First Aboriginal teaching PhD graduates

No one is teaching the teachers how to do it. They are expecting them to do it by osmosis

As we work towards greater reconciliation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia, IEU member Lisa Buxton is at the forefront of ensuring teachers have the necessary skill set to engage and teach Aboriginal languages and cultures.

Lisa is the first Aboriginal graduate from the School of Education at Notre Dame University Australia to graduate with a Degree by Research, Master of Philosophy.

Since the advent of her studies in 2012, Lisa found many teachers lacked considerable confidence teaching in this area.

“I looked into the national professional standards for teachers, specially 1.4 and 2.4, as they relate to the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and teaching about Aboriginal languages and cultures,” she said.

“I wanted to know whether primary school teachers feel proficient in that area and what they would need to move from proficient to highly accomplished.”

Lisa said many of the teachers she met during her research were fearful of offending Aboriginal people and communities. In some cases, Lisa discovered that teachers would opt not to put it in their teaching program because of this underlying fear.

“No one is teaching the teachers how to do it. They are expecting them to do it by osmosis”.

Lisa says she has taken a great deal of positive energy away from the teachers intending to gain the professional development skills in this area.

“There’s a lot of goodwill out there,” she said.

“Lots of teachers want to build relationships with local communities in order to help them implement Aboriginal perspectives into their programs.”

Daniel Long