No excuses! Aboriginal perspectives in schools

Here is another great article challenging teachers to get outside their comfort zone and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and histories. A good summary of top resources too. I would also add Victor Steffensen’s The Living Knowledge Place (

‘But I am NOT ABORIGINAL I don’t know how to do this stuff!’




8 Ways Aboriginal Pedagogy

An integrated HASS/Science unit applying the 8 ways Aboriginal pedagogy

This unit is designed around 6 full-day excursions with local Aboriginal rangers and cultural interpreters. Each lesson sequence describes one excursion and the related information and activities that can be delivered in the classroom. Contact details for the relevant traditional owners, rangers and cultural interpreters are available at the end of this document; teachers cannot engage authentically with this curriculum without consulting and collaborating with these key people.

For more information, contact myself or Adam Shipp, Yurbay Consultancies (formerly Greening Australia) –; M 0414 454 571

8 ways pedagogy was developed and is managed by the Western NSW Regional Aboriginal Education Team, NSW Dept. of Education,

See Tyson Yunkaporta’s thesis on the 8 ways here.

I have mapped the 8 ways framework to Quality Teaching, AITSL Standards and ACT Directorate have added ‘Good Teaching by Design’, attached here.

ACT ED & Campbell High School 8 ways and QTM FA AITSL GTBD

Campbell High School Unit planner land management

Reading Australia resources

I have written two units for Reading Australia with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives:

Ruby Ginibi Langford, Don’t take your love to town, for Year 12

Les Murray, Collected Poems, for Year 11

Reading Australia now has a partnership with Magabala Books and there will be units of work on Magabala titles coming soon.

An Aboriginal Literature “Canon”?

At the Hobart AATE/ALEA Literacy Conference in July 2017, I had an interesting chat with a teacher at a boys’ school who was looking for some canonical texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors which he could recommend to parents as significant literary works.

This is an area Anita Heiss has written much about and indeed is addressed in her edited collection  ‘Stories Without End’, co-edited with Penny van Toorn. See review here

My suggestions at the time, and some more I have thought of since, include:

Terri Janke – Butterfly Song

Tara June Winch – Swallow the Air and After the Carnage

Roberta Sykes – Snake Cradle, Snake Dancing and Snake Circle

Alexis Wright – Carpentaria, The Swan Book

Boori Monty Pryor – Maybe Tomorrow

Ali Cobby Eckermann – various poetry

Archie Weller – Day of the Dog and Going Home for more gritty novels for those disengaged boys!

Samuel Wagan Watson, Lionel Fogerty – poetry

Kim Scott – That Deadman Dance (Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, 2011)

Charles Perkins – A Bastard Like Me

Uncle Bill Neidjie – Old Man’s Story and Kakadu Man

ALSO check out the titles listed here.

There are also many awards specific to Indigenous literature, and the shortlists give you an idea of the cream of the crop:


Please reply and add suggestions!

Aboriginal Connections to water

Here are lesson plans from the ‘Water in the World’ Yr 7 Geography unit which incorporate Aboriginal perspectives.

aboriginal art symbols

aboriginal water connections teacher notes

Aboriginal water connections hand out

Yr 7 Aboriginal connections to water

AIATSIS Online Exhibition: Living off our Waters

No happily ever after here: Australia’s *latest* shame

I’m currently teaching Trash by Andy Mulligan. A great book which helps our generally privileged students interact with the idea of what it might be like living in 3rd world conditions.

But I’ve been careful to point out to the students that the sort of “police corruption”, lack of regard for the rights of the child, and poor living conditions are not confined to the 3rd world. We don’t have to look far to see examples in Australia.

Tonight, on Four Corners, ABC, one of the most abhorrent examples of child abuse perpetrated on a mass scale by Australian government institutions: a report about the treatment of child offenders in the NT Youth Detention Centres such as “Don Dale”.

A boy, driven crazy from solitary confinement for well over the legally allowed 72 hours, who had not been told how long his confinement was set for, breaks out of his cell into a corridor shared by 6 other solitary cells. He starts breaking light fittings and trying to break through the doors to the prison officers on the other side.  This is called a “riot” and the riot squad, with a police dog, enter and ten rounds of tear gas are sprayed through the whole area, affecting all 6 cells.

Two young boys housed in 1 of the other ‘solitary’ cells, playing cards and not offending anyone, are forced to hide under bedsheets from the tear gas. Not understanding what was happening, or what the gas was, they thought their lives were over and said their goodbyes to each other, huddled in the corner of the prison cell.

After, the detainees are pulled out, hand cuffed, laid on the ground outside and hosed down with a fire hose. One detainee, a particularly disliked troublemaker, is last to be taken outside; left for up to 8 minutes in the tear gas.  This boy has been incarcerated since the age of 12 and has suffered constant abuse because of his disagreeable nature.  When he later threatened to commit suicide at the age of 17 (still incarcerated), the response was not psychological assistance, but punishment- he was strapped into a mechanical chair with feet and hands cuffed and a spit hood covering his head, being left in this position in solitary confinement for 2 hours.

Read more here:


Australia still shaking off its colonial past

Shame, shame, shame.

Can’t believe we even need to discuss this – or sign a petition. Nil Entertainment released a mobile phone App/game in December with the theme of survival in the Australian desert. It promised its players they would meet “real Aborigines” and it encouraged players to kill the dangerous Aborigines in order to survive. All kinds of wrong – promoting stereotypes that the only “real” Aboriginal people are in the desert, not to mention promoting a new form of frontier violence and genocide and dehumanising Aboriginal people.

Even more shockingly, Apple rated the game PG for 12 yrs and over and made it available in Google Play stores for $4.49!!!! People pay for this stuff?!

Of course, most people are outraged. But there’s the usual proponents of “free speech” who believe those offended are being PC. I can’t see how this game “says” anything worth contributing to our society so the free speech argument is pretty weak.  I don’t like violent games at all – but any game making a joke out of targeting and killing a specific group of people (based on race, gender, interest group, whatever) is inappropriate.

The game was designed by Kristina Fedenkova at Nil Entertainment – I can’t find much about the company or game developer but encourage the boycotting of her other games listed at

Georgia Mantle has started a petition against this violent and racist rubbish here; I encourage you to sign: