More than just teaching : educating indigenous young people from remote communities
It takes a special person to work with Aboriginal students, one who understands that the most important concern of families is a child's well-being and that the most important thing in a child's life is family. When Aboriginal people from remote communities in the Northern Territory send their students to school, the most pressing question in their minds is this: will my child be happy? While they are interested in their children's learning and want their children to learn skills that will give them access to mainstream society, their most urgent queries are really about the welfare of their children. The choices Indigenous people make regarding education are based first and foremost on relationships and how effectively pastoral care operates within the school. In particular, Indigenous families want to know how well the school is able to deal effectively with things like teasing and bullying. Initiatives to keep and support Indigenous students at Yirara College, Alice Springs, in recent years have included looking out for students at risk of substance abuse and responding to the educational needs of students who cannot sustain any more than a few weeks at boarding school by providing on-site education in remote communities. Indigenous students need support in the classroom and outside of the formal curriculum. It is best if families can always deal with the same person, or group of people, because relationships are important, and it takes time to build up trust and rapport. Indigenous education is about relationships - whole sets of relationships, between families and schools, students and staff, and students and students. It is about pastoral care and well-being. It is about giving to those who cannot give back, and it is incarnational - daring to seek out and serve those whom many have forgotten. [Author abstract, ed]
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