I often get questions from parents who are keen for their kids to learn more about Aboriginal people, history and culture. Many are concerned about the lack of First Nations content in their child’s education or the quality of Aboriginal education that is taught without true inclusion of an Aboriginal perspective.
I understand these concerns. I have spoken to many schools who dismiss Aboriginal perspectives as “not a priority”, usually because they don’t have many Aboriginal students. This approach is concerning given the inclusion of Aboriginal content in the curriculum for all students. But I believe it is important for parents not to assume this is the attitude of your school until you have had a conversation with them. Many schools are quite open about wanting to improve their approach to Aboriginal perspectives. There are often lots of factors at play and approaching your school with openness can help reach the outcome you are hoping for.
I like to remind people that Aboriginal perspectives hasn’t always enjoyed the priority is has now. For many teachers, we are asking them to teach something that they themselves did not learn about so they may be finding their feet. We want to support them as they do this, help them to find an approach they are comfortable with while ensuring high quality Aboriginal education for our kids.
Here are some suggestions I have about how you could support Aboriginal education at your school.
I would love to hear about how your school approaches Aboriginal education. Are you happy with the approach? What do you love? What do you think they could do better? What are the changes you would like to see?
This year I chose not to engage in the Change the Date debate. It is too exhausting. I cannot face the racism that floods media and social media on this day. It is too ignorant and too frustrating, too much. How in this day and age are there so many people who cannot see that 26 January is not the date to celebrate and that it is time to move the celebration to another, more inclusive date?
Instead I am focusing on the increasing number of Australians who are working to support our First Nations communities – the allies who are taking the time and making the effort to get educated and support our communities by acknowledging our trauma, embracing truth about our history and fostering understanding by sharing this truth. Because this is how we move forward together.
Teachers, who are one of our greatest influencer groups and play a significant role in leading change, often ask me how they can support First Nations communities and be a strong ally for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are lots of things educators can do to support our communities and I love that so many are seeking advice on how they can provide support in a culturally appropriate way. Small things, like some of the ideas below, may make an Aboriginal child feel supported and start to open up or support a non-Aboriginal child to start on their own journey of being a strong ally.
I have talked before about ways to be a good ally and taking an anti-racism approach so I won’t go into those again – we all know how important standing up and speaking up is. Here are some other ways teachers can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
As always, pick actions that feel comfortable for you, don’t feel you have to do it all. Any support is appreciated! I woulod love to hear about the things you do to support our communities.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.