Friday, 6 May 2011

8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning

The challenge in teaching for Indigenous learning styles begins with ourselves. How well we know our own perspectives and how we cater for others through our pedagogy is vital to the success of our student's understanding and future applications of the knowledge.

8 Ways is a fantastic site that not only documents Aboriginal Pedagogy but has useful resources which show ways this has been implemented by teachers around Australia. There are examples from a wide range of Key Learning Areas, from both Indigenous and Mainstream teachers.

'8 Ways' is built around the 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning:

Tell a story. Make a plan. Think and do. Draw it. Take it outside. Try a new way. Watch first, then do. Share it with others
  1. We connect through the stories we share.
  2. We picture our pathways of knowledge.
  3. We see, think, act, make and share without words.
  4. We keep and share knowledge with art and objects.
  5. We work with lessons from land and nature.
  6. We put different ideas together and create new knowledge.
  7. We work from wholes to parts, watching and then doing.
  8. We bring new knowledge home to help our mob.
I always begin planning a unit with this in mind: how explicit am I being with the personal and wider narrative? How much do include applications for the students and family connections? How much will this connect with real life purposes and contexts?

In our Circle model we meet students from communities and we hear their stories for the future; we then teach the content so it connects back to their real story; as they leave the program and use their skills & new knowledge for their community life - the Circle closes!

It's worth exploring 8 Ways and discover how you could implement it - it's one of my favourite 'bookmarks'!


  1. You forgot one crucial piece in the 8 ways model and that is Indigenous Languages.

  2. Language is absolutely central to culture and identity! But this post was about reflecting on the 8 ways, identified and written by Aboriginal people and they did not include language outside of 'non-verbal' - which is interesting and raises an interesting discussion in itself!
    I most certainly do reflect on language as part of trying to do relevant and appropriate contextualisation as some words I might use simply don't exist in other languages, some words carry different meanings and I need to be able to help aboriginal students think about our lesson in their own language.
    Thanks for your comment Unknown, I'd love to hear more of your perspective or experience of this!

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