I was watching the ABC show QandA last night and one of the discussion was in regards to aboriginal poverty and education in the Northern Territory. It was mentioned that the communities had had new schools built with the state of the art technologies and yet the problem was getting the children to come to school on a consistent basis.
I see the main problem is that the education department and political system is trying to work within an established pattern that clearly doesn’t work and nor does it fit every learning need.
What I believe is needed is some creativity and freedom to recognise the variety of ways in which individual people and communities learn. This within its self creates more tensions because it then creates problems in benchmarking how effective the level of education and how educated an individual is and what that means for the community.
I admit that I am not a qualified sociologist, nor am I an expert by any means in regards to the plight and needs of our Aboriginal communities, nor am I an educational expert either. I do have some close relationships with aboriginals and know of my own personal struggles within the established education system and therefore believe I have some worthy observations to make.
One of the issues I see is that our system education leans more on the education of the individual. Whereas within the framework of the out back communities of which I speak, there is a sense and need for more of a communal mode of teaching and learning. It seems to me that its the insistence on the individual within those communities and perhaps even within our own communities that the breakdown of community is further exacerbated, and the sense of identity is further broken down.
Surely we can be creative and implement an education program and methodology of teaching which fits within the learning style of the community; which will enhance and build up the community. While the methodology and creativity may be outside of the box in how we think of the methodology of education and may threaten the status quo of many who have vested interests in the current system – we need to be thinking about the needs of those we are teaching.
I have heard it said that there is no such thing as a dumb student, only dumb teachers who don’t know how to teach. Clearly what we are doing is not working in our out back communities and I would even question if its working within our so called “urban’ centres. And therefore if our systems are failing to teach our children and communities through our repeated efforts, doesn’t this then call for a change?
What are your thoughts?