A focus on Aboriginal Education at Corpus Christi can be seen as two-fold. Firstly, Aboriginal Education promotes a greater understanding of the culture and spirituality of the original inhabitants of this land and the importance of this to our sense of Australia in the past, now and into our future. Secondly, a focus on Aboriginal Education needs to be centred on the specific learning needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and to ensure equitable access to the curriculum and resources in meeting those needs.
Understanding Aboriginal Culture
A curriculum that is truly Australian should provide opportunities for all students to develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal heritage, cultures, contemporary issues and spirituality, and promote high expectations of Aboriginal students through quality teaching and learning opportunities.
Cultural knowledge and personal histories are invaluable resources in promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their histories, culture, spirituality and languages. Seeking advice and assistance from the local community, in particular with Aboriginal elders, is important when planning, implementing and evaluating programs.
Supporting Learning Needs
“Aboriginal students enter school from a social and cultural context that is quite different from the social and cultural context of the teacher” (Schwab & Sutherland, 2001). However while such differences make the experience of teaching and learning more complex, it is not made impossible. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children…. are just as hungry to learn as any other child” (Two Way Teaching and Learning p108).
There is an urgent need to promote the educational achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enable them to participate fully and equitably in Australian society. While some progress has been made in recent years, gaps in some areas are still widening. For Aboriginal students to reach their potential it is important to recognise the role of Aboriginal parents as the first educators of their children and to work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities in the educational process.
Chris Sarra (2005) believes that the key strategies for ensuring success for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are:
- Challenging, developing and embracing a positive sense of Indigenous student identity
- Embracing Indigenous leadership in schools and school communities
- High expectations.
Aboriginal Education at Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi prioritises a focus on Aboriginal Education that works towards achieving key strategies including:
- Ensuring we regularly identify, name and acknowledge the traditional custodians of our land
- Embedding an Aboriginal perspective in all aspects of the curriculum
- Developing the knowledge, appreciation and understanding of staff, students and school communities about Aboriginal Australia
- Supporting the Catholic Church’s commitment to social justice
- Supporting Aboriginal heritage, culture and spirituality
- Strengthening relationships with Aboriginal families and the wider community and looking for opportunities for reconciliation and acknowledgement
- Improving and celebrating educational outcomes and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
- Understanding and appreciating the significant issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their aspirations.