Is confidence and empathy enough? White teachers’ efforts to incorporate the Australian Curriculum’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority.

Year: 2021

Author: Guenther, John, Ober, Robyn, Osborne, Sam, Williamson-Kefu, Majon

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Abstract:
Australians Together is an organisation committed to helping non-Indigenous people to live together with First Nations people, more respectfully. Over the last five years the organisation has commissioned a number of research projects designed to determine how professional learning and curriculum resources affect teachers and schools as they attempt to integrate the Australian Curriculum’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority into classroom teaching. The Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education is currently working on two projects with Australians Together; one which is focused on teachers, and another that is focused on students and their families. In this presentation, the researchers will discuss the findings of the first project.The premise of Australians Together’s initiatives is that teachers who are more empathetic, and more confident will do a better job engaging with the Cross-Curriculum priority, than those who are not. But our findings from research conducted at six South Australian school sites suggests that while confidence and empathy result from professional learning, they do not necessarily carry over into classroom practice, and more importantly perhaps do not necessarily lead to better engagement with local First Nations communities. This is not to suggest that teachers are not interested, but that they often do not know where to start and need structures and strategies within which they can more effectively engage, not only with curriculum resources, but with First Nations community members. The presenters will discuss what emerges from the research that would be helpful to teachers and schools, including what role professional learning and resources can play.

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