Working with the message stick in classroom spaces

ethos 2022 4

Working with the message stick in classroom spaces

Ricki Spencer

Foreward to Ethos, vol. 30, no.1, 2022 – 'Voices, Treaties and Truth'.

Ricki Spencer is a proud First Nations trans teacher and a member of Social Education Victoria's Committee of Management.

PhD Candidate, M.Ed., BSW, B.Ed. BA.

Exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in our classrooms can open the door for students and teachers into a deeper understanding of, for, and about, First Nations People’s lives through the lens of families, communities, environments and man-made systems of power and privilege. The focus of each encounter with our culture should be embraced through an open and honest dialogue with our students about First Nations peoples’ lived and living experiences of the consequences of colonialism and the importance of truth telling through the changing story of self-determination and justice.

The process of what to include in our schools has been complicated through the proliferation of research and opinion pieces flooded in an overcrowded curriculum. Educators are also balancing the need to ensure all content is delivered in a timely matter for all year levels to enable an authentic representation of the issues faced by First Nations Peoples across Australia. Teachers and curriculum developers may consider three key points when selecting material for your classrooms. These include:

  1. Voicing Perspectives: Is the content representative of First Nations peoples’ experiences written by First Nations scholars (including Elders voices from diverse clans)?

  2. Intersectional Experiences: Does the content provide diverse perspectives of First Nations identities across the country (regional, rural, remote, and metropolitan) and intersectionalities (age, gender, sexualities, disabilities, adopted, fostered, stolen)?

  3. Currency of Views: Does the material sourced consider the current political and economic climate operating in Australian public policies to provide students with a deep understandingits underlying ideologies. Policies and their ideologies have a complex relationship with the past, present, and ongoing race relations and through equitable access to services and resources.

ethos 2022 1We can guide all students to locate and interrogate reputable resources that will provide a wide range  of perspectives so that they can develop an informed understanding of race relations and the impacts of colonialism upon all aspects of everyday Australia. The current political climate in Australia frames two approaches to these challenges: the Uluru Statement from the heart and Truth, Treaty and Voice. Both perspectives centre Voice as the way forward, from a decolonialised framework.

The following papers provide a gateway to challenging some of the ways we think about how to present pockets of knowledge for our diverse student cohorts across the years through an authentic lens.

Next article –> Listening to and learning from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in education