Aboriginal knowledge, the history classroom and the Australian university
Article publication date: 24 November 2021
Issue publication date: 22 November 2022
This article considers the impact of competing knowledge structures in teaching Australian Indigenous history to undergraduate university students and the possibilities of collaborative teaching in this space.
The authors, one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal, draw on a history of collaborative teaching that stretches over more than a decade, bringing together conceptual reflective work and empirical data from a 5-year project working with Australian university students in an introductory-level Aboriginal history subject.
It argues that teaching this subject area in ways which are culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students, and which resist knowledge structures associated with colonial ways of conveying history, is not only about content but also about building learning spaces that encourage students to decolonise their relationships with Australian history.
This article considers collaborative approaches to knowledge transmission in the university history classroom as an act of decolonising knowledge spaces rather than as a model of reconciliation.
This paper forms part of a special section “The history of knowledge and the history of education”, guest edited by Joel Barnes and Tamson Pietsch.
The authors would like to acknowledge that the student data collection discussed in this article began as part of an ACU Teaching and Development Grant, “Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in curriculum—for staff and students”. That project, mentored by Associate Professor Theda Thomas, had two strands, one based in the ACU National School of Education (led by Associate Professor Nerida Blair) and one based in the ACU National School of Arts (led by the authors). We would like to thank and acknowledge these women, and all of the other staff who participated in the project's workshop, for their contributions to the big picture thinking that prompted our longitudinal study.
Musgrove, N. and Wolfe, N. (2022), "Aboriginal knowledge, the history classroom and the Australian university", History of Education Review, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 123-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-04-2021-0010
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