When you have a clear understanding of why we teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and how your own planning contributes to broader curriculum aims and priorities you enhance the value of the EATSIPS framework.
Curriculum planning within schools occurs at several levels: whole school, juncture, and year levels. Including Indigenous perspectives within those levels ensures they are deeply embedded.
The student-centred focus considers the curriculum from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student's perspective - where they come from. Family histories, language, and culture and practices are valued within the curriculum and seen as the critical starting points for all curricula. Assessment is scaffolded from what students know, to the unfamiliar, and then refocused to the family or community context where possible.
Developing curriculum material
There are many approaches to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the curriculum.
You may see them as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies courses or units, key components within a general unit of study, or knowledge within a general unit of study.
This is the most visible part of implementing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the school, but it is often hard to see what goes on behind the scenes to implement and maintain a culturally appropriate curriculum.
Whatever approaches to teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives you adopt within the classroom, they are not embedded into the curriculum unless they are consistently and explicitly found within the intended curriculum and the pedagogies used in enactment. Considering various approaches might include:
- Distinct studies—teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives as a focused study unit or course. The Queensland Studies and Assessment Authority (QCAA) offers schools the opportunity to select Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies as a senior authority subject. Other opportunities for embedding include, actioning C2C lessons and including aspects of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages syllabus as a school program. Many resources are available for teachers but when this approach is taken, you need strong community partnerships and engagement in the curriculum.
- Selective inclusion—this refers to making specific content choices for including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives within the curriculum in various parts of the process. When planning, you can consider where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are explicitly taught or assessed. This might include examples to illustrate general points or concepts, guest speakers, assessing a particular knowledge or way of working (applying protocols) and applying skills to unfamiliar contexts, such as a local cultural context. This approach focuses predominantly on learning 'about' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural perspectives and personal histories 'from' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Critical inclusion—this approach focuses on reframing attitudes and perceptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the class context. It helps to challenge representations, textual and attitudinal, through critical analysis and unpacking of historically developed responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This approach prioritises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the first part of the unit and refers students back to this new learning. Individual attitudes and perceptions are challenged, and a shared history is exposed.
- Embedded—this approach encompasses all of the above approaches and the many other approaches that exist within curriculum and pedagogical process. The difference with this approach is that inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives becomes a part of the curriculum and pedagogical processes in a way where decisions by teachers become less and less conscious and deliberate and more and more automatic.