Indigenous Peoples and Cultures

This unit offers opportunities to learn from and through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Focusing on the diversity of Indigenous Australia, with particular emphasis on the cultures and histories of the region in which it is being taught, this unit involves Elders and community members and references local resources. This unit is an intensive journeying in knowledge and learning, which not only deepens understanding of the ‘other’, but also of one’s self, and of our common humanity.

Course EDAB111 Indigenous Peoples and Cultures
Course dates 10 - 21 July, 2017
Lecturer(s) Dr Zuzanka Kutena and Associate Professor Nerida Blair
Form(s) of teaching Face-to-face teaching, seminars, lectures, workshops, guest speakers and field work
Form(s) of assessment Group presentation and written assessments
ACU credit points 10
ECTS Credits 7.5
US Credits 3 or 4
Contact hours 36 hours (Class teaching and field word)

This course should appeal to students who are open to experiencing new ways of thinking and understanding the world.  Students studying education, human rights and social justice, health, law, environmental studies, sustainability and globalization will all find their attitudes and knowledge challenged and broadened though engagement with Indigenous perspectives.

This unit offers opportunities to learn from and through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.  The holistic nature of Indigenous worldview and perspectives at the centre of this unit, make it relevant to a number of areas of learning.

Enhancing respect for and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories and the role Indigenous studies has within the Australian context lends itself to gaining newer inter-cultural insight and understanding on the interconnectedness of Indigenous worldview. This provides for a re-contextualising of Country, identity and belonging, culture, knowledge, sustainability, law, and wellbeing, illustrating the relevance and richness contained within Indigenous perspectives.

Focusing on the diversity of Indigenous Australia, with particular emphasis on the cultures and histories of the region in which it is being taught, this unit involves Elders and community members and references local resources. Major themes will include Indigenous ontologies, epistemologies and pedagogies, illustrating their relevance in addressing many of the major challenges confronting humanity today. This unit is an intensive journeying in knowledge and learning, which not only deepens understanding of the ‘other’, but also of one’s self, and of our common humanity.

Topics will include
  • An overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Western ontologies, epistemologies and pedagogies.
  • An overview of the nature and origins of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in the curriculum of the State and Territory of course offering.
  • An analysis of contemporary issues impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with particular reference to education.
  • An overview of the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in the State and Territory of course offering.
  • Government policies impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education at local, state, national and international levels.
  • An understanding of the dialogue occurring in history circles concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories.
  • An understanding and analysis of the development and implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives across curriculum.
  • An understanding of Story in the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
  • An understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and associated mediums and their use in developing and teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and/or adding Aboriginal perspectives.Theories of racism and ‘whiteness’: the analysis of how racism has been experienced by, and has affected the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through stereotyping, negative imagery and scapegoating.

Excursions and site visits will be a feature of this two week study. Field trips offer the opportunity of experiential learning through cultural immersion. Site visits will include:

  • Berry Island Reserve; Education officer, Aboriginal Heritage Office.
  • La Perouse Aboriginal Community; Elders and Custodians (Nominal fee, TBA)

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • reflect on and evaluate personal and community attitudes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures
  • incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content across a range of curriculum and key learning areas in schools
  • demonstrate an understanding of the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in schools in local, State and Territory schools and the principal strategies that can be adopted to address these needs
  • appraise the impact of colonial and post-colonial experiences on relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • communicate effectively in cross cultural situations, particularly those involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal peoples

Archibald, J.(2008). Indigenous storywork: Educating the heart, mind, body and spirit. Vancouver, BC, Canada:UBC Press.

Battiste, M., & Henderson, J. Y. (2000). Protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage. A global challenge. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: Purich.

Bawaka Country et al. (2014). Working with and learningfrom Country: decentringhuman author-ity. Cultural geographies2015, Vol. 22(2) 269–283

Blair, N., (2015) Privileging Australian indigenous knowledge: sweet potatoes, spiders, waterlilys & brick, USA: Commonground,

Collins-Gearing, B, & Osland, D. (2010). Who will save us from the rabbits?: Rewriting the past allegorically. InThe looking glass: New perspectives on children's literature, Vol 14, No 2.

Harrison, N. (2008). Teaching and learning in Indigenous education. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Hanlen, W. (2008) Cultural Insights into Indigenous Literacies – Royal Far West School case study, Paper presented at Future Directions in Literacy Conference: Local Conversations, University of Sydney, Sydney.

Martin, K. (2008). Please knock before you enter: Aboriginal regulator of outsiders and the implication for researchers. Teneriffe, Qld: Post Pressed.

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities. (2012). 8 ways Aboriginal pedagogy, Dubbo, NSW: The Bangamalanha Centre.

Phillips, J., & Lampert, J. (2012). Introductory Indigenous studies in education. Reflection and the importance of knowing (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia

Tuhiwai Smith, L., (2012). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. 2nd Edition, Zed Books, N.Y. and London.

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