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Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Education 102085 Critically Reflective

Essay by Rachel Foster 17439190

It is exceedingly important to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait


Islander students and to do so we must improve the graduate attributes of our
teachers. Australian teachers, on leaving teacher education institutions, must be
culturally competent Price, 2009

Discuss the critical issues that contribute to Aboriginal students learning,


engagement and success. Consider the factors that contribute to
disengagement for Aboriginal students and elaborate the steps you would
take as a teacher to support Aboriginal students success.

There is no doubt or question that education builds the foundation for success

and in return opens the doors to opportunities later on in life, however it is

paramount to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students that graduate attributes for teachers must improve upon leaving

teacher education (Closing the Gap: Prime Ministers Report, 2017, pg.8). In

order to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

there are numerous strategies and implementations that need to take place in

teacher education and within schools to counteract the disadvantages Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander students face. Moreover it is key to understand that

well trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers provide the foundation for a

high quality education system and quality teaching is essential to lifting student

outcomes (Closing the Gap: Prime Ministers Report, 2017, pg35). Further to

this point a vital focus that will improve graduate attributes and improve the

outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is the ability to

whole heartedly understand and respect that Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander culture is a key part of Australia national identity and as a nation we

must be vigilant in preserving the knowledge and wisdom of the worlds oldest

continuous culture. It is with great pride that we showcase to the world the art,
languages and traditional practices of our First Peoples (Closing the Gap: Prime

Ministers Report, 2017, 15). Various other steps such as the improvement of

school culture and community inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students will inherently improve student outcomes and should in large be

included within pre-service teacher education; therefore in some way creating

leaders that are culturally competent.

Firstly, in order for graduate teachers to become culturally competent it is

exceedingly important that pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to

learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in order to be able to

appreciate and respect the needs of their students. As Dr Chris Sarra points out

There is no place in any education jurisdiction for educators with stifled

perceptions of who Indigenous students are, or what they can achieve (Closing

the Gap: Prime Ministers Report, 2017, pg.35) it is evident through this remark

that pre-service teacher education needs to improve the standards in

accommodating for such education to take place. It is evident that a critical issue

that contributes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student disengagement

is the lack of cultural understanding and importance as reflected by the teacher

through education (Price, K, 2015, pg.54). Further it is clear through research

that mistakes have been made in the implementation of cross curriculum

priorities in the new NSW Curriculum, therefore it is indicative of the

disadvantages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students face. Neil Harrison

and Maxine Greenfield interject that most teachers struggled to define

Aboriginal perspectives, opting for a gloss such as, knowledge about Aboriginal

people and their past and culture and respect, acceptance and an awareness of
culture as adding an Aboriginal view across all KLAs by including information

and resources (2011, pg.69). Therefore to eradicate this misunderstanding and

gloss over of Aboriginal culture, it should be the focus of educators to

communicate and liaise with local Aboriginal communities to address and

implement the most effective way to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

culture within the curriculum, therefore supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander students success.

Secondly, another critical issue that affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students is writing and literacy skills. There are indications and reports that

express the idea that one of the most evaluated, reviewed and inquired about

areas of education in Australia is Aboriginal education. Yet education systems

around the nation have been unable to deliver the same levels of success for

Aboriginal students as they do, for other students (The Report of the Review of

Aboriginal Education, 2004, pg.11). This clearly indicates that there is a missing

link between the education Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are

receiving, therefore it is only more important that graduate teacher attributes

address these needs for their future students and therefore become more

culturally competent. It is the opinion of this argument that the lack of success

documented for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is not lack of skill

or ability but the inability for these students to connect and access the

curriculum; when students are not achieving and experiencing success in their

learning students will disengage and in turn exacerbate the problem (The Report

of the Review of Aboriginal Education, 2004, 73). Therefore to elevate and rectify

this critical issue a teacher should take an approach that addresses effective
curriculum and pedagogy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, it is

imperative for a teacher to have deep knowledge and understanding of the

syllabus outcomes and syllabus requirements as well as knowing who their

Aboriginal students are and knowing their families (The Report of the Review of

Aboriginal Education, 2004, pg.78). In all it is the belief that creating an effective

curriculum and pedagogy would contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander student learning, engagement and success. However these skills and

cultural competencies need be addressed and built upon within teacher

education programs.

Thirdly and most importantly, a critical issue that contributes to Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander students disadvantage is the missing link between home,

community and education. It is evident through various reports that these

elements need to interlink in order for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students to succeed in their education. The Report of the Review of Aboriginal

Education concluded that the important role that parents play in their childrens

development both at home and at school and the need to more fully support

parents participation in their childrens education are keys to improving the

home-classroom link and achieving equitable outcomes for Aboriginal students

(2004, pg.80). It is the argument that graduate teachers do need to be more

culturally competent with regards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students education, wellbeing and needs. And this is further amplified by the

opinion of Noel Pearson (2009) who states that non-Aboriginal teachers should

not be teaching about Aboriginal cultures, knowledge and identity because the

children really only learn stereotypes of Aboriginality (Neil Harrison and


Maxine Greenfield, 2011, pg.66). Although there would be many would disagree

with elements of this argument it is evident that graduate teachers and perhaps

long serving teachers do not qualify as the best options to be sharing knowledge

on Aboriginal culture, therefore to elaborate on ways in which a teacher would

support Aboriginal education would be to integrate the local community and

partnerships with parents. Moreover research supports this ideology by stating

that building strong local community partnerships with parents, community

members and Elders would provide there critical understanding of factors that

inhibit students from engaging (Gawain H Bodkins Andrews, Nina Denson and

Peter Bansel, 2013, pg. 226)(The Report of the Review of Aboriginal Education,

2004, pg.116). Further to this point graduate teachers are now expected to work

closely with parents and other people in their school community to enhance

student learning in the classroom, therefore it is opinion that graduate teacher

education programs need to build links between there practicing school and

communities in order to provide avenues for pre-service teachers to build

relationship with community members and become more culturally competent

(Neil Harrison and Belinda Murray, 2012, pg.139).

In addition another way of addressing the critical issue Aboriginal and Torres

Strait Islander students face being the lack of relationship between home, school

and community is to improve the graduate teaching outcomes in education

programs. An issue that can generate more cultural competence in education

around the idea that multicultural and anti racist education is paramount and

that all pre service educators need to be aware and understand the importance
of building a stamina to sustain conscious and explicit engagement surrounding

issues of race (Robin DiAngelo, 2011, pg. 66)(Price, K, 2015, pg. 3). Moreover in

order to build relationships between home, school and community for Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander students it is important that teachers are aware of the

protocols surrounding community consultation. It is also imperative that

teachers respect that Aboriginal people are the owners and custodians of their

knowledge and culture. Therefore to reiterate the argument made earlier in

order to rectify the issue of cultural misunderstanding surrounding Aboriginal

cultural education, parents, community members and Elders have the right to be

consulted when aspects of Aboriginal history and culture are being incorporated

into the school curriculum (Working with Aboriginal Communities: A guide to

Community Consultation and Protocols by the Board of Studies NSW, 2008,

pg.2). In further elaboration on how this would be effective for a teacher to

implement to support Aboriginal student success is the idea that working

closely with Aboriginal people is the most effective method of assisting student-

teachers to understand and empathise with an Aboriginal perspective (Neil

Harrison and Belinda Murray, 2012, pg. 139). However another example of how

a teacher could take steps to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

students success is to not solely rely on texts, when addressing curriculum

outcomes and syllabus information; in many cases these can provide only a

national view of Aboriginal history and culture. It is important to consult

wherever possible with the local community (Working with Aboriginal

Communities: A guide to Community Consultation and Protocols by the Board of

Studies NSW, 2008, pg., 14). Therefore it is clear that there are ways in which
teachers can take steps to improve the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander students within their own classrooms and schools.

In conclusion, the arguments put forward agree with the idea that it is

exceedingly important to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander students, and to do so improvements must be made to graduate teacher

attributes on leaving education institutions (Price, 2009, pg. n/a). Moreover it is

important to state that high quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

education is recognised as a key determinant in improving the quality of life for

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, in addition to this however it is

important to build relationships with parents, community members and Elders

to recreate the link between home, school and community for these students

(Indigenous Education and teacher Professional Development: The Australian

Professional Standards for Teachers in Australia, n/a, pg.2)(Neil Harrison and

Belinda Murray, 2012, pg.139). In retrospect it is important also to state that

teachers need to commit themselves to valuing and reflecting upon Aboriginal

knowledge and using this awareness to situate Aboriginal perspectives in the

curriculum (Neil Harrison and Belinda Murray, 2012, pg.139). In reference to

this point it sums up the argument that pre-service teacher education needs to

address the ownership of Aboriginal knowledge and culture and to reflect upon

these ideologies with professional relationships (Neil Harrison and Belinda

Murray, 2012, pg. 140). Therefore it has been made apparent the critical issues

that contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students learning,

engagement and success. Moreover it has also been communicated and


elaborated the steps a teacher could take through research to improve and

support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students success and achievability.

Reference List:

Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (2017)


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