Aims of the P-10 Standards
11 June 2009
Response to Aboriginal Communities
The co-writers of the draft Standards are Lynnette Solomon-Dent and Dr Christina Eira. Lynnette has been teaching Aboriginal languages for over 20 years. Lynnette has been recognized with a number of awards Koorie teacher of the year and this year she got the Wurrecker teacher award. Lynnette is the only Aboriginal teacher in Victoria to have a Graduate Certificate in LOTE methodologies and LOTE practicum which was a requirement of the Department of Education. Dr Christina Eira is the VACL (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages) Community Linguist. Christina has a long history of working with Aboriginal communities to assist them in Revival and Reclamation.
Lynnette and Christina were commissioned by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS, within the Education Department) to write a set of Standards to enable Aboriginal languages, Cultures and Reclamation to be studied as an accredited subject right throughout school. The writing of the documentation for the teaching of Aboriginal languages has been to reflect the views, concerns and requests of the Aboriginal community in regard to teaching their Languages in schools.
We see this as the primary focus because, in the current historical situation in Australia, Aboriginal people are still working towards control over their own cultures, Languages, lands and community life. In addition, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people are gradually seeing increased efforts to share the burden of this goal. In this socio-political environment, we can only see the present move to accredit Aboriginal Language learning in Victorian schools as part of the means to support this reclamation of self-determination through reclamation of Language and culture. This in turn contributes to healing within Aboriginal communities and of the nation as a whole.
Students gain an awareness of the influence of culture in the learners own life and first language; also of Koorie English. Different languages and language communities organise social relationships and information in different ways and values differ from one community to another. Through cultural self-awareness, the ability to rationally discuss and compare cultural differences is developed. This learning involves developing curiosity about the variety of values and practices, as well as acquiring in-depth knowledge of the diverse cultural traditions of the source societies.
All Aboriginal Language teaching material needs to make a strong links between Language, identity, culture, history and land as the prime reason for learning an Aboriginal Language. These important links make it possible to learn a Victorian Aboriginal Language in the revival and reclamation approach.
The framework for learning in Aboriginal Languages, Cultures and Reclamation falls into five broad learning areas. These learning areas can be seen throughout the Learning Focus and Standards sections for the language category: Intercultural knowledge, Communicating in language, Revival and reclamation skills, Literacies and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages.
Students develop an understanding of the speakers of the Language and the regions and communities that the Language belongs to. Students are given opportunities to learn about Aboriginal Language and culture through culturally relevant experiences, such as excursions to cultural sites, visiting Elders, participation in cultural events such as NAIDOC week and Reconciliation week, and begin to learn the significance of these events and places.
Students are encouraged to increase their knowledge of the area in which they live, visiting culturally important places in their area with an appropriate Aboriginal guide.
They learn about cultural aspects of the chosen Language such as information about traditional foods, medicines, music and musical instruments, men's and women's implements, and dance, and begin to use the Language of the chosen area to name items. They develop an awareness of art and craft practices such as baskets and their weaving, by viewing traditional and contemporary pieces and also working with artists of the area.
There are 6 levels in the Aboriginal languages which are part of the 8 key learning areas taught at schools. The subject sits in the LOTE (Languages other than English).
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