You are on page 1of 6

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016

Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
Question 2.
In 2003, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr
Andrew Refshauge, announced a review of Aboriginal education in NSW. The
report of this review lead to the formation of the Aboriginal Education and
Training policy, which states a number of commitments, responsibilities and
requirements of the education system, for the purpose of improving outcomes
for indigenous students. This piece of key policy, in addition to other important
education policies including the Quality Teaching Model, the AITSL Standards and
the Australian curriculum, is essential for any teacher wishing to improve their
relationships with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. By utilizing
these policies, teachers can develop skills to combat racism, learn to develop
high expectations, facilitate beneficial relationships with parents and
communities and gain the ability to effectively foster indigenous cultural identity.
The Report of the Review of Aboriginal Education determined that many
indigenous students experience explicit and systematic racism within Australian
schools (DET and AECG, 2004, p.211). Two recent studies by Priest support this,
reporting that over 50% of Indigenous students aged 12-26 in Melbourne and
one third of indigenous participants aged 16-20 in the Northern territory
experienced racism (2011). Apart from having proven effects on mental,
emotional, social and physical wellbeing, the Review of Aboriginal Education also
suggests that high suspension rates are linked to racism in schools. It suggests
that suspension is a result of systematic racism, and that behavioural difficulties
caused by racism have a direct impact on suspension rates (DET and AECG,
2004, p.212).
The Report of the Review of Aboriginal Education highlighted reasons why the
issue of racism has not been dealt with, including lack of mechanisms and
discipline strategies to resolve complaints and limited understanding amongst
staff about how their attitudes and behaviours contribute to discrimination. The
report recommends appointing an Anti-Racism Contact Officer (ARCO) and more
effectively promoting the reporting process for racial discrimination to students
and staff (DET and AECG, 2004, p.213). This addresses the first concern, but not
the lack of understanding amongst staff and students. That concern is addressed
in The Aboriginal Education and Training Policy statement provide supportive
and culturally inclusive learning environments for Aboriginal students (DET,
2009, p.14) and by the Quality Teaching Model element Social Support, which
advocates supportive language and behaviour, and eradication of the negative
socialisation (DET, 2006, p.11). There are several ways in which teachers can
effectively adhere to these policies of inclusion and support in their pedagogy.
Teachers must first reflect on their own attitudes and perceptions about
Indigenous peoples, recognising their own privilege as a majority and assessing
any subconscious values and beliefs that may influence their behaviour. When a
teacher is better able to comprehend how they may influence their students and
their school environment, this awareness can then translate into the classroom
(DET, 2010, p.28). Reflection strategies for teachers and their students might
include challenging negative attitudes by voicing them through role-play or small
group responses, then viewing them from alternate perspectives. (DET, 2010,
p.63-64). This can serve as a means to eliminate negative thoughts and
stereotypes, and replacing them with positive ones.

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016


Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
The elimination of racism can also be achieved through integrated lessons within
the established curriculum. The English KLA is highly relevant because racism as
an idea is largely relevant to the inherent KLA concepts of perspective and
representation. The Department of Education and Communities has created antiracism lesson plans in response to policy changes. You Dont Even Look
Aboriginal, studies the work of an indigenous artist under Stage 5 and 4
outcomes of analysing how multiple types of text create meaning (DOE, 2015, p
205). This lesson plan can invite discussion and reflection on the experiences of
indigenous artist, Bronwyn Bancroft, who uses art to express perspectives about
racial stereotyping. Integrating lessons such as this into the English curriculum
can challenge stereotypes or discriminatory views in an open classroom
environment.
One of the aims of the Aboriginal Education and Training Policy is to engage and
motivate Aboriginal students for successful participation in education and
training (DET, 2009, p.14). The policy advocates achieving this through
relationships and engagement (p.2). Close the Gap studies show that
teachers with the skills and knowledge to effectively engage and develop
relationships with indigenous students will contribute to a positive learning
environment (2014, p.12). Chris Sarra believes that if a teacher works to enact
high expectation relationships with their students this will translate into high
expectations learning environments. High expectation relationships involve
understanding personal assumptions, creating spaces for dialogue and
engaging in challenging conversations (2014, p.5).
If teachers first reflect and comprehend their own bias and privilege, they will be
more self-aware when making judgements and exhibiting behaviour. If children
feel like they are being met with an open mind, free or at least aware of the low
expectations commonly directed at indigenous students, they will be more willing
to engage in dialogue. Open spaces for dialogue will then assist the teacher
balance the power dynamics between themselves and the student, which will
facilitate challenging conversations about expectations, behaviour and
academics (2014, p.5-11). High Expectations is also an element of the Quality
Teaching Model for creating a quality learning environment (DET, 2006, p.11). In
a study of four NSW schools with significant outcome improvement for their
indigenous students, high expectations and explicit classroom discussion
strategies were used across the board (Munns, ORourke, Bodkin-Andrews, 2013,
p.4-7). This demonstrates that, while these are not the only elements essential
for improving relationships with indigenous students, they can serve an
important role. Open, explicit dialogue is especially important in an English KLA
classroom. All English outcomes require students to Engage personally with
texts, something that is significantly easier in an open, inviting space. Outcome
1, Stage 4 in particular requires students to explain the connections between
their own experiences and the world in text and consider and analyse the ways
their own experience affects their response to texts (BOSTES, 2012, p 116). If
Indigenous students believe that they wont be met with low expectations or
prejudice, they will be more willing to discuss their lives from both a personal and
cultural perspectives, and these open discussions of texts can facilitate exchange
of perspective between Indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.
Not only will the Indigenous students be more able to achieve their outcomes but

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016


Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
they have the potential for stronger relationships between themselves, their
classmates and their teachers.
One of the most important findings of the Review of Aboriginal education was the
need for collaboration between students, teachers, schools, parents and the
wider community. Personal contact between school personnel, parents and
aboriginal education aides was shown to be crucial when dealing with
attendance (DET and AECG, 2004, p.83) and case studies showed that taking
part in community leadership projects with Indigenous Elders lead to reduced
suspension rates (p.203). This manifested in the Aboriginal Education and
Training Policy statement The Department is committed to collaborative
decision making with Aboriginal Peoples, parents, caregivers, families and their
communities (DET, 2009, p.13). Methods of including parents and community
members included using them as mentors and tutors in classrooms and
community panel involvement in behavioural issues (DET and AECG, 2004, p.
79).
The What Works program recommends the creation of formal agreements,
including clear objectives for improved outcomes, reflective practise and regular
processes to ensure that the school, and those who represent parents and
community, can feel comfortable checking in frequently (DEEWR, 2016, p.8). One
such formal agreement between students, teachers, parents and community
members is a Personal Learning Plan. It is the goal of the [Aboriginal
Education and Training Policy] that students will match or better the outcomes of
broader student population (DET, 2009, p.13) and creating PLPs with the help of
indigenous parents is a highly effective way of achieving this. PLPs are a direct
response to a recommendation from the Review of Aboriginal education; that
each Aboriginal student have a personalised plan that will be developed by the
school in partnership with parents/caregivers (DET and AECG, 2008, p.200).
They involve extensive background knowledge and integration of cultural
identity for the purpose of creating specific, measureable, achievable, realistic
and time-bound (Smart) goal based achievement (Lawler, 2012, p.39). In a
2013-2014 ACT Government report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
education, the 91% of focus schools who reported full implementation of PLPs
commented that the process "opened communication between teachers and
staff and that they represented a strong vehicle to build and sustain
meaningful partnerships with parents (ETD, 2015, p.21). Methods of
collaboration between students, parents, schools and communities are vital for
positive outcomes for indigenous students, both in areas of attendance and
suspension, and in academic achievement through PLPs.
Fostering and integrating cultural identity is an important element of the
Aboriginal Education and Training Policy. The Review of Aboriginal Education
received a number of contributions relating to the promotion of aboriginal
cultural knowledge for indigenous students. Chris Sarra explains that a positive
sense of cultural identity is crucial for promoting self-esteem in indigenous
students. Some indigenous peoples, especially youths, have been socialised to
believe negative stereotypes, and may have low opinions of their own abilities.
Students who are taught that their cultural identity is something to be proud of
will have higher expectations of themselves (2014, p.2). The Aboriginal
Education and Training Policy recognises this, and commits to valuing and

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016


Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
acknowledging the identities of aboriginal students (DET, 2009, p.14).
Aboriginal studies programs and aboriginal cross curriculum content within
schools are two methods of achieving this. Aboriginal Studies was introduced in
1991 as a HSC elective, and was reviewed in 1997, with some issues, including
inaccessibility due to lack of teacher awareness and a literacy based exam
(Wray, 2008, p.1-3). One study determined that involvement of indigenous
community members was vital to reinforce and enhancing the meaning of the
classwork. Hearing first-hand accounts and having hand-on experience on
indigenous sites allowed the students to better comprehend the reality of the
cultural knowledge that was being transmitted to them (Wray, 2008, p.3-9). In
addition to being another example of the benefits of collaboration with
communities, as discussed in the previous paragraph, this demonstrates that
cultural identity can be strengthened if it is taught effectively, with recognition of
cultural identity.
The AITSL Standard 1.4, emphasises knowledge and understanding of the
impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of
students from Indigenous backgrounds (AITSL, 2011, p.9). This means that
teachers must have an understanding of how to promote indigenous cultural
identity within their class. One method of promotion put forth by the Aboriginal
Education and Training Policy is the implementation of aboriginal languages
programs (2009, p.14). The Review of Aboriginal Education determined that
Students knowledge and use of their Aboriginal languages are fundamental to
the development of their identity and enhance their self-esteem (DET and
AECG, 2004, p.113) and case studies support this. A case in Parkes high school in
2006, where a Wiradjuri language program was implemented, demonstrated
improvement, not only for indigenous students sense of pride and identity but
in the literacy abilities of some year eight students with poor language skills and
learning difficulties. This may have stemmed from different methods of learning
language, in particular through song (Troy, 2012, p.139-140). In the English
curriculum, all stages require the study of texts that contain Australian
languages and Aboriginal dialects. English teachers can utilise the benefits of
learning indigenous languages by selecting texts, such as Papunya School Book
of Country and History by Nadia Wheatley, which recounts the history of the
Anangu people and utilises the Anangu language (BOSTES, 2012, p.75). By
engaging with texts such as this, English teachers can, at a minimum, begin the
process of fostering indigenous identity through language.
Though creating formative relationships with students is only a small part of
improving the outlook for Indigenous students, it is an important part. Teachers
are on the front line and best positioned to take the first step in helping their
students reach their full potential. If a teacher implements strategies developed
from the policies described in this essay, including those described above, they
will be equipped for developing the positive relationships that represent that first
step.
Word Count: 2021
Works Cited:
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2011).
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Carlton, MYCEEDA.

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016


Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
Australian Institute of Heath and Welfare. (2014). Closing the Gap:
Positive learning environments for Indigenous children and young
people (Resource Sheet no. 33). Canberra: Australian Government.
BOSTES. (2012). English Curriculum K-10. Sydney: Board of Studies
NSW.
Department of Education and Training and Aboriginal Education
Consultative Group Inc. (2004). The Report of the Review of Aboriginal
Education. Darlinghurst: NSW Government.
Department of Education and Training. (2006). The Quality Teaching
Model. Darlinghurst: NSW Government.
Department of Education and Training. (2009). Aboriginal Education and
Training Policy: An Intrductory Guide. Darlinghurst: NSW Government.
Department of Education and training. (2010). Embedding Aboriginal
Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in schools. Brisbane: Queensland
Government.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
(2016). Conversations, Relationships, Partnerships: a resource for
Indigenous parents and communities. Canberra: Australian
Government.
Department of Education. (2015) You don't even look Aboriginal | Antiracism lesson idea for ages 10-16. NSW Government: Racism, No Way!
Retrieved 9 August 2016, from
http://www.racismnoway.com.au/teaching-resources/anti-racismactivities/lesson_ideas/20001014_18.html.
Education and Training Directorate. (2015). Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Education 2013-2014. Canberra: ACT Government.
Lawlor, K. B. (2012). SMART Goals: How the application of SMART goals can contribute to
achievement of student learning outcomes.Developments in Business Simulation and
Experiential Learning, 39.

Munns, G., O'Rourke, V., & Bodkin-Andrews, G. (2013). Seeding Success:


Schools That Work for Aboriginal Students. The Australian Journal Of
Indigenous Education, 42(01), 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jie.2013.6
Priest, N. Paradies, Y. Gunthorpe, W. Cairney, S. & Sayers, S. (2011).
Racism as a determinant of social and emotional wellbeing for
Aboriginal Australian youth. Medical Journal of Australia, 194(10), 546550.
Priest, N. Paradies, Y. Stewert, P. & Luke, J. (2016). Racism and health
among urban Aboriginal young people. BMC Public Heath, 11(568).
Sarra, Chris. Stronger Smarter Institute Limited (2014). HighExpectations Relationships: a foundation for quality learning
environments in all Australian schools. Stronger Smarter Institute
Limited Position Paper.

18563346 102085 Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies 11/08/2016


Gabrielle Magee
Assignment 1
2H
Troy, J. (2016). Language and Literacy. In K. Prince, Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Education (1st ed., pp. 131-149). Sydney:
Cambridge University Press.
Wray, D. Elizabeth. (2008). A Meaningful Exchange: The Benefits of
Aboriginal community participation in the NSW HSC Aboriginal Studies
course. In P. Jeffrey (Eds.), AARE 2008 Conference Papers Collection
[Proceedings] (p. 12 pages). Melbourne: The Australian Association for
Research in Education.