Over the past three decades there has been increasing recognition of difficulties experienced by Aboriginal students within Australian education systems. In response to these continuing educational outcome gaps, an enhanced teacher education program was developed that would augment the standard undergraduate training so that graduate teachers in New South Wales would be better prepared for initial appointment to schools with significant Aboriginal enrolments. A key initiative of this teacher training program was based on the premise that successful engagement with Aboriginal families and communities has been recognized as crucial to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. Hence, the establishment of effective school-community relationships depended on teachers learning about Aboriginal communities including variations in language use, values and educational aspirations. The need for training to prepare teachers for working in the Aboriginal community was also highlighted in the Australian Senate’s Katu Kalpa Report of 2000 which found that cross cultural communication skills were a major issue for beginning teachers and noted the problems arising from teachers who had only limited prior contact with Aboriginal people. This issue was also noted by Bourke, Rigby & Burden (2000) who were alarmed that teachers received very little, if any, cross-cultural training and, as a result, found it difficult to participate in community activities or communicate effectively with Aboriginal students and their families. This paper reports on an evaluation of the enhanced Aboriginal teacher education training program conducted in 2008/2009 where the importance of community engagement was identified as a major outcome for beginning teachers who had participated in the program.
|Keywords:||Aboriginal Education, Preservice Teacher Education, Community Engagement|
Associate Professor in Education, Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield/ Sydney, NSW, Australia
Senior Lecturer in Education, Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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