Category Archives: Dr Tyson Yunkaporta

Protecting the “How of Learning”

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 9.35.18 PMRecently, I have viewed a documentary run by the ABC called “Kakadu“. I have also explored the 8ways of Learning. How then is Kakadu  a learning environment in which Aboriginal perspectives are found not in Aboriginal content but in Aboriginal processes?

This is a challenging question for being a writer who has no experiences of indigenous life and understandings, I  cautiously approach my reflections.  Cautiously simply out of respect not fear, I want to “as the researchers of 8Ways call it “Get it”.

And so….

“We finish for now by acknowledging and thanking our old people for keeping this knowledge and giving us our roles for working with it. We acknowledge their generosity in inviting non-Aboriginal educators to engage with this knowledge to enrich their professional practice and lived experience within Aboriginal land and communities. “

Dr Tyson Yunkaporta


“Kakadu is a learning environment in which

Aboriginal perspectives are found

not in Aboriginal content but in Aboriginal processes”

Through this post, I accept that I am discussing “Kakadu” the place not Kakadu the documentary.

Kakadu, the place, is an environment that has “educated” its inhabitants for thousands of years. It is a place of knowledge that continues to impart itself on its modern inhabitants, the traditional owners as well as those co-existing to continue to “hold together its magic”.

It is a place where the “how” of learning is reflected in its teachings. The “how” is reflected in its communal gatherings; its reflected in its language and sharing; its reflected in its survival skills; its reflected in its art; its reflected in its living. Traditional owners knew that passing on  “the how” of learning was a necessity for existence, survival and the evolution of its people. And they knew that it had to be passed on in different “ways“.

And so the connection of 8ways is highlighted.

“Rather than focusing on labeling the “what”, we’ve been seeking the “how” of Aboriginal pedagogy in a collaborative effort between the education department and the Aboriginal community. On this journey it has become clear to us that there are common points of intersection between the pedagogies of different cultures, when you start examining the “how” rather than the “what”.

Dr Tyson Yunkaporta

Kakadu, showed these intersections of pedagogies of different cultures. The traditional owners who held the  “chest of knowledge” of the land, seasonal changes, animals, food stock and flora. And the rangers who assimilated to this knowledge to best serve their needs and the needs of the traditional owners and their communities. Together they worked out “the best thing for this place. It’s about working (and learning) together.”

Kakadu is a protected place. A respected place. A place of importance to both sides of the “traditional and non-traditional fence.”

As a traditional owner from Field Island expressed in the documentary:

We have to protect these stories, their history, their artworks because that is what we educate our kids with. History, Science and Culture have found a common ground here. Then it makes it easier for all of us to look after each other.”

By protect he means to pass the “how of learning” on to the next generation and to pass it on with authenticity and respect.

To grasp this concept further I had to go back to the end of the documentary where he comments:

“ Look after the land, the land looks after you…How you look after the land makes you who you are, without land, you’re nothing.” 

This comment demonstrated a comradeship between the people and the land. The traditional owners worked together , teachers and learners, and they knew that knowledge had to be passed on from generation to generation to continue this harmonious and protected existence. “How” they passed it on was critical and therefore, the Kakadu environment sustained “community, discussion, skills development and survival”

“Old ways are recognised as the best ways”

Protecting, that is “the how of learning”, with a helicopter, traps and a gun, which was clearly demonstrated in Kakadu the documentary, is easily done without the “how of learning by traditional owners”. But the protective nature of co-existence, respecting the land and its people is something that needs to be “taught” through different ways…suggestively, the 8 ways.

“Using the knowledge of the past

to manage the park of the future”.



Filed under *Ways, 8Ways, Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, Kakadu, Learning Environment, Uncategorized