Personal histories

To define individual perspectives it is necessary to reflect on your own personal knowledge—your history, your beliefs and your attitudes.
 
Consider three distinct areas when reflecting:
  • the personal histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • the personal histories of the local area
  • the personal histories of non-Indigenous Australians.
The task for schools is to identify and articulate the different perspectives of staff on issues (events, knowledge or people) and the impact of these.
 
Reflection questions:
  • Why do I hold particular perspectives?
  • How were my perspectives formed?
  • Who and what influenced these perspectives?
  • Where and how do they affect my work within the school and community?
  • Do I need to rethink my position on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in my school’s policies and teaching and learning processes and practices?
Discussions should be guided by the following premises – personal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, personal local area histories and non-Indigenous histories.

Personal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories

Personal histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not representative of a type of knowledge, often labelled as ‘traditional knowledge’, or a type of history, ‘cultural conflict’ or ‘white or black’.

They are individual perspectives or positions on personal histories produced through multi-layered and multidimensional interactions, personal experiences and events.

The following points contribute to personal histories:
  • Since colonisation in Australia, the space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have occupied and interacted within is complex.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and Australian history have often been positioned as separate.
  • Much of the written media about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is written through a Western framework for a Western purpose.
  • The construction of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the manipulation of their knowledges has influenced the way they have interpreted who they are and who they ought to be.
  • Personal histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are based on experiences and influences from both Western and traditional knowledge systems.
  • Experiences and influences are complex, interrelated and individual, and are collective narratives of the past mediated by individuals and communities.
 

 Related information

 
"Even in the way we now understand ourselves, we define ourselves primarily in our difference to others and the descriptions and characteristics of this difference have been firmly developed within Western knowledge tradition".
Martin Nakata (2007)
Last updated
30 July 2014