Embedding Indigenous perspectives into the Australian education system has been identified as key to improving outcomes for First Nations people. While this seems to be well-established knowledge, we may be underestimating its effects on non-Indigenous people. Integrating Indigenous perspectives into our children’s lives will not only provide a more accurate understanding of Australia’s history and culture, but it will also help us develop a more holistic education system.
In December 2021, our STEM Hour webinar panel spoke about children’s rights and responsibilities regarding sustainable living. One of my panelists, a proud Yuin woman, told me that her people see children’s wisdom as similar to that of Elders. As the spirit lives on forever, all Ancestors and decedents are ever present and return at some point through different people. When a child is born, their spirit brings the wisdom of previous generations into this new life. This wisdom manifests in a deep, inherent connection to Country. Due to their proximity to the spiritual world, both the very Young and the Old can embody the connections of their Ancestors more readily. Naturally, children’s intuitive connection with nature is considered an important pool of wisdom. Listening to their questions and ideas is therefore essential for gaining a better understanding of the world.
This mindset unlocks so many possibilities! It takes our understanding of the competent, self-directed child to the next level. Children don’t only shape their own environment; they also have the power to impact our thinking and behaviour. Indigenous cultures are role models for tapping into experiences far beyond cognitive, practical knowledge and for inviting children to share their intuitive approach to life.
In our STEM Hour webinar on 10 February, I will speak with Michelle Hamilton, a proud Wiradjuri woman and manager of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Inclusion Hub of the NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency, how early childhood settings can contribute to an education landscape that recognises Indigenous knowledges as essential for a holistic approach to education.
Article author: Heike Hendershot
National Training Manager
Heike manages the development of our workshop content and supports our training facilitators. A critical thinker with the ability to wonder, she believes in honouring each child’s individual skills and abilities.