The education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander has become a focus of the NSW Department of Education while making policies of education in Australia as the nation strives to bring equality for them. The education of Aboriginal students has faced a number of challenges in the past which led to their continuous educational failure. The overt or covert form of racism has always remained a feature of Aboriginal educational polices, which has always marginalized these students. Any member of the society should not be deprived of education as it is a social resource. Teaching and learning practices need to consider the special requirements of the diverse range of groups and curriculum needs to be designed in such a way that it does not perpetuate the inferiority of anyone’s belief system. This essay will be looking at the historical legacy of Aboriginal students which deciphers the educational disadvantage experienced by them through teaching practices, curriculum and policy. In order to discuss the implications for teaching and learning, Transformative theory of learning along with Butins theory and Piane’s frameworks will also be highlighted. This essay will also throw light on Marxist theory and Pierre Bourdieu’s various forms of capital to show the discrimination experienced by Aboriginals. The poor educational outcomes for the Aboriginal students owe to the impact of colonilisation where the educational policies were driven by racism. It was till 1950’s that Indigenous students were denied access to equal opportunities of education and racism was a governing force behind this policy (Gray & Beresford, 2008). They were considered inferior to white people and were forced to live apart (A.P.Elkin, 1930’s cited by Gray & Beresford, 2008). Various policies were implemented which allowed the removal of Aboriginal students from schools (Heitmeyer, 2004). Whereas some children of Aboriginal origin were forcibly placed in the missions, the others were a target of community racism which barred them from going to state schools. The policies of assimilation like Stolen Generations put the educational outcomes of these students at a higher degree of risk.
Racism, in one way or another, became an important element of the educational policies made for Aboriginal students. Even though, in 1880, NSW Department of School Education came up with equal opportunities of education to all irrespective of the caste, race or creed. But the racist attitude of people towards Indigenous students made NSW Education Department to come up with a policy known as Clean, Clad and Courteous in1884 which singled out the Indigenous students by stating that unless the students of this particular origin are not clean, clad and courteous, they cannot attend the school (Heitmeyer, 2004). It seems that the effects of their dwellings near rubbish dumps or cemeteries would have been ignored while formulating such policies (Gray & Beresford, 2008).Instead of teaching them how to lead a hygienic lifestyle, rejecting them for not being neat and clean was a violation of the self made policy by NSW Department of Education, which provided equal opportunities to all. Furthermore, Exclusion on Demand policy in 1902 took away their right of basic education as it stated that any objection by the parents of non-aboriginal students will lead to their removal from the school (Heitmeyer, 2004). Considering the Anti-Racism policy made by NSW Department of Education, racial discrimination needs to be eliminated which can bring better educational outcomes for these students.
Educational failure of the Aboriginal students can be attributed to a number of school related factors like discontinuity of their culture and exclusion of their language in the school curriculum, inappropriate content and pedagogy .Aboriginal students get differential treatment in the classroom. Their cultural identity is seen as inferior and even when they are in any...
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