Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 44, No. 2, 110–124, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article investigates how preservice teachers developed a relationships with country.
The author has described preservice teachers who participated in an elective subject Engaging Koori Kids and their Families. The goal of this elective subject was to motivate preservice teachers to experience a journey of Aboriginal ways of knowing, learning and behaving.
The participants were 20 preservice teachers who enrolled in the subject. Seven participants were Early Years students and 13 were Primary final year preservice teachers.
The preservice teachers were taken to a number of relevant “educational sites” and to participate in cultural ceremonies. They visited a school that was recommended by an Elder that worked closely with her and other local Aboriginal community members. They were then taken to an Aboriginal mission: Elders who shared their stories of education, culture, and importance of respectful community/school partnerships. Furthermore, the female Elders elicited the emotional aspect of the learning connected to Country.
The author used a Yuin Yarning method to maintain Country's cultural practice. This approach used to help the authors identifying the knowledge that preservic eteachers gained from their experience.
The findings reveal that the elective subject demonstrated how teachers could implement and contribute to a holistic localised Aboriginal perspective originating from Country. The goal of this study is that preservice teachers take their story learnt from Country and implement it into the classroom. Each preservice teacher then has the experience to work with a range of Aboriginal community members. Preservice teachers could take their school students outside the classroom to see the relatedness of Country. The preservice teachers were able share the relationship that is central in the process, and approach to teaching Aboriginal perspectives to learn about self.
The findings have demonstrated how preservice teachers expressed and welcomed the ancient time-honoured skill from Country. Preservice teachers also engaged in respectful reciprocal relationships to communicate with Country.
Additionally, the research highlights the imperative of centring Aboriginal Country to enhance effective Aboriginal community, school, and teacher partnerships.
The author argues that the elective subject allowed Aboriginal stakeholders to reculturalise the educational landscape. At the same time, it gave preservice teachers the opportunity to examine the self in relation to decolonising the colonial “othering” of separation that complicates Western teaching practice for Aboriginal students.
The participants became aware of Aboriginal ways of knowing, learning, and behaving. Therefore, they have the opportunity to create a central space in the Western education system for Country to contribute in the education of all students. Feeling this on a deep level and continuously experiencing Country as teacher is a great skill to learn.