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Embedding Indigenous Perspectives in the Classroom

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

By implementing Indigenous perspectives inside the classroom, schools can change and offer better outcomes for indigenous students.

By providing an understanding of Australia's Indigenous peoples — their culture, languages, beliefs, values, histories and lifestyles — educators can meet the educational needs of indigenous students and can help them in practical ways. Doing so will improve their attendance, retention and engagement in the classroom. Entwining Indigenous values into the education system and teaching Indigenous perspectives has improved outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

But what are the Indigenous Perspectives?

Aboriginal culture is closely aligned to the environment and nature, in particular the cycles and patterns of the land. The link between the land, language, and culture affects the majority of the Indigenous perspective. For example, ties to the Country can affect how land is treated and perceived, not as a resource but as an extension of the Indigenous group. Collective knowledge and perspectives are shared among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whereas individual and family experiences and local history can influence personal views. Though books and education provide an insight into 'Indigenous perspectives', these are often generalisations that often cause the homogenisation of Indigenous peoples.

So how do we rethink our perspectives?

Instilling Indigenous perspectives in the classroom will improve the educational and indigenous insights of non-indigenous students. By providing these perspectives in the classroom, students, either Indigenous or non-Indigenous, will gain an accurate and richer understanding of Australia's history and culture and help them understand how we got to the present and how we might move forward.

Educators and institutions are being called to build bridges between the Indigenous and Western educational systems to achieve positive outcomes for all students, especially Indigenous students. However, the challenge remains to bring together Western scientific and disciplinary knowledge and Indigenous' responsive, active ecological knowledge that views' language, land, and identity as interdependent in a unique way and constantly renewed and reconfigured'.

It is essential to recognise and respect each other's perspectives, how others view the world around them, and to respect our views and find a place where students can meet, learn and grow. The possible solution for this challenge is to create a 'third cultural space' that recognises Indigenous communities' deep cultural and world views. When Western and Indigenous systems are equally valued and acknowledged, the overlapping of systems can present a new method of education.

At Nhuubala Yugal Education Centre, we embed these perspectives into the classroom so that Indigenous and non-Indigenous students recognise and understand the Aboriginal perspectives. By providing these perspectives in our classroom, we encourage students and staff to rethink Aboriginal perspectives, challenge their perceptions, and foster a lifelong learning process in mutually working together to understand each other.

Written by Izabela Miletic

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