Developing Alternative Ways of Teaching (Pedagogies) and Cultural Metaphors

WCE staff work closely with interested teachers at Tennant Creek and Alekerenge schools to help develop alternative ways of teaching (pedagogies) and cultural metaphors.

Promoting Indigenous culture and governance in the education environment was one of the main area of focus for the WCE team in Tennant Creek and Alekerenge.

This has been achieved through a number of mechanisms including the following:

  • Improving Indigenous representation on the school councils – 10% increase at the primary school and 20% increase in the high school. It is extremely positive that Indigenous representation has increased and further growth should be encouraged. In practice due to community commitments, personal circumstances etc. there is often only one or two Indigenous members present which causes them to feel quite isolated and limits effective participation.
  • Adding cultural content into the curriculum by running specific education sessions with classes.
  • Providing information to education staff regarding cultural protocols.
  • Building on educational curriculum and pedagogy by introducing previously undiscovered materials and resources.
  • Working on Indigenous workforce development with employers and government agencies.

The 8 Aboriginal pedagogies has been introduced to local staff to develop general cultural values to build on:

  • We connect through the stories we share
  • We picture our pathways of knowledge
  • We see, think, act, make and share without words
  • We keep and share knowledge with art and objects
  • We work with lessons from land and nature
  • We put different ideas together and create new knowledge
  • We work from wholes to parts, watching and then doing
  • We bring new knowledge home to help our mob

Developing Alternative Ways of Teaching (Pedagogies) and Cultural Metaphors

Developing Alternative Ways of Teaching (Pedagogies) and Cultural Metaphors

A number of useful metaphors emerged during the WCE, which included the following:

  • The Emu Foot : this highlights three main education pathways – direct employment, VET or higher education (image above)
  • Threads to rope : at present the education system is supported by many individual threads that are fragile and easily disrupted. As a result education performance can be unbalanced or fall when a small number of individual threads break. These threads can be woven into a strong rope which is durable and can achieve much more. (Also spinifex that is less useful as individual stalks but can be woven into a useful basket.)

WCE mentoring school staff at Tennant Creek High School and Primary School

Activities with Tennant Creek High School have included five staff forums which were facilitated by WCE to enable interested teachers to discuss challenges, strategies and community engagement. One session
with the high school teachers involved talking about the use of cultural metaphors in the classroom and asking questions of the teachers about the importance of Aboriginal teachers in the classroom, the need
for English LLN support, and ways to incorporate language and culture into the high school environment.
All of the teachers’ ideas were recorded in writing and the whole session was recorded by SBS for use in a documentary about supporting new teachers into remote settings in the NT. The documentary ‘Testing
Teachers’ has since been aired on SBS in 2017 with Tennant Creek included as one of the case studies. These staff forums led to teachers from the high school contacting the WCE team directly to visit their classes and speak with students about local history, culture, Indigenous human rights and examples drawn from their own pathways into higher education. Community-based staff presented on three separate occasions to classes on the topics outlined above. One presentation on slavery in the region elicited a very positive response from the school – teachers and students alike were very moved by the discussion. This was also recorded as part of the SBS documentary ”Testing Teachers’. After discussions between Tennant Creek High School management around the importance of engaging with the local Indigenous community, and following on from the staff forums and in-class sessions about different aspects of Indigenous culture, two new Indigenous positions were created at the school to provide cultural mentoring for students.

At the Tennant Creek Primary School there were two WCE-led teacher forums to explore “teaching challenges” and “new ways of solving problems”; and two sessions with teachers delivering culture lessons through art and story-telling. The Tennant Creek Primary School has since increased its Indigenous staff allocation. While this was seen to be a “positive” by WCE Indigenous staff, they commented that “not all engagements are local” and noted that employing local, qualified people may have advantages – particularly around language and culture when teaching at the school.

29 November 2017

Team Member Reflection: Terry Moore

Team Member Reflection: Terry Moore

​I joined the team in April 2016, just in time for the team meeting at Tennant Creek, where it was realised that the team needed someone to analyse the data that was being generated across the different communities.

Charles Darwin UniversityAustralian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & EducationBatchelor InstituteNAILSMANTG

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