Embedding Aboriginal Perspectives in Homeschooling

Today is Sorry Day and I would like to extend my apologies to all Aboriginal people past, present and future from where I live on Darug and Gundungurra land.

One thing I’ve enjoyed about homeschooling over the last few months is the freedom to embed different cultural perspectives into our curriculum, particularly Indigenous voices. Each week I’ve tried to include at least one lesson to specifically do so. Here are some examples of what we’ve done.

(Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this post does contain one image of someone who has died.)

Butterflies – In this episode Bluey, Bingo and Judo learn the importance of apologising which seemed like a good way to learn about “Sorry Day”. We watched this reading of Sorry Day and learned more about how this day of recognition came to be from Behind the News. We also learned about the Awabakal Women’s butterfly cave.
Sticky Gecko – We made gecko dot paintings and learned about Aboriginal artists. There are a lot of videos out there of non-Indigenous artists appropriating this technique so it was important I find videos from authentic Aboriginal voices.
Flat Pack – We used Bluey’s cave drawings as an opportunity to look at Aboriginal cave drawings and learn some common symbols in Aboriginal artwork. Ms 7 chose a dreamtime story Tiddalick the Frog to re-create using some existing symbols and some she made up.
Army – In our exploration of ANZAC Day and military service we chose to focus on Aboriginal men and women who served, highlighting the discrimination they faced upon returning. Ms 7 chose one serviceman to write a report on.
Shaun – Of all the silly episodes, one about an out-of-control emu inspired me to include the book Young Dark Emu into our work. We learned about the “emu in the sky” and collected sandstone to turn into ochre which we used to paint ourselves and a tree in our yard with symbols including, of course, an emu.
Shadowlands – We read the dreamtime story The Echidna and the Shade Tree and I created a worksheet of follow-up questions for Ms 7, which led to a discussion about why dreamtime stories were created and why we still listen to them.
Rug Island – In addition to learning about Pacific islands, we also learned about Torres Strait Islanders. Ms 7 wrote a paper about the symbolism of the TI flag.
In general I’ve been trying to incorporate books written by Aboriginal authors, doing an acknowledgment of country and trying to teach my kids about the way Australia was colonised and how this influences the telling of history. I know primary schools still have a long way to go in terms of incorporating Aboriginal history and culture so I hope this at least gives them a little bit of foundation.
I wrote this post to demonstrate that it’s easier than you might think to make these curriculum connections. With homeschooling, one of my concerns has always been that I don’t want to give my kids a myopic view of the world. Particularly as a migrant who did not grow up learning about Australian history I was worried I’d be out of my depth in terms of teaching this subject. But really it’s just a matter of finding the right resources and I’m glad to say I’ve learned a lot along the way too.
I’m not an expert by any means and will probably make mistakes along the way. Certainly they’ll benefit more when they can learn directly from the lived experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But while our homeschooling journey is coming to an end “officially” I also still have plenty of opportunities as a parent to try to decolonise my children’s education.

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