How to guide
About the Curricula Project
The inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in Australian classrooms varies across the country. Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, and Foundation Chair of Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Marcia Langton AM, have a shared vision that all Australian students have the opportunity to learn about the depth, wealth and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia and have partnered to deliver the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula Project. Through this Curricula Project, we’ve learnt more about teachers’ experiences, including the reasons behind a lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content. Reasons include:
- Fear — of their own limited knowledge, or of doing something wrong.
- Navigation — of existing repositories, and to identify quality resources within these.
- Value — of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges; with some seeing this as primarily for Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Change — changes in priorities for the classroom drive where to apply effort in classroom adaptation and has inadvertently positioned this content as an "additional other".
The resource package
This resource package is intended to empower teachers to integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their classroom practice – normalising inclusion and bringing to life the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross-Curriculum Priority. The resource is centred around three topics that showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures – Astronomy, Fire and Water. The final version of the Astronomy resources, along with the Fire and Water resources, will be released in early 2019 and available for teachers’ use in classrooms during the 2019 school year.
The resource package includes an introduction, articulating the Project’s intent and helping you to position this work with yours, and this guidance on how to use the package. Then within each topic, there is a broad introduction and enduring understandings, which are complemented in each learning area by a more specific concept and idea for a classroom activity. The package is centred around Inquiry-Based Learning, recognising the need for a contemporary pedagogy that promotes the role of the student in progressing their own learning.
The resources cover seven of the eight learning areas of the Australian Curriculum:
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- The Arts
- Health and Physical Education
The examples for these learning areas are pitched at years 5 and 8. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content can be included at any year level from Foundation to Year 10, with the ideas providing scope to scale up or down as appropriate to your year level. Similarly, concepts and learning ideas are provided for a learning area, but these can be adapted to suit another learning area or expanded to bridge across a number of learning areas. These resources provide quality examples of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content could be included in your classroom.
This resource recognises that the many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and groups have different practices and cultures, and by describing the specific practices of different cultures there is a risk of imposing a ‘one size fits all’ stereotype to all these cultures.
While the resources do not explicitly address the Languages learning area, there will still be opportunities to include language in your teaching in other learning areas. Language is a significant element of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity and can enrich the learning for students, providing another prompt for them to consider a concept from an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander perspective. Schools are also encouraged to consider the area they live in, their engagement with their local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community and how they could utilise the Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages.
While these resource assist teachers implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross-Curriculum Priority across seven learning areas, the three dimensional design of the Australian Curriculum also provides opportunities for teachers to engage with the Intercultural Understanding and Ethical Understanding general capabilities.
Importantly, this Project is not about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Rather, it is about ensuring that all Australian students are given the opportunity to learn about the sophistication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures that have thrived and cultivated the Australian landscape for more than 60,000 years. However, teachers should keep the following considerations in mind for their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students:
- Have a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, including whether they live on their Country or not.
- Cannot be expected to be an expert in their own Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander culture, let alone in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures generally.
- Should be encouraged to participate as learners without the expectation that they will provide an example or personal perspective on the content.