Understanding the Techniques of Colonialism for Teaching Indigenous Curriculum

Year: 2016

Author: Rudolph, Sophie, Brown, Lilly

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is a lack of clarity about what constitutes Indigenous education both in the media and in research spheres and teachers often report being at a loss as to the best ways to teach Indigenous students and Indigenous curriculum. The contestation over what constitutes Indigenous education, what issues are important and how it should be understood indicates that this is not a simple problem. We argue in this paper, however, that this struggle exists for a reason: Australia is a settler colonial nation that exists on unceded country. Like in many other settler colonial states, such as New Zealand, Canada and the USA, the strength and survival of First Nations peoples despite the colonial violence they suffered creates a bind for the settler colonial nation: how are Indigenous people to be part of the nation when they were supposed to die out? While Indigenous people typically ask the question: how are we to gain education in a system that refuses to recognise our sovereignty and instead requires us to assimilate?These struggles and contestations are also what makes it difficult to provide teachers with any single model, curriculum or strategy for how to be a good teacher of Indigenous students or Indigenous curriculum. In this paper we unpack some of the underlying historical and theoretical perspectives that can enable teachers to be more informed of the colonial techniques of exclusion that impede achieving educational justice for Indigenous students. We suggest that this is important regardless of whether teachers have Indigenous students in their classes or not. We then offer some possibilities for decolonial and anti-colonial pedagogies. We argue that teachers will be better equipped to be good teachers of both Indigenous students and curriculum if they understand how the legacies of colonisation continue to impact us all and if they can be armed with a range of theoretical tools to respond to these legacies.