Real stories, extraordinary people. Preliminary findings fom an Aboriginal community-controlled cultural immersion program for local teachers.

Year: 2012

Author: Burgess, Cathie, Cavanagh, Pat (Paddy)

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Abstract:

This paper reports on effective strategies for developing the cultural competence of teachers involved in Aboriginal education and presents the preliminary findings of a review into the Connecting to Country Program (CTC), a joint venture of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC). They suggest that the AECG three-day cultural immersion has a dramatic impact on participants' knowledge and understanding of local Aboriginal society, history and culture. Some reported a transformational experience while almost all reported:

  • improved knowledge and understanding of local Aboriginal people, histories and cultures;
  • enhanced confidence in incorporating Aboriginal perspectives into the curriculum; and
  • new skills and awareness of the benefits of communication with Aboriginal people and organisations.

A mixed methods approach using qualitative and quantitative data has, in this preliminary stage, elicited responses from 130 teachers, 26 Aboriginal students and 8 Aboriginal parents and community members. These responses indicate the importance of developing the cultural competence of teachers through training delivered by local Aboriginal people. This approach supports teachers in developing meaningful and respectful relationships with Aboriginal students, parents and community members where teachers, students, parents and community members are all engaged in Aboriginal student learning.

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