Acknowledging Australia’s first peoples and exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in the classroom

IGS acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous Australians and incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures as a key cross curriculum priority in the classroom.

The IGS community is enriched by the presence of 26 Indigenous students, including 23 Indigenous Scholars from Kindergarten to Year 12.

The School acknowledges Aboriginal Elders, past, present and emerging, often in multiple languages at key events and we continue to look for new opportunities to expand our engagement with the local Aboriginal community and to deepen our commitment to playing our part to close the gap.

As part of this commitment, the School is supporting Head of Indigenous Education Jade Carr and Japanese teacher Lucy Howard-Shibuya to undertake a Masters in Educational Leadership in Aboriginal Education at the University of Sydney.

Jade has pioneered the introduction of HSC Aboriginal Studies at IGS with outstanding academic results. This senior course began at IGS with nine students three years ago as part of our strategic expansion of the curriculum. This year we have 35 Aboriginal Studies students enjoying the course across Years 11 and 12.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s vision for Year 9 students at IGS to learn on Country has seen her pioneer the Red Earth Aboriginal Immersion program from 2014, with life-changing journeys for our students into the APY lands.

At Wednesday’s Professional Development workshop for IGS teachers, Jade and Lucy shared their insights about this national cross-curriculum priority with the goal of helping to build deeper knowledge and understanding among our teachers. They facilitated a thought-provoking discussion that included the effects of colonisation, changing government policies, the Stolen Generations and intergenerational trauma, with the effects still felt widely in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families today.

They also showcased high-quality teaching resources and ideas, such as yarning circles, explaining that all teachers could add such practices to their “dilibag” or teaching toolkit. Jade and Lucy emphasised the importance of teachers mining their syllabuses and thinking creatively to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into students’ classroom experiences so that they continue to enrich the learning of all of students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. A key goal is for students to understand more deeply what happened in the past and to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.

 

Jade and Lucy also spoke of the benefits of on-Country learning and of speaking with our Aboriginal students and their families to promote deeper understanding and mutual trust.

“While reflecting on the effects of the past, the aim of this Professional Development workshop was to look towards positive change and empowerment of students through utilising the incredibly rich and varied skills of all IGS educators and their respect of our First Nations Stories and Knowledge systems,” Lucy said.

Acknowledging Jade and Lucy’s important contribution, Principal Shauna Colnan said “we are fortunate to have educators of their calibre learning more about Aboriginal Education. Jade and Lucy’s curiosity, their drive, energy and creative spark are infectious and create a powerful influence for good across the campus as we push further into this most important aspect of our School’s unique offerings. Bringing their learning straight from the Masters program at Sydney Uni to our colleagues through hands-on professional development is hugely beneficial to our school.”

IGS Deputy Principal Academic Operations Lisa Kelliher thanked Jade and Lucy for sharing their expertise, time, effort and passion to support students and colleagues as we continue to expand and develop our expertise in this area as well as our appreciation of Indigenous Knowledge systems.

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