Category Archives: aboriginal learning space

Aligning (Not Combining) Aboriginal and Western Pedagogy …I Just Don’t Get It!

I have just been asked to re-design a current unit of work, which would be used in the classroom, with both current curriculum and 8Ways Pedagogy of Thinking. 

At first, I had no idea where to start…no idea. Do I start from an Aboriginal perspective or from my original perspective?

So, being “Implementation of 8Ways Illiterate” I started with what I knew. That is, the unit “Global Environments – Rainforests” from the New South Wales Board of Studies website. Nothing too exciting till my feet “got off the ground” with the idea of aligning two pedagogies.

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Not Just Aboriginal Processes

I am a 43 year old student with three young children. Obviously, they are the most beautiful, smartest, inspiring, wonderful human beings on the planet…that’s my job as their mother to “worship them”. But the mother also asks many, many questions every day as to whether I am doing a “good job” as a parent.

At this point I refer back to my own parents, migrants to Australia over 60 years ago. Migrants who worked hard and valued what was so precious in this country…freedom, land and a future. Four years ago, the first time in my life, I decided to go overseas to my father’s village in the remote mountains to see “where he grew up”. And this is where I say it is “Not Just Aboriginal”.

On reading the 8Ways comment that “Aboriginal perspectives do not come from Aboriginal topics, but from Aboriginal approaches to topics” I realised that this was evident in my own experiences overseas. This remote village is still “behind” in terms of our day to day gadgets. In fact, the electricity supply is near nill, the sanitary systems are a local truck and the feral pigs are your closest nightly neighbours. But these “village people”, in my eyes, have the best life! They don’t go to markets for food, they are markets! They prepare for changes in seasons by drying out abundant foods on the flat rooftops in the summer awaiting the blizzards of the winter. They exchange food and needs.

But the aspect that most intrigued me was language and “growing up native”. Young people instinctively stayed up night after night with the “elders” from the village…sitting and listening to stories and being a part of the community. There wasn’t a TV set in another room happening for them. The expectation was that they were just as valuable in the conversation as the 90 year old smoking his pipe in the circle. The teenagers “adored” the elders and socialised with them. They had an incredible connection to their faith, their  equivalent “dreamtime”, their ancestors. The language was “knowledge”. How to prepare foods, where to get a supply from, exchange of land knowledge. I cannot explain the life that existed in this tiny village.

There may have been minimal power supply but the “life generated” was the most powerful experience I have ever had. And so I say, it is “Not Just Aboriginal” who “know” this. Aboriginals and these tiny villages all over the planet have existed for thousands of years and knowledge was transcended from generation to the next. The knowledge “pass-on” dwindled when we started to think we were smarter and had “better ways of doing”. This often comes at the expense of the traditional.

I have seen in this village how an elder can give to a child so much intellect and “natural giftedness” and “timeless wisdom” at the same time that child Skype’s a friend in the city. I pray that I didn’t wait too long to attain their “Ways of Knowing” to pass on to my children before they become just “Dreamtime stories” in a report somewhere.

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Filed under 8Ways, aboriginal learning space, Learning Environment