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Inside Teaching : June 2010
www.atra.edu.au | email@example.com INDIGENOUS EDUCATION 15 As Anne-Katrin Eckermann, Toni Dowd, Mary Martin, Lynette Nixon, Roy Gray and Ena Chong explained back in 1992 in Binan Goonj, '"forgetfulness" and "disregard" of Aboriginal people have been a feature of the Australian education and social, as well as legal and economic, systems for generations.' As educators, it's our responsibility to engage with that history of forgetfulness and disregard, and learn the lessons that will make us better teachers who connect with our students in ways that demonstrate we value their worlds. Doing that will help us to engage our students in the learning experience, but it can also help us to prepare them for successful futures in the two cultures they inhabit. To do that requires teachers to engage meaningfully and regularly with individual parents and the wider school community, including Indigenous parents and communities. It also requires recognition and acceptance that some students need to acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to achieve a balance between different areas of influence in their lives, even where those influences may appear, at times, to be opposing forces. Of course, not all teachers have experienced the tensions that students deal with as they attempt to operate across two cultures -- western and Indigenous -- but most of us will have experienced different socioeconomic and geographical influences on our lives. Good teachers will always use such experiences to guide them in helping students learn. Indigenous students, whether they live in urban, regional or remote locations, rarely receive assistance and support in developing strategies for creating a workable balance between the cultures they inhabit, despite the fact that such learning is valuable to all students in today's global environment, even those who 'look white.' ■ Professor Jeannie Herbert holds the Chair in Indigenous Studies at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales. REFERENCES Eckermann A.-K., Dowd, T., Martin, M., Nixon, L., Gray, R. & Chong, E. (1992). Binan Goonj: Bridging cultures in Aboriginal health. Armidale: UNE Press.