Where did term 1 go? I feel like the end of term arrived in the blink of an eye. I hope you have had a great term and have found a classroom rhythm of lots of new discoveries that includes Aboriginal perspectives.
The end of term 1 of course means Easter and the chocolate eggs and craft that come with it! While Easter is not an Aboriginal celebration, eggs were a big part of customary life and looking at how Aboriginal people used eggs is a great perspective for all age groups. I love that over the last couple of years we have been able to support many classrooms increase inclusions of Aboriginal perspectives by considering eggs in this way.
The protocols around egg gathering took into consideration the sustainability of the species producing them. Eggs were respected as a source of life as well as nourishment for mob. Eggs would be collected in vessels weaved by Aboriginal women from the naturally available reeds and materials of the local area.
This year our Easter printable features the artwork of Darug Artist, Chloe Webb. I hope your students enjoy colouring Chloe’s work and constructing their own basket to be filled with whatever goodies they choose.
We would love to see your completed baskets so please share them with us Facebook @wingaru and Instagram @wingaru_education.
I wish you a relaxing and safe break and look forward to sharing some more First Nations knowledge with you in term 2.
Check out our Aboriginal-themed Easter activities from previous years by clicking the "Free Resources" filter at the top of our main blog page.
Aboriginal education is an area of teaching that can have an incredible impact on the world we live in. I was thrilled when I saw that the NSW Government had introduced priority areas of teacher PD that included Aboriginal education. So many teachers reach out for support in this area. I know that this new focus will help to drive real support for educators who are striving to refine their practice and I think over the next year or two we will see so many teachers gain greater confidence.
It is an opportunity to rethink how we approach Aboriginal education and I hope that school leadership teams embrace the opportunity and work with their teachers and other stakeholders to make changes that focus on teacher capacity to drive better Aboriginal education outcomes for their entire school communities. Teachers are definitely willing to embrace the change but they need the support to do so. The time has come for decision makers to consider real change and move away from doing what they have always done in this area of education because frankly, it is not working. In NSW the introduction of priority areas for PD means that teachers will now have more opportunities to consider these much- needed new approaches.
Since we introduced PD last year, a common question I am getting is “what kind of PD should I be looking for?”. The answer will depend on individual circumstances but I think we need to focus on Aboriginal education as having two distinct but often lumped together focuses.
In an ideal world, teachers would have the opportunity to complete PD in both these areas and consider these two focuses separately and give the needed attention to both aspects. Choose PD that gives you this opportunity and the space to consider the space at your own pace.
I also suggest seeking out PD that is led by Aboriginal voices – it will give you an insight that material created by non-Aboriginal people, no matter how experienced, cannot give you.
We currently have 4 PD courses available, each delivered by two experienced Aboriginal educators and aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
I am overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have gotten. Our format - with the Aunties having a yarn - shares knowledge in a natural way. It is how Aboriginal people have been learning for thousands of years. I love that teachers are finding the content thought provoking and the activities are helping to identify resources and ideas that can be used in the classroom.
Each course can be enrolled in separately and we offer group pricing so if you are looking for PD to roll out across your school get in touch for tailored pricing. You can choose one of our courses as part of your Wingaru Kids subscription.
By bundling PD and resources, Wingaru kids is delivering a system of support that provides resources that teachers can use in the classroom and the background knowledge of how and why to use them.
The importance of local perspectives is one of the key messages associated with Aboriginal education. Every teacher is familiar with the call for local perspectives and ultimately the challenges associated with finding appropriate content.
There is no single Aboriginal culture. There were upward of 250 language groups in Australia at the time of colonisation and each group has its own culture and lore. The information that we learn about one, may not apply to another. In an ideal world we want people to be acknowledging and observing local practices, beliefs and protocols. This is where local perspectives in schools help – it is an opportunity for kids to understand that each mob is different and to understand the approach of their local community. It builds cultural competence by supporting kids to go into the world knowing that they will encounter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures that are different to the one that they have learned about and it arms them with enough awareness to support a respectful navigation of these differences.
But have local perspectives become a barrier to better Aboriginal education? More precisely, is the interpretation of local perspectives becoming a barrier? So many teachers I have spoken with are stuck because they fear that including anything that is not directly related to their local area will be seen as wrong or worse, offensive. Schools are opting to limit the inclusion of Aboriginal content and I don’t believe this was ever the intent of the call for local perspectives.
I can hear the frustration in teachers’ voices as they try to meet a goal that seems impossible because there are no resources and the school doesn’t yet have the connections it needs in the local community or the local community doesn’t currently have the capacity to provide the support the school needs. I understand how Aboriginal education ends up in the too hard basket, I really do. But that doesn’t make it ok. By reframing what we are trying to achieve with local perspectives we can eliminate the barrier, reduce your frustration and deliver better Aboriginal education outcomes.
Let’s look at the bigger picture. What are we trying to achieve? For me a focus on local perspectives does three things:
We can achieve these goals more easily without taking a “local perspectives or nothing” approach. By looking more broadly at how you can include Aboriginal content into your program you will find the task of including regular inclusions less daunting and open up opportunities for students to investigate the local approach.
Let’s use bush tucker as an example. You don’t need a resource that tells you exactly the food sources eaten by your local community pre-invasion. You can look at broader resources (like the ones we have on Wingaru Kids) to consider what factors influence food availability, what techniques were often used to obtain and prepare food and introduce the types of food sources that were available Australia wide. This gives kids the knowledge they need to start investigating what food sources may have been available in the local area, what food sources are still widely available in the area and how the availability has changed.
This approach also supports Aboriginal kids who are living off Country to apply concepts to their own mob as well as the local community they currently live in. Looking at an additional mob can lead to great discussions giving students the opportunity to compare and contrast between the local community and another mob.
It’s a simple change in approach that can make all the difference to how you are able to bring Aboriginal content into your classroom. If you are a Wingaru Kids user, you will find local perspectives worksheets in each of our lessons to support kids to apply their new knowledge to their local area.
I would love to hear about your approaches to local perspectives and the things that you are doing in your classroom.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.