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Issues Related to Technical Knowledge

Indigenous Australians are the first people of Australia who belong to an Australian ethnic group with familial heritage and membership. In NSW, Indigenous students are the youngest members of the oldest cultural group (Perso & Hayward, 2020). Appropriate education helps Indigenous children, as well as adult learners, enjoy and exercise their cultural, social, and economic rights. It further helps to strengthen their ability in order to exercise their civil rights such that they can influence the political policy processes to enhance human rights protection (Hogarth, 2018).  Educating Indigenous Australians requires the teacher to be culturally aware and involve effective communication skills that help develop trust and understanding among the Indigenous students (Perso & Hayward, 2020). In this paper, a discussion will be held regarding the changes that need to be incorporated into NSW schools for better coordination and to improve the engagement of the Indigenous.

The paper includes issues related to technical knowledge related to the culture and history of Indigenous Australians, the use of appropriate pedagogical practice for better engagement with the Indigenous students, and reflection on my views of teaching as well as theoretical consideration of best practices for engaging with the students. The paper focuses on Indigenous students and the ways of improving their engagement in NSW schools.

Among the Indigenous people, lack of resources and lack of respect cause a critical gap in education. The education system and their disrespectful behaviour towards Indigenous people and their diverse cultures can be a barrier to seeking education and building trust towards non-Indigenous ones (Hogarth, 2018). Further, fewer teachers who speak their language and a lack of basic materials at school generate an unwillingness to continue with education. Next, there is a rare availability of educational materials providing accurate as well as fair information related to the Indigenous community and their ways of living (Perso & Hayward, 2020).  Although various international instruments proclaim universal rights to education, these rights are not enjoyed by the Indigenous people, resulting in an educational gap between the Indigenous people and others (Hogarth, 2018). In Australia, the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were included in school curriculum and were identified as a priority area in educational policy for development to promote mutual respect and promote understanding (Wilches, Medina & Gutiérrez, 2018).

The educational authority has needed the teachers to embed Indigenous perspectives. Majority of the teachers showed concern about lacking the skills and knowledge for implementing the same. This resulted in the development of the Australian curriculum, which includes concerns for reconciliation through education (Hogarth, 2018). This curriculum has a general capacity and Cross-Curricular Priority, promoting an understanding of intercultural relations in students. Education related to the histories and cultures of Indigenous populations helped to deepen the learning of the students as well as the teachers to engage with the Indigenous cultures (Baynes, 2016).

Quality teaching can be promoted by engaging with the local Indigenous communities to provide educational outcomes to Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous students. Identifying the concerns and questions that schools and teachers have about the curriculum initiative includes issues such as how teachers integrate the Indigenous perspective and how a non-Indigenous teachers can promote cultural safety when they face challenges and barriers in their community (Shay, Miller & Hameed, 2021). Lack of awareness of Indigenous culture, differences in perspectives, a lack of resources, as well as access to professional development may all have an impact on the Indigenous student’s quality of education (Baynes, 2016; Perso & Hayward, 2020). Teachers were hesitant to incorporate the content of Indigenous culture when they had no expertise in this subject. Furthermore, schools with a higher proportion of Indigenous students reported non-Indigenous teachers avoiding Indigenous perspectives due to discomfort and fear of crossing cultural boundaries (Perso & Hayward, 2020). It calls for participation in active learning that is based on professional development programs designed for the inclusion of cultural knowledge in teaching. With the professional development process, the teachers were reassured that knowledge related to Aboriginal culture could form part of the mainstream curriculum (Baynes, 2016). 

Pedagogical Practice for Better Engagement

Ways of educating Indigenous students include knowing their culture and history. Students belonging to the Aboriginal community might avoid direct eye contact and are less likely to answer questions because they don’t want to be the centre of attention, which is misdiagnosed by the teachers, causing soft racism (Hogarth, 2018). As a teacher, it is important to incorporate certain methods that best help in engaging the Indigenous students in the class. The use of storytelling in teaching with visual cues supports Aboriginal students to learn better instead of reading and processing materials directly. Furthermore, the students might feel difficulty in letting their teachers know when they are struggling to understand something because of sensitivity to feeling shameful, making them keep quiet (Shay, Miller & Hameed, 2021).

The strategies that can be incorporated or the changes that need to be made for better coordination and to increase the engagement of the Indigenous students include checking with them whether they can understand as well as absorb knowledge taught in class without making them feel ashamed if they are not understanding (Bishop & Durksen, 2020). Furthermore, many Aboriginal children often suffer from untreated ear infections, leading to loss of hearing, and that’s the reason why they are not speaking loudly or listening. Thus, teachers need to understand their situation rather than assume they are rude, arrogant, and stiff (Wilches, Medina & Gutiérrez, 2018).

Teaching Indigenous students requires conveying a "relatedness" that is a key feature of the worldviews of Aboriginals. It emerges from the connectedness to all living things, and it is the foundation of Aboriginal culture, spirituality, and tradition. The inclusion of Aboriginal stories, as well as achievements, can generate a sense of being valued and accepted among the Aboriginal students, which further boosts their sense of identity (Perso & Hayward, 2020). When the lessons are relevant and applicable to everyday activities, improvement will result. A sense of relatedness can help the students answer the question "Who am I?" (Perso & Hayward, 2020). 

At the Queensland University of Technology, the Teaching Indigenous Maths Education (TIME) program related mathematics classes to daily tasks like sports and shopping, which resulted in the students' being more engaged, and a few of them achieved A-level results, and no one got an E-level (Fogarty et al., 2018). Furthermore, as for most of the Indigenous children, English was their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language, the changes involve the teachers' being able to explain things more than once in more than one way to enable the students to learn as well understand (Hogarth, 2018). Because children in Indigenous cultures are raised in communities and knowledge is passed down through repetitive story-telling, the use of story-telling in teaching can help Indigenous students learn more effectively than simply reading and processing the material. Storytelling with visual cues can be an interactive approach (Shay, Miller & Hameed, 2021).

In 2018, UNESCO, together with the Indigenous peoples, a permanent forum on Indigenous issues, member states, a special rapporteur on Indigenous rights, as well as international stakeholders, an action plan was used for the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019) (Fogarty et al., 2018). IYIL 2019 will aid in the promotion of Indigenous languages in five key areas. The first one includes increasing recognition, understanding, and international cooperation. The next step is to foster knowledge sharing and disseminate best practices related to Indigenous languages (Fogarty et al., 2018).

Reflection on Views of Teaching

Next, these languages will be further integrated into standard settings. It includes empowerment through building capacity and the development and growth of new knowledge elaboration. Indigenous pedagogy incorporates worldviews into engagement with information. It starts with understanding the importance of Indigenous perspectives in science and other areas (Shay, Miller & Hameed, 2021). Through the introduction of Indigenous perspectives in teaching, students will develop their ability to think critically when exploring environmental and socialproblems (Chichekian, Bragoli-Barzan & Rahimi, 2022). They will be able to increase understanding and respect for other cultures and be aware of the relationships between people as well as their environments (Bishop & Durksen, 2020).  Lastly, it will help in understanding the history of Australia’s Indigenous people (Pratt et al., 2018). Next, the involvement of Aboriginals in teaching Indigenous knowledge and involving the local Aboriginal community in programs related to education can help to involve Indigenous perspectives (Wilches, Medina & Gutiérrez, 2018).  Furthermore, the use of teacher support materials is encouraged as the Australian National Maritime Museum and New South Wales Department of Education are developing teacher support materials on their websites (Madden, 2015).

I incorporated all the strategies while educating the Indigenous students and helped them attain knowledge and reduce their fear and shame. I incorporated a pedagogy that aids in the enhancement of student experiences by bridging cultural divides through the creation of cultural harmony and viewing education as a component of collective wisdom (Madden, 2015; Chichekian, Bragoli-Barzan & Rahimi, 2022).  We involved first-year introductory Indigeneous studies, which were divided into 2 sections. The 1st section was about the Indigenous culture, and the 2nd was on the political history of the relationships between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people (Pratt et al., 2018). Each of the teachers taught a specific section and the subject involved 12 weeks of teaching. I taught the first section for weeks 1 to 4 and during my first week, I taught Representation, Images, and Ethical Considerations. In the second week, I taught "The Dreaming," Aboriginal religion; in the third week, I taught social organization, what is "law"? Customary law, law and practices, and the contemporary world (Heckenberg & Gunstone, 2013). In my fourth week, I taught family, kinship, social organization, and languages. While teaching every section, I drew much information from the lived experiences as well as the instructions, which were drawn from the old people (Bishop & Durksen, 2020).

During the start of the section, students were listening attentively to each other’s stories. Sooner, their interest in some of the philosophies emerges. And by the end of the fourth week, they understood their right to traditional land, the impact of racism, their right to speak freely, etc. (Hogarth, 2018). During the first week, I tried to interact with the students and allowed them to discuss their issues. However, I knew that the Indigenous people are shy and try to keep things to themselves. Thus, I asked the non-Indigenous students to share their stories, which gave the Indigenous students more time to be comfortable and get inspiration from others. Furthermore, I tried not to make the Indigenous people feel that they were being ignored or avoided. Further, I tried to make eye contact, but for a short time. In the second week, the Indigenous students were eager to share their stories or cultural beliefs (Bishop & Durksen, 2020). I utilized the experience of the Indigenous community and their voice within teaching. By the end of the fourth week, the students were more eager to gather knowledge and could express themselves more effectively (Heckenberg & Gunstone, 2013).

Conclusion

Thus, while teaching the Indigenous students, it is important to involve strategies that are appropriate and align with their cultural beliefs and values. For a teacher, it is important to be aware of their culture so that misinterpretation of their behaviours does not occur. Being calm and having patience while communicating or interacting with the Indigenous students is important to generate lasting change. Through the introduction of Indigenous perspectives in teaching, the students will develop critical thinking when exploring social problems. They will be able to increase understanding and respect for other cultures. They will also be aware of the relationships between people as well as their environments. The use of simple language and asking them whether they understand the lesson or not is important to make them believe that they are valued. Thus, all these together help in educating the Indigenous students and reducing their hesitance, thus increasing their willingness to continue their education. 

References

Baynes, R. (2016). Teachers’ attitudes to including Indigenous knowledges in the Australian science curriculum. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 45(1), 80-90. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/australian-journal-of-Indigenous-education/article/teachers-attitudes-to-including-Indigenous-knowledges-in-the-australian-science-curriculum/FEBB21206AC08A8DD08D25D74040089C

Bishop, M., & Durksen, T. L. (2020). What are the personal attributes a teacher needs to engage Indigenous students effectively in the learning process? Re-viewing the literature. Educational Research, 62(2), 181-198. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131881.2020.1755334

Chichekian, T., Bragoli-Barzan, L., & Rahimi, S. (2022, January). Pedagogical and Personal Experiences Motivating Indigenous Students to Pursue Medical Studies. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 6, p. 788909). Frontiers Media SA. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2021.788909/pdf

Fogarty, W., Riddle, S., Lovell, M., & Wilson, B. (2018). Indigenous education and literacy policy in Australia: Bringing learning back to the debate. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 47(2), 185-197. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/australian-journal-of-Indigenous-education/article/Indigenous-education-and-literacy-policy-in-australia-bringing-learning-back-to-the-debate/726CD6BFEA5F984DF8ECD650379611BA

Heckenberg, R., & Gunstone, A. (2013). Reflections on Teaching a First-Year Indigenous Australian Studies Subject. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 12(1), 213-225. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1017682

Hogarth, M. (2018). Talkin’bout a revolution: The call for transformation and reform in Indigenous education. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(5), 663-674. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13384-018-0277-8

Hogarth, M. D. (2018). Addressing the rights of Indigenous peoples in education: A critical analysis of Indigenous education policy (Doctoral dissertation, Queensland University of Technology). https://eprints.qut.edu.au/118573/

Madden, B. (2015). Pedagogical pathways for Indigenous education with/in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 51, 1-15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0742051X15000840

Perso, T., & Hayward, C. (2020). Teaching Indigenous students: Cultural awareness and classroom strategies for improving learning outcomes. Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003117728/teaching-Indigenous-students-thelma-perso-colleen-hayward

Pratt, Y. P., Louie, D. W., Hanson, A. J., & Ottmann, J. (2018). Indigenous education and decolonization. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. https://oxfordre.com/education/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-240

Shay, M., Miller, J., & Hameed, S. (2021). Excellence is the future of Indigenous education. https://www.teachermagazine.com/au_en/articles/excellence-is-the-future-of-Indigenous-education

Wilches, J. A. U., Medina, J. M. O., & Gutiérrez, C. (2018). Indigenous Students Learning English in Higher Education. Íkala, revista de lenguaje y cultura, 23(2), 229-254. https://www.redalyc.org/journal/2550/255057349002/255057349002.pdf

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