The challenges for any teacher with indigenous students is to comprehend indigenous learning styles combined with westernized styles of learning. It’s about incorporating one’s own perspectives and how this is catered for others through the pedagogy. This is crucial to the success of an indigenous student’s understanding and future applications of the knowledge.
It all starts with understanding the indigenous ways of learning and their motivations to study. In the indigenous culture the most profound feeling is a connection to the land and to the community. The motivation to continue on to year 11 and 12, and onto university is to make a contribution to their community and make a difference. While non-indigenous students appear motivated by money and pathways into their desired career, Indigenous students motivation to make a difference in the community far outweighs that of non-Indigenous students. The message here for teachers is that no matter what you think would become a successful outcome for a student, when you celebrate their achievements as they work closer to their motivations to study, you begin to see a difference for the way students are supported.
After reviewing many schools indigenous programs, the one that keeps appearing is the concept known as the ‘Circle model’. This program encourages teachers to meet indigenous students in the community, hear from their stores for the future, then be able to teach the content so it connects back to their real life story. The ultimate aim of the circle is to close the circle by the students leaving the program, using their skills and new knowledge for their community life.
With this in mind here are my 10 recommendations to implement Aboriginal processes into schools, as these ideas confirm what the concept of ‘Closing the Circle’ stands for and what it sets out to achieve.
Teachers can use Aboriginal processes to:
1. Foster pride and confidence in Aboriginal intellectual capacity
The students need to feel that they are equals in the classrooms as the non-indigenous students. They need to feel comfortable in their environment to have the confidence to learn and grow as a person
2. Find common links between mainstream practice and Indigenous ways
Tie the indigenous students sense of community and story telling to all subjects being learned. The students need to see the link between their study and how it can help them contribute to their community.
3. Help students understand aspects of mainstream content
Incorporate the students into modern ways of learning. Develop their appreciation for technology, science and maths.
4. Indigenize the learning environment/ curriculum content
Find indigenous people in history who have made a contribution to that particular field of study being learned. Connect the curriculum to indigenous story telling and how it relates to their community.
5. Inform Behaviour management approaches
Students need to conduct themselves in the appropriate manner in the classroom so all students can make the most of their learning experience
6. Change paradigms in and out of the classroom
Change the way the students think about themselves, their education and their ability to absorb and learn a topic
7. Inform the structure of lessons, units and courses
The indigenous students need to understand that learning needs to be done under a particular structure in the modern day classroom.
8. Increase the intellectual rigor of learning activities
Make the learning visual. Incorporate hands on learning. Utilize technology as a tool for innovative learning.
9. Inform understandings/ innovations of systems and processes
Reinforce the ever developing technology which is relevant to learning and how best to apply these technologies to enhance learning
10. Implicitly ground all teaching and learning in Aboriginal ways of knowing
Apply themes of indigenous story telling and community to the classroom and incorporate these themes in the curriculum.
Be sure to book one of the final seat for the Indigenous Education & Transitions conference next week.
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