place, Culture and People – provide a framework from which pedagogy and content can be developed. Let’s look at these in more detail. “Country/place” acknowledges the connection of Indigenous peoples to the land and takes in concepts including belief systems and stewardship of the earth. It is an idea that can easily be incorporated in history-based inquiry learning, especially for younger students, as it links with constructs of home and family that are the building blocks of historical understanding and knowledge in the curriculum. It also ties in with the science syllabus, which focuses at various points on caring for living things and understanding impact on the environment. “Culture” encompasses exploring different perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ long history in Australia, as well as the Language Groups and lifestyles. Most primary
How, then, do we know what to include in our teaching about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
schools have a strong emphasis on social skills including appreciation of differences and respect which provides an appropriate context to investigate organising ideas such as, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.” Culture is also explicitly connected to the subject area of English through, for example, Foundation Year requirements of an understanding of English as one of many languages, and an emphasis on recognising the influence of other languages on English in Year 4.
The organising idea of “People” fosters an appreciation of the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to Australia and the world, recognising the role of families and kinship in the diverse clans and groups. It is most evident in the learning area of history but is also embedded in subject areas such as English through examining features and forms of literature, and in mathematics as students learn how “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies have sophisticated applications of mathematical concepts.” The Australian Curriculum cross-curriculum priorities are intended to be dynamic, changing with the evolving needs of our students in a national context. It would be nice to think that in the future, we will not need to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders histories and cultures as an
Education Today – Term 4 2012