Sunday, 8 May 2011

Two Pairs of Shoes: Indigenous student's experiences

Originally posted by Apple Green Amy

So, if you were going to study in another country, a foreign culture, a different language and be expected to meet all expectations there, how well do you think you would do?

We like to think of it this way: our students have two pairs of shoes - those they wear in their community and those they wear when they come onto our campus.
The picture of the shoes helps me remember that our students are not only here to learn new knowledge and skills, but that they come to us with a wealth of learning and experience already; and that they happily swap shoes to live a different experience when they go home!

In thinking about the further reaching effects of our cross cultural teaching I like McGivney's point on this - that while the Aboriginal students we have are here for educational progress towards a formal qualification, albeit a desirable outcome, is not necessarily the most important benefit of learning: we need to think about how their experience with us will have a far more reaching benefit to individuals, families and communities all across the NT.

So, when they struggle to follow the timetable, to re-write things in their own words, to understand the speaker on the stage or behave differently outside of school we need to remember that they wear different shoes - they are in a foreign culture, language and set of standards; and what they need is support for their motivation, cross cultural experiences, through their barriers and to also celebrate their matter how different to ours!

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