref=8
www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/melbourne_declaration,25979.html http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/aboriginal-anzac-day-war-memorials
www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/alcv/vels.aspx Most of the known history of Australia is written from the European perspective, it began with Terra Nullius, where the indigenous population of Australia was totally discounted. In other countries that were colonised, treaties were made with
the native population, because of Terra Nullius, there was no treaty with the Aboriginal people. It is commonly taught that Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson found a crossing through the Blue Mountains, but it is not taught that the Aboriginals had walked those routes for thousands of years. www.swirk.com.au
http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_education.html Professor Reynolds was cited in The Age, May 5th 2012, as saying that Australia was formed as a nation, without bloodshed, but there was blood shed by numerous indigenous Australians. There were massacres of Aboriginal people and there were those that fought, in a vain attempt, to take back their land; one is Pemulwuy. Pemulwuy lead the Eora and put up resistance to the British from 1790 to 1802, he was held in awe by his people; until recently he was not mentioned in books of Australian history. Pemulwuy killed a gamekeeper, John McIntyre, this made Pemulwuy a hunted man, even though McIntyre was known for his cruelty to and murder of the Eora, . He held out for twelve years, he was injured many times, eventually he was killed, beheaded and his head sent to London. http://www.gadigal.org.au/gadigalinfo/Pelmuwuy%20The%20Rainbow%20Warrior.aspx?Id=31 The name William Buckley is well know in the Geelong area, he was known as a wild man who escaped the prison ship, Calcutta in 1802 after being transported to Australia. It is was only because he was found by the Wathaurong, half starved, that he survived; they took him in as they thought the giant of a man (6ft 6ins) was a reincarnation of their chief. While Buckley is remembered by place names, until recently not much was known about the Wathaurong. Tipping, Marjorie J. in http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/buckley-william-1844
There is also great disparity in history when looking back at those who died for their country during war. Not too far from the Australian War Memorial is a small plaque to honour our indigenous soldiers killed in action; it is in a forgotten corner of the bush. http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/aboriginal-anzac-day-war-memorials The first thing to be aware of is that there are two distinct indigenous groups, the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous Australians are part of the oldest culture on earth and have lived on this continent between 50 - 65 thousand years. Both have a strong connection to the land and place and a unique belief and spiritual system. Dreaming stories differ from clan to clan and some animals can be designated a different role depending on the group's oral traditions. There are also different reasons for different stories, some are creation stories, while others are moral parables. The You Tube below tells the story of the blue wren who cheated in a contest with the other birds.
www.australiancurriculum edu.au http://www.aboriginalartonline.com/culture/amusic.php Indigenous Australians passed on their knowledge in an oral tradition; it was also passed on through their dance, songs, art and rituals. There were hundreds of indigenous languages and many more dialects spoken throughout Australia and through this, the knowledge needed to survive, the whereabouts of sacred sites and objects and spiritual beliefs were passed from one generation to another. Ceremonial gatherings were important events to honour the ancestor spirits, who came to earth in human form creating the land and animals, and who then changed into the trees, rocks, stars etc. linking the people to the land and the past.
Facts_Sheet.pdf From the time that Europeans first came to Australia, the indigenous population suffered abuse and racism. Diseases brought by the settlers along with direct violence and the loss of land and water resources reduced their population by approximately 90%, more than 50% of the indigenous people died due to small pox alone. They were seen by the white population as palaeolithic, living fossils; unchanged for thousands of years.
At first, under white rule, they faced a repressive and brutal regime, dispossession of their traditional land and social and cultural disintegration. It was not until the 1967 referendum, when it was passed by 90% of the voters, that references which discriminated against Aboriginals were removed. But, that still did not give them to right to vote, be counted in the census and have the rights of citizenship.
www.tr7.com.au/pdfs/indigenous/ATSI_Facts_Sheets.pdf http://www.theage.com.au/ffxImage/urlpicture_id_1050172757990_2003/04/18/nicky_winmar,0.jpg The cross-curriculum priorities of the new Australian curriculum states that the learning must be relevant to the lives of the students and address contemporary issues, and keeping in mind the goals of the Melbourne Declaration, give priorities to three points; the opportunity for students to gain an understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture and how this has an impact on today's society. The other two points are Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia and sustainability. http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_education.html.
As with VELS , History, Geography and English have particular relevance in teaching Aboriginal perspectives in the curriculum. The new curriculum seems to take us a step further and move to the emphasis being on our own country and geographic area. The statement that what is taught must be relevant to the students' lives should emphasise that Aboriginal culture is part of our collective culture as Australians and one to be proud of. As many teachers may not confident teaching about a culture they know little about, there must be consultation and cooperation with the local indigenous communities. Protocols have been developed by a range of organisations to help agencies work with indigenous communities in a way that is culturally respectful, each state or territory government has a web page advising groups and businesses of the protocols for consulting with the indigenous community; this is extremely important in education.
In 2008 VCAA funded VACL to consult with Aboriginals in Victoria, as a result 91% of those consulted thought that Aboriginal language and culture should be taught to school children from prep to year 10. These protocols were based on the findings from the consultation and aimed to encourage trust and respect between schools and the indigenous communities. Schools cannot commence Aboriginal language classes without first getting agreement and support from local Aboriginals, the consultative group and the traditional land owners. This is due to the fact that there are very few books and teaching material available to assist in the teaching. There are also varying pronunciations and different stages of revival of languages. The Aboriginal communities have protocols which they follow just as the individual schools have. http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/alcv/vels.aspx An article in The Age, 05/10/12, tells the story of Arthur Murray, whose son died in police custody in 1981, Eddie was 21 and a promising rugby player, he was picked up by the police in Wee Waa for being drunk; unlike many other young people who get drunk, Eddie never came home from his night in the cell. He was said to have hung himself with a blanket tied around his neck. The coroner found much of the police records were falsified, but still delivered a verdict that he died by his own hand or that of persons unknown. Arthur and his wife Leila set out to uncover the truth and after many years of fighting they exhumed the body and it was found Eddie died from a blow to the sternum. In 2000, the minister for police in NSW promised to open a special inquiry; none was ever seriously undertaken and now both Arthur and Leila are dead, without any answers to who killed their son. The Australian Human Rights Commission on its page for Social justice and human rights for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders names three main rights; the right to distinct status and culture, the right to self determination and the right to land. All these are important contemporary issues to indigenous people and they are still struggling to achieve these rights. On June 29th 2012, the Federal government passed legislation to continue the Northern Territory intervention for another decade. The policy was introduced to protect children in remote areas from sexual abuse, but as a result part II of the Racial Discrimination Act was suspended, part II of the act prohibits racial discrimination in, rights to equality before the law, access to place and facilities, land, housing and other accommodation; and provision of goods and services. As a result there is now, among other measures, alcohol restrictions, compulsory health checks, welfare reform, compulsory income management and a ban on pornography. On March 12 2010, the Australian Indigenous Doctor's Association made an assessment of the impact of the intervention on the health of the effected communities; in their findings they found that intervention could possibly lead to profound long term damage with any possible physical health benefits being outweighed by negative impacts on psychological health, social health and wellbeing, and cultural integrity. Many of those interviewed spoke of the humiliation of going back to the 'old days' when they could not make their own decisions and men felt they were all being labeled as pedophiles. The impact assessment found that the intervention will cause profound damage to the indigenous society and cause mistrust of the government.
Peter O'Mara, https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/10/health-impacts-northern-territory-intervention http://www.hollows.org.au/our-work/improving-indigenous-health http://www.panoramio.com/photo/35760066 Health remains a big problem for Australian indigenous communities, they have a greater burden of ill health and infant mortality. Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are 30% more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than other Australians and 60% more likely to die from cancer. www.aihw.gov.au/indigenous-health/.
Educational disadvantages still abound, one reason is the remoteness of some communities and the homesickness student experience when moved to schools away from their community support systems, another is the relevance of a European orientated curriculum to the lives of those in these remote communities. 60% indigenous children are significantly behind other Australian children, with a figure of around 10% graduating high school. www.creativespirits.info/aboriginal/culture/health.
Theseproblems lead to disadvantages in employment opportunities, in the last census, the unemployment rate of the indigenous population was 16% compared to around 5% for the rest of the population, those employed were more likely to be low skilled labour due to the lack of school qualification.
According to Australia's Human Relations Commission, indigenous Australian are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned, which they attribute to the impact of forced removal of children. www.hreroc.gov.au Much of indigenous housing is still substandard, many populations are relegated to arid and remote areas. In a survey of 4,000 houses in the Northern Territory in 1998 -99, 33% had no running water for cooking, cleaning and waste facilities. www.creativespirits.info/aboriginal/culture/health. http://www.mdba.gov.au/annualreports/2010-11/chapter_02_2.html http://www.ccgs.wa.edu.au/we-offer/preparatory-school/preparatory-school-curriculum/the-arts/news-stories-about-the-arts/prep-class-studies-aboriginal-culture VELS states that, "teaching indigenous perspectives is an integral part of the curriculum, it is essential for developing student understanding of Australian history, culture, identity and providing understanding of contemporary culture." (VELS, http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/support/crosscurricular/indigenous.html). Aboriginal studies should be taught across the curriculum and most subjects can be looked at from an Aboriginal perspective. The five interrelated themes are land, culture, politics, history, civil rights and indigenous cultures today. History and geography are definitely suited for teaching an Aboriginal perspective as are English and civics and citizenship. These help teach what makes up an harmonious democratic society with equality, freedom, respect and understanding.
The reclamation and revival of Aboriginal language and culture helps aid healing between indigenous society and the nation as a whole.
With the teaching of Aboriginal perspectives from prep upwards we are helping to redress the lack that has dominated the curriculum previously. Teaching History and English
from an indigenous perspective English When teaching English, include works from indigenous authors, this helps aid the aims of VCAA; to promote understanding of Australian culture. There are many works that can be studied, by or about Aboriginal culture, Macquarie Pen put out an Anthology of Aboriginal literature, which includes works dating from 1796 to present day. There are letters written by Bennelong, describing the controls put upon the indigenous population by the Europeans, to modern works by Kev Carmody, Sally Morgan and Oodgeroo Noonuccal.
In VCE, students can study the film, 'One Night the Moon' among others. Songs, dance and oral traditional stories are other literacies that should be examined. History Of all the disciplines, I think history can promote a clear understanding of Australian culture, as knowing what has happened can help us understand what is happening today. The most important questions asked by historians is, "Who wrote the history and why?" Historiography should look at the issues of contact, racism, protection, assimilation, land rights, activism and civil rights, among many others, and research when it was written, why and by whom and then evaluate it. We can look at what is called the 'History Wars' and the debate this has caused. We can look at the previously excluded indigenous voices and perspectives and what is described as the 'Black Armband' view, where Australia was not settled, but invaded. There are still disputes today about the degree of violence toward Australia's indigenous population that happened in the past.
In the Australian Curriculum, it is put down that students study the consequences of British settlement for the Aboriginals, including first contact, frontier conflict and missions and reserves. All this, of course, must be done in a way that is culturally sensitive. The Melbourne Declaration "As a Nation Australia values the central role of education in building a democratic, equitable and just society; a society that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse and that values Australia's indigenous cultures as a key part of the nation's history, present and future".
Preamble, Melbourne Declaration, December, 2008. "Recognise the similarities, celebrate the differences." Naomi Wolfe, Lecture for EDFE 547, 3/10/12
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