Indigenous knowing and understanding

This term started with Ways of Knowing – a staff leaning day focused on indigenous understanding. John Bradley from Monash University delivered the keynote focusing on ‘How do we know?’

He reminded us of the diversity of indigenous Australians and showed us a map of ‘Aboriginal Australia’.  There were at least 275 different languages : ‘if we accept Europe, we have to accept this … The distinctiveness must be acknowledged … ‘
He talked about the important relationship with ecosystems and language; their impact on each other. He showed us a map of the area he knows best, south of Arnhem Land and talked about the various overlays we could apply to our vision of that space. He showed us his mapping project that was intended to pass on indigenous knowledge from one generation to the next and a drawing project which he could not even get accepted into the local school curriculum.
Some of the key questions he raised were:
  • ‘How in the world of western knowledge do we place this?’
  • ‘Why does the west think its best?’
  • ‘How do we undo our educational reliance on Descartes and the French Enlightenment?’
  • ‘Diversity (of what we know, and now we know) is the key’.
It was a provocative presentation, particularly for me his defence of cultural norms that eclude women, but a very important discussion to have and a great start to the term.

Scribble Maps

I love maps, and the applications that developers are building on sites like GoogleMaps.  One of the nicest I’ve seen lately is Scribble Maps, which allows you to draw on a Google Map.

I made one for the ride our staff BUG (BIcycle User Group) is planning for the day of the Swimming Sports. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t embed here (I don’t think WordPress loves java) but you can see the map here.

My other favourite map tool is UsaMap, which allows you to create a personalised map, with permanent URL to share for an event or activity. I think I would have enjoyed Geography at school a lot more with these tools. Mind you, I’ve yet to see GoogleEarth being used in a classroom, so maybe things have still got a fair way to go.

Here’s our meeting place for the ride to the sports, if you want to joins us! I’ve embedded it as a screen shot, because that wouldn’t embed in WordPress either. (sighs) No wonder some of our teachers don’t stick with these tools.


Street View


Google Maps, a handy little tool I often use when travelling around Melbourne, just got a little more powerful and a trifle scary with the introduction of ‘Street View’ in Australia, the ability to zoom in at street level on just about any street.

I’ve never seen them, but apparently little Google-branded cars have been trawling our streets photographing everything they can, and pulling it into one giant photogrpahic map of the world (or at least three countries so far) If you had a faster internet connection than me you could even cruise up and down the streets of your choice, looking at houses, or shops.

It’s all slightly Orwellian in some ways, except that we all have access to it.  I like the way that you can create your own Google Maps of places you go to, favourite restaurants and the like, but this is a new dimension to all that. Imagine the data involved! If you want to talk to me about it I’ll be at the Pastry Kitchen (above) for a coffee around 8.30 this morning.