Pedagogical Approaches in a Mandatory Indigenous Education Subject

By Katrina Thorpe and Cathie Burgess.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper will report on preliminary findings in curriculum design and pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning in a mandatory Indigenous Education subject taught through the Koori Centre, University of Sydney. Key challenges faced by the lecturers are how to best frame the content, often interpreted as being controversial and biased, to encourage students to be receptive to alternative ways of thinking and doing and extend their knowledge of this field. To this end, lecturers attempt to create culturally safe learning environments and assessment processes that engage students in a critically reflective process that can be modeled in their own classrooms.
Given the crucial role of quality learning environments in reducing education gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, it is imperative that we examine ways to better prepare future teachers to be effective educators of Indigenous students. Determining how these issues can be addressed is a matter of social justice for Indigenous students. The theoretical approaches of pedagogical content knowledge, dialogic inquiry and critical pedagogies were used to analyse the preliminary findings in this study to illuminate what is and isn’t working in an Indigenous education context.

Keywords: Indigenous Studies, Higher Education, Teaching and Learning, Curriculum Design, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Dialogic Inquiry, Critical Pedagogy

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp.177-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 837.780KB).

Katrina Thorpe

Lecturer in Indigenous Studies, Koori Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Katrina Thorpe is a descendant of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia. Katrina is currently a Lecturer at the Koori Centre, University of Sydney. She has been a lecturer in Indigenous Studies for the last 16 years as well as a high-school teacher and staff trainer involved in Aboriginal education. She has taught Indigenous perspectives across a wide range of disciplines including Australian Studies, Sociology, Gender Studies, Education and Health. Katrina’s academic interests include anti-racism and social justice education, promoting the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives across all areas of the curriculum, quality teaching and planning and evaluation in higher education.

Cathie Burgess

Lecturer in Education, Koori Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cathie Burgess has been a secondary-school teacher for over 20 years, teaching in a range of subjects with expertise in Aboriginal studies, Aboriginal perspectives across the curriculum, and literacy. She is currently a Lecturer in Education and Professional Experience Coordinator at the Koori Centre, University of Sydney. Cathie’s academic interests include anti-racism and social justice education, supporting preservice teachers to include an Indigenous focus in all areas of their teaching, quality teaching and improving outcomes for Indigenous students in the school system.

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