Indigenous Terms Of Reference ITR Education Essay

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This presentation demonstrates what ITR is, and its great importance in recognising and respecting the diverse Indigenous Australian cultures within Australia, by giving them a voice in societal issues. Going on to demonstrate how ITR processes are critical in education, to ensure; the implementation of a culturally respectful national curriculum, and developing locally specific learning programmes and experiences in classrooms that uphold the cultural integrity of relevant Indigenous Australian people's groups, to enhance the learning for all students.

ITR is a process in which all aspects of Indigenous Australian culture is respectfully integrated into the decision-making process of issues that have an Indigenous perspective (Curtin University, 2012). By acknowledging, respecting and integrating Indigenous Australians; values, knowledge, experiences, and aspirations into decisions that affect both Indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders, the cultural integrity of all stakeholders are upheld (Curtin University, 2012; Truscott, 2012). The ultimate result is equality, equity and socially just society- reconciliation.

In education, the use of ITR's is of utmost importance as it enhances the; education, formation of identity, and development of active and informed citizenship for both Indigenous and non-indigenous students (Groome, 1995). For non-indigenous students, ITR's mean they grow with the values and processes embedded into their lives, which becomes a natural process that informs their every action. This ensures they make positive and ethical decisions and contributions to the local and global society (Reynolds, 2011). While for Indigenous students, the inclusion of their cultural values and world views demonstrates a recognition and respect for their heritage and Australian History that stems thousands of years prior to European settlement/ invasion instead of beginning at European colonisation. This is important as it will break down barriers- stereotypes- erected from Indigenous Australians first contacts with Europeans, and their attempt to dominate a race they declared as "innately inferior- childlike in their mental abilities and almost without initiative" (Beresford, Partington & Gower, 2012 p 86), leaving a legacy of students' self-fulfilment of prophecies. This has resulted in an overrepresentation of Indigenous Australians in low socioeconomics, crime and police custody, unemployment, school absenteeism, low levels of literacy and numeracy, academic underachievement, and school drop-outs (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). As well as an underrepresentation of Indigenous Australians in high school completion, tertiary education and further study, skilled and highly paid employment, and positions of power in society (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). These statistics can be reduced, and cycles broken with ITR's, as Indigenous Australian acknowledgement promotes a sense of respect for, and self-value and self-determination in Indigenous students (Curtin University, 2012 b). The Australian Curriculum already has embedded Indigenous perspectives through all areas of the curriculum, and by individual teachers employing ITR processes to respectfully integrate various groups of Indigenous Australian peoples History and cultural views and values into learning resources and experiences, Indigenous students are more engaged in education (ACARA, 2012). Such engagement is critical for instilling a love of and lifetime of learning fosters higher levels of academic achievement and positive identity formation, and ultimately breaking the intergenerational cycles of oppression (Reynolds, 2012; Groome, 1995).

However, for the nation, states, communities, schools, and classrooms to effectively and comprehensively employ ITR's into all decisions for planning, delivering and assessing pedagogical practices in all Australian educational institutions, they need to establish and maintain respectful relationships with all stakeholders; Indigenous students, their families, their Indigenous community groups, the local Indigenous community groups who are central to issues being taught, and schools (Northern Territory Government: Department of Education, 2011). Through these relationships, teachers, school administrators, Education Ministers and AIEO's need to communicate with the Indigenous Australian stakeholders, and listen to their cultural views and values (Northern Territory Government: Department of Education, 2011). It is then critical that they respectfully acknowledge the importance of these ideas and integrate them into the planning of curriculum content, school processes, school events, and classroom direction, learning experiences, resource selection, and assessments.

Due to the diversity of Indigenous Australian groups and regions; culture, experiences, knowledge and understanding, and aspirations, these processes begin on local and state levels through the establishment of Indigenous Education Councils. While in classrooms, the role of individual teachers in facilitating the ITR process is central to successfully delivering a culturally and contextually appropriate learning program that effectively integrates the voice of relevant Indigenous Australian groups' on issues to enhance the learning of all students; indigenous and non-indigenous (Curtin University, 2012 b). Therefore, while The Australian Curriculum has Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures embedded through as cross-curriculum priorities (ACARA, 2012), teachers need to liaise with AEIO's, students, their family members, members of their Indigenous community and members of Indigenous communities with whom issues studied are relevant. Following these ITR processes, all teachers will need to uphold Indigenous Australian people's views, integrate their habits of thinking, working and reflecting, to guarantee the learning they provide derive from, acknowledge and adhere to these Indigenous views (Curtin University, 2012 b). Included in this, is ensuring all topics demonstrate the relevant Indigenous people's perspectives through the inclusion of resources that respectfully demonstrate Indigenous perspectives in particular topics such as picture books and appropriate internet source. However, a significant way to endorse the guarantee of authentic Indigenous perspectives in issues is to encourage Indigenous student's family and community members' participation in the education occurring in the classroom. This can be achieved by inviting them to share their stories with the class, read or re-tell traditional stories significant to them, and sharing in or delivering cultural awareness activities such as traditional Indigenous art lessons, choreographing dance routines for events like NODAC week, and demonstrating or teaching about or how to play traditional musical instruments.

An example of how teachers might integrate all of these aspects into a lesson in their classroom would be a collaborative inquiry that results in a group project, with a jigsaw approach that ensures students investigate, and develop a deep understanding of both indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives on the conservation of The Murray River (Reynolds, 2012). This is a local and value laden issue for South Australians, thus effectively meets the Society and Environment: Place, Space and Environment standard 2.6 outlined in the South Australian Curriculum Standards and Accountability Framework (2001), that states that students should "Understand that people cause changes in natural, built and social environments, and they act together in solving problems to ensure ecological sustainability" [F] [In] [KC6] (DECS, 2001). However, to successfully teach this unit of work, the teacher needs to employ ITR processes, and communicate with the Ngarrindjeri people- South Australian Murray River traditional Aboriginal custodians. By determining the Ngarrindjeri people's views on the area; how they lived along the river prior to settlement, what is the cultural importance of the area to their people and why, how the lives of their people have changed since settlement (where they live, how they live), why is the conservation of the area important to their people, actions they believe would be beneficial to the conservation of the river and why, the teacher can ensure the lesson outcomes are consistent with the Ngarrindjeri peoples cultural views (Oxenham, 1999). Using this information, it is essential the teacher collaborates with stakeholders to ensure the planning and delivery methods appropriately integrates their views, to ensure students gain authentic and meaningful learning experiences and receive the essential viewpoints of the Ngarrindjeri people throughout their learning.

As demonstrated, for teachers to uphold their responsibility, and Australian law; that "every child has a right to receive a high-quality education" (Australian Capital Territory Parliamentary council, 2012 p. 4), the ITR process needs to be integrated into the planning and delivery of education on all levels. If this process is successfully applied, the education of all Australian students is enhanced. This means a future generation in which ITR's are naturally embedded into all decisions students make, thus becoming informed and active citizens who positively and ethically contribute to society (Reynolds, 2012). Therefore eroding barriers that face Indigenous Australians, and ensuring they break out of a long established cycle of intergenerational oppression, and ensuring positive identities and futures for all Australians- equality, equity, social justice- reconciliation! (Groome, 1995)

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