Author: Kickett-Tucker, Cheryl, Dhu, Ashleigh, Karangaroa, Sophie
Type of paper: Symposium
For Aboriginal children to engage successfully in school, their culture, language and identity must be recognised, valued and taught so that they have a strong platform in which to strengthen their school engagement. This research project will explore the role of identity upon the wellbeing and academic outcomes for urban WA Aboriginal primary school children. In our project, Aboriginal knowledge of culture, country and kin will be taught. More specifically, genealogies, Aboriginal history, languages, dreamtime stories, dance, art, food, traditional life, kinship networks, roles, lore, value systems, rites of passage, communication with Aboriginal people, communication with others and navigation skills for living in 2 worlds. These topics will be taught in culturally appropriate places (i.e. on Noongar boodja [country]) by cultural teachers (i.e. Elders, parents, grandparents, Aboriginal teachers, Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers) and in culturally appropriate learning styles (i.e. oral, role modelling, kinetically, interrelationships). Parent/Carer participation will be critical as children learn the ways of doing, expectations, values, attitudes and behaviours from their parents, Elders and kin. This is where adults socialise children toward their Aboriginal identity. We anticipate children and families’ involvement in the project will result in them feeling more accepted and valued by the school as Australia’s first peoples. Further, we expect a positive shift in children’s knowledge of their racial identity will then encourage positive shifts in related self-esteem. Ultimately, we predict positive racial identity and related self-esteem will promote children’s wellbeing and thereby encourage attendance at school.