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Identify how Indigenous education and perspectives align with your professional role as an advocate for children and families.

The Importance of Including Indigenous Perspectives

Australia is the homeland of diverse Aborignal communities that account for more than 2% or 400,000 of population. The language, history and culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are integral to the national identity of the Australian nation. The nation identifies the need of supporting teachers for including indigenous perspectives in the curricula with the aim of improving outcomes of the students (Parker & Milroy, 2014). Therefore, it is imperative to include indigenous perspectives within the educational settings and school practices for developing a greater understanding of the culture, history, languages, beliefs, traditions, roles and lifestyles of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Most students belonging to the indigenous communities arrive at schools by speaking their native languages such as, Creole or Aboriginal English (Malcolm, 2013). A better understanding of the respect for indigenous cultures will help the students developed an enriched appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the nation. Therefore, it is essential to embed indigenous perspectives in schools and the learning curriculum.

An outline/plan of an authentic learning experience for prior-to-school age children

Headings

Description example

Name of Experience

Playing a board game based on matching symbols. It will assist the children to develop their awareness on their culture and will promote understanding of the appearances and lifestyles of people belonging to these indigenous communities. The game will help to incorporate multicultural resources in the form of play (Hwang, Wu & Chen, 2012).

Age group

Children belonging to the age group 3-5 years will be benefited.

Description

A board game will be designed that can be played by 4 children. The game will include pieces of padded fabrics that will contain ceremonial Aboriginal symbols. The symbols will contain boomerangs, meeting places, clap stick, didgeridoo and pictures of men and women. The children will be made to match the symbols based on their understanding of the indigenous people. It will develop their confidence and help them think about the history, culture and perspectives of the Aboriginals. The game matching will also enhance their physical and cognitive skills. It will also encourage their imagination and will instill a sense of identity.

Rationale

Young children most often learn new things by implementation of a holistic approach. Learning is usually not separated into subject areas or categories. Experience and learning is found to build on previous knowledge. Using game pieces can help in formulating children’s ideas that enhances their connectivity with their surroundings, culture and life. Games with photographs or symbols help children in developing a sense about others that makes them more familiar with people surrounding them. Furthermore, games also help in development of non-cogntivie skills such as, discipline and patience. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the preoperational stage begins from 2 years of age abd lasts approximately until 7 years. This stage encompasses engaging children in symbolic play and helping them learn manipulation of symbols. Thus, the use of board games will hone the spatial thinking, perception and reasoning power of the children, thereby contributing to their overall development and wellbeing.

Resources

· Pieces of colourful fabrics will be required for making the symbols

· Colourful threads and needles for embroidering the symbols on the fabrics

· Cardboards, markers and felt pen for making designs and boxes on the board

· The fabric pieces will be approximately of the dimensions 9cm (width) x 5cm (depth) x 11cm (height)

· Indigenous cultural symbols such as, boomerang, didgeridoo, clap stick, water hole, dingo prints, sun and foot prints

· Picture books accompanying the game to facilitate better understanding

· Drawstring bag in which the children can keep the game

· Zipped pockets to hold the fabrics

Introduction

A song or rhyme will be used to introduce the children to Aboriginal history and culture (Ramani, Siegler & Hitti, 2012). Music is generally found to nourish child development (Gerry, Unrau & Trainor, 2012). Narrating the history of indigenous people in the form of a song will help the children quickly recognize the task and they will be better able to match the pieces together.

Strategies

· Using the method of scaffolding that will break down the learning objectives into chunks. These will help the in forming a connection between the facts that are already known by the students and activities that they cannot perform on their own

· Inviting all children, including the passive ones to participate in the game to enhance their understanding of their culture, and remove discrimination

· Developing their problem solving skills that helps in building their perseverance, resilience and character

· Using a strength based approach such as, integrated teaching, reflective practice and focus on diversity and equity to explain the positive aspects of indigenous traditions and culture

Conclusion

After the children left the session, the overall experience suggested that they enjoyed participating in the matching game and displayed excellent visual and memory skills during playing. The board game helped in increasing their knowledge and also enhanced their understanding on the culture of the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders.

An outline/plan of an authentic learning experience for primary school age children

Required Headings

Description example

Name of Experience

Using information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom for enabling the students to effectively use them for gaining an increased knowledge on the indigenous culture and traditions. The ICT skills will help the students become familiar in the broadest capacity and will facilitate their understanding of the Aboriginal traditions (Chen & Hwang, 2014).

Age group

Students belonging to the age group 5-11 years will gain benefits from this experience

Description

Using an indigenous Australian teaching resource that will contain words specific to the cultures of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders along with their proper translations. The children will be taught keyboard skills and clicking and double-clicking mouse for adding appropriate pictures and texts to the words related to the indigenous culture such as, tribe, clan, fishing, bush tucker, didgeridoo, uluru and coolibah. The children will be given points based on their vocabulary and matching skills, following which the word vocabulary cards will be printed and displayed across the classroom to help them share and celebrate the language of indigenous Australians.

Rationale

Effective development of ICT skills among students is imperative for primary education (Meluso, Zheng, Spires & Lester, 2012). Evidences from several studies suggest that teachers play an essential role in helping children develop the basic skills related to information and communication technology. Use of keyboard is considered as the best way of introducing primary students to ICT skills (Kerckaert, Vanderlinde & van Braak, 2015). An overlay keyboard in combination with the game software will create provisions for pressing specific spots on the keyboard that will lead to actions on the computer screen. Repositioning the mouse with respect to the children and instructing them to click and double-click will result in beginning or pausing of the vocabulary game. Development of this ICT capability will make the children self-confident and will also boost their inquisitiveness for acquiring knowledge on the different words that exist in the indigenous vocabulary (Roberts-Holmes, 2014). Thus, implementation of ICT skill enhancement in classroom settings will foster their learning about the history, tradition, beliefs and language of the Aboriginals.

Resources

· Computer

· Overlay keyboard with enabled software

· Mouse that meets the size of children’s hands

· Mouse mat

· Online teaching resource containing indigenous Australian vocabulary terms

· Classroom bulletin boards where the printouts will be attached

· Spare blank colourful cards where extra words will be written

· Colourful markers for highlighting important words and stroking out the syllables

· Easy to use lamination machines for laminating the words before attaching them to the bulletin boards

· Tapes, adhesives and bulletin pins

· Coloured printer for printing the selected words from the vocabulary after the students have finished playing the game

Introduction

Use of mnemonic devices such as, a rhyme to help the students easily recall the words present the vocabulary. The mnemonic link system will also be used whereby a story will be designed based on the words that will be displayed in the game. It will help to improve their memory and vocabulary.

Strategies

· Invite all children to participate in the game regardless of their gender or the ethnic backgrounds and race to which they belong.

· Implementing strength based approach, which will illustrate the positive aspects of the rich history, traditions and culture of the indigenous tribes.

· Encouraging all the children to explore the wide range of options that will be made available in the game by teaching them easy ways of operating the keyboard and the mouse. This will improve their vocabulary and will help in resolving stereotypes or stigmas associated with the culture and beliefs of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Conclusion

While leaving the classroom session, the children’s behaviour and feedback suggested that the learning experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The children were happy playing the game that improved their understanding of the common words that are imperative to having a sound knowledge on the traditions and customs of the indigenous population.

There is a huge prevalence of negative attitudes towards people belonging to the Aboriginal or the Torres Strait Islander population. Unlike most people, although I do not consider indigenous people to be nomadic, primitive and drunks, I have the perception that such individuals display a violent behaviour most of the time and are get more privilege than the whites. My ignorance and false perceptions can be attributed to the fact that during my learning years, I did not get appropriate opportunities to eliminate the myths and stigmas that exist in the society, regarding indigenous tribes. The fact that I consider indigenous tribes to be uneducated when compared to the whites and that they follow poor dietary patterns and are lazy are some of the major prejudices that exist. The belief that whites are not given equal opportunities, are disadvantaged when it comes to receiving welfare from the government, and are subjected to  strict legislations from the courts and the police illustrates the presence of racist attitude in my behavior.

Although, I do not discriminate between the students while providing them education, my failure to demonstrate an unbiased attitude might create several problems in the classroom setting. It can affect interaction with the parents that may directly interfere in giving feedback about their child’s performance (Ecker, Lewandowsky, Fenton & Martin, 2014). These stereotypes may also disrupt effective conversation with the children that might make them feel disadvantaged and not cared for (Skinner et al., 2013). I can address these problems by reading texts that contain adequate information on the history and culture of the Aboriginals. Learning appropriate gestures and non-verbal communication skills will help in engaging in an effective conversation with the children and their parents. A sound understanding of words that are considered inappropriate in their culture and hiring an interpreter during such conversations will help in preventing conflicts that can arise due to diversity. 

Age-Appropriate Learning Activities

Having a sound knowledge on the contemporary and historical culture, language and identity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is essential for teaching (Vass, 2012). My major perspectives on indigenous education are focused on compulsory and free primary and superior quality education for all indigenous children, need for provisions of comprehensive and early childhood education, improvement of adult literacy and elimination of all forms of gender disparities. Although, I have some prejudices regarding the indigenous culture, I consider indigenous education of utmost importance. These perspectives will help in advocating the interests of the students and their family, who cannot speak for themselves. Thus, the perspectives on the importance of education among these people will help in eliminating their shyness and will encourage them to gain a sound understanding on their rights, through academic and cultural engagement (McCarty & Lee, 2014). The parents are also required to understand the importance of education. Therefore, it will be my professional duty to ensure that all students are being provided with equal opportunities and facilities that will help in shaping a bright future. My priority shall be to support the indigenous students academically and socially, with the aim of facilitating a smooth transition through and out of the schools.

  • Seeking help from the Aboriginal Community Elder Services (ACES) to engage older adults guide the prior to school age children in their sessions. Formulation of flexible and culturally appropriate programs. Owing to the fact that care for the young and the old is segregated, this experience will result in better interaction between the two age groups and will utilise the vast experience of the elderly in identifying and recognizing the culture and history of the indigenous people.
  • Inviting older adults from such community services and residential homes to enact stories and play related to the history and traditions of the indigenous culture will also help the children to gain a better understanding of the perspectives. It will also help the students identify the various non-verbal signs, symbols and images that are relevant to the culture.
  • The tokenistic approach can be done away with during the NAIDOC week by preventing the use of cultural artifacts, without providing relevant information about the significance or heritage of the items. Providing children with the opportunities for participating in open-ended celebrations and ensuring the usage of pictures, tokens and music relevant to the culture are some of the ways by which cultural tokenism can be avoided.

To conclude, it can be stated that an understanding of the personal history, language, values, beliefs and lifestyles of the indigenous people living in Australia plays an essential role in meeting the educational needs of the indigenous students. It is a key to improve outcomes for the students. Embedding the perspectives of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders will enhance educational experience of the non-indigenous students also. It will thereby give an accurate and rich understanding of the culture and history. 

References

Chen, N. S., & Hwang, G. J. (2014). Transforming the classrooms: innovative digital game-based learning designs and applications. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(2), 125-128. DOI- https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-014-9332-y

Ecker, U. K., Lewandowsky, S., Fenton, O., & Martin, K. (2014). Do people keep believing because they want to? Preexisting attitudes and the continued influence of misinformation. Memory & cognition, 42(2), 292-304. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-013-0358-x

Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental science, 15(3), 398-407. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01142.x

Hwang, G. J., Wu, P. H., & Chen, C. C. (2012). An online game approach for improving students’ learning performance in web-based problem-solving activities. Computers & Education, 59(4), 1246-1256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.05.009

Kerckaert, S., Vanderlinde, R., & van Braak, J. (2015). The role of ICT in early childhood education: Scale development and research on ICT use and influencing factors. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(2), 183-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2015.1016804

Malcolm, I. G. (2013). Aboriginal English: Some grammatical features and their implications. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 36(3), 267. https://doi.org/10.1086/662685

McCarty, T., & Lee, T. (2014). Critical culturally sustaining/revitalizing pedagogy and Indigenous education sovereignty. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 101-124. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.84.1.q83746nl5pj34216

Meluso, A., Zheng, M., Spires, H. A., & Lester, J. (2012). Enhancing 5th graders’ science content knowledge and self-efficacy through game-based learning. Computers & Education, 59(2), 497-504. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.019

Parker, R., & Milroy, H. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health: an overview. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 2, 25-38. Retrieved from: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/34654727/Working_Together_Book.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1516276356&Signature=suU4P%2Fpj0okY7kDRY27f7CxGtxY%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DWorking_Together_Aboriginal_Torres_Strai.pdf#page=54

Ramani, G. B., Siegler, R. S., & Hitti, A. (2012). Taking it to the classroom: Number board games as a small group learning activity. Journal of educational psychology, 104(3), 661. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028995

Roberts-Holmes, G. (2014). Playful and creative ICT pedagogical framing: a nursery school case study. Early child development and care, 184(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2013.772991

Skinner, T. C., Blick, J., Coffin, J., Dudgeon, P., Forrest, S., & Morrison, D. (2013). Comparative validation of self-report measures of negative attitudes towards Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Rural and remote health, 13(2), 1959-1. Retrieved from: https://www.rrh.org.au/journal/article/1959

Vass, G. (2012). ‘So, what is wrong with Indigenous education?’Perspective, position and power beyond a deficit discourse. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 41(2), 85-96. https://doi.org/10.1017/jie.2012.2

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