Different Perspectives on Teaching Australian History
Discuss about the Representation of Aboriginality in Modern.
The two articles “All the facts must be taught about Australia’s history by Nyunggai Warren Mundine” and “Get over it, it’s 200 years ago': Anger over uni's guidelines for teaching Australian history by Nicholas McCallum.” Present different perspectives on how the Australian history should be taught and passed to the current and the future generation management. Mr. Nyunggai Warren Mundine in his article argues that Australian history should be taught in schools without the use of politically correct language (Nyunggai, 2016). A term such as "invasion" should be not be substituted for a word such as “to settle.” The conviction illumines such argument that Australia was invaded by the British colonizers, who assumed that native people did not have private ownership of land and were deprived of structured society or any recognizable legal or civic system. In addition, Warren view history as incontrovertible and as such it should not be edited to fit any agenda. Consequently, it should be inclusive of both European and Indigenous perspectives assessing the contribution of each in the building of the modern Australia (Nyunggai, 2016).
Conversely, Mr. Nicholas McCallum in his article approaches the concept of Australian history from the point of indifference. In the article, he does more of reporting others viewpoints about how the history should be viewed than giving his thought on how history should be taught. He quotes a radio personality who thinks that explaining the historical facts as they were would divide the society. He further includes the view of Alan Jones who believes that the use of politically incorrect language would result in conflict (McCallum, 2016). The two articles thus differ significantly in that, Mr. Nyunggai’s article presents a well-articulated position on how history should be taught while Mr. McCallum offers scanty quotes of others view regarding Australian history. In addition, Nyunggai’s article advocates scrutiny of both Indigenous and European historical perspectives while McCallum article lacks any significant contribution regarding how Australian history should be approached.
Media as a powerful instrument through which information is disseminated effects how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders families and communities perceive their experience (Bullimore, 1999). Stereotypical portrayal and representation of the indigenous people by the media inculcate the sense of low self-esteem in the children of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities. Similarly, such a portrayal make the community feel guilty of its experience thus evoking ravage sentiments. Furthermore, media affects how the families pass values to the next generations and the self-perception they form of themselves (Stoneham, Goodman, & Daube, 2014).
The Role of Media in Shaping Cultural Identities
In conclusion, Mr. Warren Mundine approach in teaching Australian history should be adopted in the education system management. Adoption of such a system would allow the Australian natives develop an appreciation of their cultural identity as well as acknowledge the contributions of the European culture in the formation of the modern Australia. It will further lead to the creation of a cohesive society which is founded on mutual understanding and respect.
Cultural identity is one of the ideal values any cultural tradition can pass to its generation. As a consequence, preservation of culture has been a critical part of humanity ever since the commencement of time. The passing of traditional and cultural ideas keeps the current generations connected to the spirits of their ancestors. Although different cultures utilize various customs to construct their identity, some believe that mother tongue is the most crucial in the formation of the cultural identity (Bodkin-Andrews, & Carlson, 2016). In Australia cultural identity of the indigenous people has been interfered with since 1788 when the colonizers invaded Australia. As a result, of the invaders, the identities and cultures of the indigenous population have been eroded. Similarly, the attempt to construct the indigenous and non-indigenous cultural identities has faced numerous obstacles. The objective of the essay, therefore, is to analyze the elements which hinder the construction of the indigenous and non-indigenous cultural identities in Australia.
Media is a powerful tool for disseminating information to the society as well as forming a picture of the society in question. As such, media has the power to create a harmonious relationship between communities with varied cultural identities or antagonism. The core determinant is how it portrays the one society to the other. In Australia media has portrayed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as submissive, passive, primitive, devious, and violent people who have no culture; thus, inferior to the white invaders or non-indigenous people. Therefore, media forms the core element that hinders the reconstruction of the indigenous and non-indigenous cultural identities in Australia (Gray & Beresford, 2008). It is indisputable that, dense history of offensive, racist, and distorted representation has marked the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australia. However, the prevalent stereotypical portrayal and representation have minimized. It is thus prudent to argue that media is responsible for promoting and perpetuation of harmful stereotypes which lead to conflicts, ignorance, and insensitivity between the indigenous and the non-indigenous people.
The Role of Education in Preserving Cultural Identity
In Australia media has adopted the use of politically correct language such as referring to the European invaders as settlers (Koerner, 2015). This is a clear indication that Australian media is dependent on the contributions of the white elite actors and organizations who wish to evaluate and interpret historical events within their ideologies. As a consequence, the voice of the indigenous people is portrayed as less credible. Media fails to describe the white invasion and forceful removal of the indigenous people from their native land as a gross violation of human rights. Such attack was intended to merge, absorb or assimilate the indigenous cultural identity of the natives, hence, make them cease as a distinct group of people. The white elites appear ethically neutral when giving their interpretation and evaluation of the historical events while the aim is to guard their interests. Furthermore, their voices are often defended by some politicians, academics, and lawyers who are shareholders in their interests (Norquay & Drozdzewski, 2017).
The impact of the media representation and portrayal of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the media has a very grave impact on children, teachers, and the teaching profession. Psychology demonstrates that self-esteem, values, and attitudes are well assimilated during the teen years and at times earlier. Hence, what children pick from the media is integrated and aids them to form values, opinions, and attitudes toward others and of themselves within a society (Meadows, 2004). The portrayal and the representation of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islanders as submissive, passive, primitive, devious, and violent people who have no culture and thus inferior to the white invaders or non-indigenous people make the non-indigenous children to form a negative picture of the indigenous people. Similarly, when young indigenous people see themselves portrayed and represented as submissive, passive, primitive, devious, and violent people who have no culture and thus inferior to the white invaders or to non-indigenous people they develop low self-esteem. Media thus must learn to affirm the value of the indigenous people management, because contrary affirms that the natives are unimportant. Such portrayal makes the children to be alienated and develop a sense of helplessness and lack of control (Holmes & Julian, 2014).
A teacher’s attitude towards a subject determines how he/she delivers the content of the subject to the student. Hence, a biased teacher is likely to deliver distorted and half-truths to his/her students. In Australia, a teacher is allowed to decide what teach him /her judge to be of interest and choose to what depth to teach (Sarra, 2011). Therefore, a teacher who is non-native or who has been influenced by the media lacks the authentic understanding of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islanders. Similarly, the stereotypical media influences have penetrated into how teachers are trained. Few teachers are adequately trained on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders culture. Consequently, only a handful portion of teachers who have the skills to challenge the colonial and the media stereotypes which have become engraved in Australian’s attitudes and values. Teachers who are competent in the indigenous cultures are thus a necessity in challenging student who has inculcated colonial values to enable them to achieve a cultural identity of their own.
Challenges in Promoting Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Cultural Identities
In conclusion, it is unfortunate that many stereotypes about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders had their origin in 1788 when Australia was invaded by the Europeans, who perceived the indigenous people as inferior. More disturbing is the fact that, 200 years after the invasion these stereotypical ideas exist and propagated by both Australian and foreign media. It is sad to note that, though schools are the best avenues to challenge these stereotypes they lack the necessary resources. Especially the human resource with required quality skills to inculcate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders history, content, and culture to learners using the contemporary issues. Adequate preparation of teachers will see education become a crucial player in enhancing the balanced view of both indigenous and non-indigenous values thus promoting reconciliation. Creation of a civil society demands mutual respect from people of different cultural backgrounds. Such a mutual respect is thus vital in a multicultural country like Australia. Therefore, media and school system must be at the forefront in recognizing the importance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders cultures.
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