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Knowledge frameworks of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Worldviews of indigenous peoples around the world are typically highly integrated: each aspect of culture, history and society connects with all other aspects. This is true of the worldviews or ‘knowledge frameworks’ of Australia’s First Peoples.

A curriculum that offers all learners an understanding of Aboriginal peoples’ and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledge frameworks promotes a greater appreciation of the diversity within these two distinct cultural groups.

The table below provides examples of conceptual frameworks that have been used for over 60,000 years in Australia. These frameworks can be embedded in the curriculum to inform teachers’ pedagogy and illustrate how working, learning and doing are integrated and holistic.

Developing strong and respectful relationships with the local community/ies is the key to success in implementing these frameworks.

For more information see:

Holistic approach to Indigenous studies

This framework was developed by Ernie Grant, Djirrabal Elder, and published by the Innisfail and District Education Centre.

His holistic approach to learning promotes cross-cultural understanding and adds value to learning.

Approaches: conceptual, holistic and spiralling

The approaches outlined in the QCAA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Handbook 2010 illustrate how knowledge and learning are integrated and holistic.

The strategies are not exhaustive, but are tools to gain further insight into how the worldviews of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They need to be incorporated into the planning, design and delivery of teaching and learning.

Eight Aboriginal ways of learning

The ‘8 Aboriginal ways of learning’ framework involves eight interconnected pedagogies:

  • story sharing, i.e. narrative-driven learning
  • learning maps, i.e. visualised learning processes
  • non-verbal, i.e. hands-on/reflective techniques
  • symbols & images, i.e. use of metaphors and symbols
  • land links, i.e. land-based learning
  • non-linear, i.e. indirect, synergistic logic, interdisciplinary approach
  • deconstruct reconstruct, e.g. modelled/scaffolded genre mastery
  • community links, i.e. connection to community.

The pedagogies are straightforward to use and may suit a variety of students’ needs.

Inquiry skills

Aboriginal inquiry skills and Torres Strait Islander inquiry skills are ways of working, learning and doing, which are embedded in culture.
Indigenous principles, such as community responsibility, lifelong learning, cross-generational resonance and revisiting, inform the development of these skills

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