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’. ┬áThere 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.

Graduation Day

Well, it’s not really Graduation DAY, because she finished the course last year, but tonight is my daughter’s graduation ceremony at Monash University. Like lots of young people to day it’s been a fluid journey from double-degree to single-degree to shifts in emphasis and interest, discovering what she can do and what she loves (and doesn’t – take that marketing!) along the way.

Truth is, she doesn’t even want to go to the ceremony; ‘it’s only an Arts Degree…’ and ‘Do I really have to hire a gown?’ and all that. And, she’s already doing further study and doesn’t see this really as any end-point.

But, I’m glad we’re going to stop for a little while tonight and celebrate a moment in that journey. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

And, I couldn’t be more convinced, if ever I needed to be in these strange times, of the absolute centrality of learning in your life; the critical nature of the things we do in teaching and learning.

Above: First day at school; doesn’t seem that long ago!