Reconciliation In Our Primary Schools

1259 words - 6 pages

Reconciliation is a method that includes the reconstruction of relations, both individually and collectively. It is not a step that usually demands "being good to each other" but a long-term system that is relied on the requirements and interests of both groups. In order to promote reconciliation, each year Australia celebrates the National Reconciliation Week (NRW) which aims to give people around Australia, both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, some time to "reflect on achievements so far and on what must still be done to achieve reconciliation" (Reconciliation Australia, 2008). Moreover, education is widely recognised as the key to Reconciliation as it helps to satisfy lots of misconceptions about certain issues and "eradicate all the conflicts" (Karnes, 2002) which occur in both, schools and the social environment, therefore, teachers must show a very powerful and significant role in facilitating Reconciliation in their classrooms and the schools to which they are appointed.NRW, which was first celebrated in 1996, offers people across Australia the opportunity of reconciliation, to learn about the culture and history of Indigenous Australians and explore new and better ways of meeting challenges in our communities. It lies between two very significant dates in the history of Indigenous Australians; the 27th of May, which is the anniversary of the 1967 referendum where 90% of Australians voted to remove clauses in the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Indigenous Australians, and the 3rd of June, which is the date the High Court handed down its judgements on the "Mabo" case (Reconciliation Australia, 2008). Each year, NRW has a different theme and 2008's theme is "Reconciliation: it's all our story" due to the new Australian Government's intention to make a formal apology to the stolen generation, their families and communities and those who were affected by the Australian laws in the past, in order to close the gap between both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This is a very important event in the history of Australia which allows all Australians, young and old, to reverse the disadvantages experienced by Indigenous Australians in our community.Teachers play a very vital role in implementing reconciliation in their classrooms, the schools to which they are appointed at and the wider community. "Education is framed by society and in return, moulds that society" (AARE, 2004, pp. 2), therefore it is important that teachers take into consideration, that their role as teachers is not only limited to the school they teach in, but they are seen as "caregivers", "moral models", "ethical mentors" (Peterson et al, 2002) and most importantly "change agents" who teach children how to morally and socially respect each other's ethnicity, race and other social barriers and by integrating every student into the small social structure of the cooperative group (Bandura, 2004) in order to build good characters, make a good life and, therefore, build a good community in this challenging and multicultural context.In order to successfully facilitate reconciliation in the classroom, teachers should be aware of the multicultural society in which they live in and the issues which are common in such societies. One of the most important issues that teachers might come across in her career is the Indigenous Education. Because Aborigines and Torres Islanders are the most disadvantaged communities in our society, teachers should be able to deliver effective programs for Indigenous students (this would be most effective if taught in the NRW) and to teach all students about their culture and heritage which would result in narrowing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, in both the classroom and the society. They should also teach the true history of Australia, teaching the issues which the Indigenous population face or have faced in this country, enhancing the participation and self esteem of Indigenous students, counteracting racism in Australian society and stopping the cycle of misinformation or stereotypes about Indigenous Australians (Craven, 1999). Other minor, but very important activities, that teachers might perform in their classrooms in NRW in order to promote or facilitate reconciliation amongst their students are displaying Indigenous posters, listening to Indigenous music or speakers, studying aboriginal arts or crafts and visiting local Aboriginal sites (Simms, 2008). Showing students the importance of such activities and its significance to such a society, provides them with a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal culture, in particular and its importance to the Australian history as a whole.In addition, teachers should also ensure that their students are sensitive and do not make fun of anyone's answers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in particular. Classroom and moral learning intends to "assist in greater information or knowledge acquisition together with a development of skills and sensitivities aimed at increasing an understanding of, and to practice, cultural respect" (Panozzo & Walsh, 2000). It is important to make sure that all students in the classroom are made to feel comfortable and appreciate the fact that everyone is there to learn from the game and from each other. Students should gain a first hand appreciation of the meaning of reconciliation and morality, and teachers should provide direct moral instruction and guidance through explanation, classroom discussions, encouragement of positive behavior and corrective moral feedback when students engage in actions harmful to self or others (Peterson et al, 2002).In conclusion, it is clear that education is the key to reconciliation in our society as teachers are able to shape their students into unique positive, socially ethical moral models who demonstrate a high level of respect and responsibility and discuss morally significant events happening, nowadays. By incorporating the theme of reconciliation in our classrooms, we then give children, whom are our future, the ability to take perspective, the ability to work as part of the team and the ability to appreciate others regardless of their race, gender, religion, ethnicity or social background. They would then be able to make judgments not based on the common stereotypes but on what they consider is wrong and needs to be fixed within a certain community. It's a very important factor which requires accurate planning and wise judgment by both the teachers and the schools, which helps the educational system get better and better towards the future.References:AARE (2004). Learning to listen to Indigenous voice: dialogue and dilemmas. Retrieved on May 2nd, 2008 from http://www.aare.edu.au/03pap/irv03664.pdfBandura, E (2004). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Craven, R. (1999). Teaching Aboriginal Education. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, p.262.Karnes, F (2002). Know your legal rights in gifted education. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.Panozzo, A. & Walsh, G. (2000). The Bridge Towards Reconciliation: Teachers and facilitators guide.Peterson, K., Mactier, A., Peterson, B., Bone, R., Scheer, S., Meyer, F., Wilmot, K., & Miller, K. (2002). Nebraska character education guidelines. Nebraska: Department of EducationReconciliation Australia (2008). National Reconciliation Week. Retrieved on April 3rd, 2008 from http://www.reconciliation.org.au/i-cms.isp?page=97Simms, S. (2008, April 30). NAIDOC week and Reconciliation (Notes of lecture).

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