Sunday, 15 May 2011

Moving from 'Pre-empter' to Listener

If you were to summarise the change you have needed to make in order to work more effectively with Indigenous students what would it be?

My Reflection:
I had a wonderful conversation with my friend Rachel from Menzies this weekend and the word 'pre-empter' hit me the most as to what barriers we have in working as a Non-Indigenous educator. How often have we, as Westerners, been listening to someone and indicated while they were speaking that we have something to add...just today alone I think I have lost count!
We are prone to preempting those giving us knowledge with our ideas & opinions - while our students are not and this can be the cause of a major cross-cultural barrier!

Western culture and learning is largely built around Verbal Interaction while the Indigenous way is to through  Observation, Participation & Imitation. We like to talk through our learning - often at the same time as each other - while our Indigenous students will Wait, Watch and Respond Slowly.

Basket Weaving is beautiful example of this - out in the remote communities young girls will follow older ladies to the right plants, correct roots to make dyes and observe as they prepare & weave beautiful baskets from Pandanus trees...all without explicit instructions...and they are expected to apply that knowledge successfully. It takes a skill and value to learn that way, something our students bring into our teacher-directed classrooms!

So, the first challenge in my teaching day is to slow down my response time and allow space for students to respond according to how they learn.I try to remember that my impatience while waiting for answers is my culture of learning at work, not necessarily the right one at that time!

How will you cater for the learning styles of others & across cultures? I suggest moving from being a 'Pre-empter' to a 'Listener'!

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