The discourse of whiteness has severely impacted on the educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (herein referred to as Indigenous Peoples). The discourse is based on an ontology founded on overt racism, discrimination, prejudice, exclusion and dispossession and towards all Indigenous Peoples. Subsequently, the history of Indigenous Peoples experiences in relation to education is extremely negative. They have been denied the right to the same education as non-Indigenous students, frequently expelled and continually forced to deny their cultural identity. The discourse of whiteness has resulted in pedagogies and pedagogical practices that are overly racist and not inclusive of Indigenous Peoples culture. To improve future educational outcomes it is necessary to decolonise Australia and rewrite the curriculum so that it is inclusive for all students.
It is a commonly known issue in Australia that as a minority group, the people of Indigenous Australian ethnicity have always been treated, or at least perceived, differently to those of non-Indigenous disposition. This can be applied to different contexts such as social, economic, education, or in relation to this essay – legal contexts. Generally, Indigenous Australians face issues such as less opportunity for formal education, less access to sufficient income, more health issues, and higher rates of imprisonment (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service
The Australian Curriculum currently is struggling with incorporating indigenous perspectives as a key focus in the curriculum properly. It is lacking the ability to normalise indigenous knowledge and instead represents
As many Aboriginals stood in the way of European economic expansion, Europeans forced the younger generation of Aboriginals to residential schools. This justified and assisted in their need to revolutionize former Aboriginal beliefs. More specifically, the correspondence principle identifies the changes Aboriginal children had to make in school in order to reflect that of the normal workplace. For instance, certain ideologies were enforced by residential schools. Aboriginal children were punished if they spoke in their native tongue, as this rule was reflected and followed in the workplace. With these regulations in place, the Aboriginal culture was on the verge of destruction, as it was nearly impossible for any future Aboriginal generations to receive proper knowledge on their native culture. More generally, conflict theory is based on social inequality, and it explains how the powerful promote their own interests at the expense of the weak (Ravelli & Webber, 2010). Residential schools signify this notion, as the Aboriginals were mistreated and abused by the more powerful, prominent religious figures in the school. Overall, the conflict theory best describes the residential school system, and it correctly identifies how the Aboriginal culture was destroyed as a result.
At the turn of the twentieth century the systematic forced removal of Aboriginal children from their mothers, families and cultural heritage was commonplace. There were several reasons that the government and white society used to justify the separation but the prevailing ideology of nationalism and maintaining Australia for the ‘whites’ was the over-riding motivation and justification for their actions. Progressive sciences such as anthropology espoused such theories as eugenics, miscegenation, biological absorption and assimilation which legitimated governmental policies relating to Aboriginal affairs. It was
For the last 200 years Indigenous people have been victims of discrimination, prejudice and disadvantage. Poor education, poor living conditions and general poverty are still overwhelming issues for a large percentage of our people and we remain ‘as a group, the most poverty stricken sector of the working class’ in Australia (Cuthoys 1983).
In this essay we will try to provide a brief overview of educational issues of Aboriginal communities in Australia and Victoria and the elements that influence the educational outcomes of young Aboriginal people, such as culture and contemporary challenges. In addition to this, the inclusion of Aboriginal content in the Victorian curriculum and classroom practices will be explored as well as contemporary government policies.
Throughout the early 20th century, the Australian public was led to believe that Aboriginal children were disadvantaged in their communities, and that there was a high risk of physical and sexual abuse. Aboriginal children were being removed in order to be exposed to ‘Anglo values’ and ‘work habits’ with a view to them being employed by colonial settlers, and to stop their parents, families and communities from passing on their culture, language and identity
Government policies authorising the removal of Aboriginal children have caused extensive and unrepairable damage to every aspect of Indigenous culture. It could be argued that the emotional turmoil which occurred as a result of this policy, is greater than any physical abused ever faced by the Australian Aboriginal people. The act of child removal would be a scarring experience for parents and children of any race or culture. This policy had a particularly damaging impact on the Indigenous people as their identity is based within a set of strong traditional guides and teachings. These lessons are not recorded, but can only be taught through speaking with elders and learning through a connection to others within the mob, connection to art forms
Through my life, I have seen several different approaches to Indigenous people’s rights and importance in Australia. I have been fortunate enough to visit Ayers Rock and undertake a tour which allowed me to see Aboriginal culture in art and drawings as well as hearing Dreamtime stories from guides. I have also witnessed family friends who have been severely racist and disrespectful of Indigenous heritage and history. I also was lucky to work with some Indigenous students who were in Reception during my Professional Experience 1, and I was able to see first-hand how a culture clash can affect a student’s behaviour. I feel that even before entering this course, I have had the privilege of being able to observe both positives and negatives
Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the curriculum has now become a high priority amoungst schools across the nation. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2013), recognises “that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority is designed for all students to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures”. By including this, the curriculum will continue to see Indigenous culture throughout school become part of the norm. Furthermore Indigenous Australian perspectives can and should be included in the classroom and any barriers that arise can be overcome.
Research an aspect of Australian history (e.g. policy, practice) and outline the ways in which this aspect has impacted on Aboriginal people and Aboriginal education.
As a future educator, it will be my job to continue acknowledging, valuing and teaching Indigenous origins, histories and cultures using the Australian Institute for Teaching and School (AITSL) standard 2.4 and the Australian Curriculum. This will give my future students a better understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were the first custodians of our Australian land and of their origins. They lived in Australia 60,000 years before the British settled in 1788. I will teach an Australian historical time line prior to 1788.
‘Australia’ also showed how the government controlled how children of Aboriginal descent were brought up with language used such as “The mixed raced children must be dislocated from their primitive full blooded Aborigine, how else are we to breed the black out of them”. This presented again the reason as to why the Aboriginal children were taken away from their own cultures to be raised in something completely different.
Throughout the last fifty years two diametrically opposed views have played out. H.C. Coombs argued that the priority was to use the curriculum and teaching methods to rebuild and sustain traditional Aboriginal culture destroyed by colonisation, racism and oppression. He supported Moira Kingston’s view that all Aborigines had a “world view derived from the Dreaming and irreconcilable with the demands of a modern industrialised market economy.” Sir Paul Hasluck represented the opposing assimiliationist view that schools should give priority to literacy, numeracy and technical and scientific knowledge to asssist integration in the workforce.Many theorists and practitioners have focused on the one third of students in Aboriginal schools with a specifically Aboriginal education rather than the majority attending the same schools as non-Indigenous children. In either case major problems were indentified with Aboriginal education by 2000.