‘What matters is the girth of its belly. Can it swallow us or not?’ — Shifting values towards new models of teaching in Aboriginal schools

‘What matters is the girth of its belly. Can it swallow us or not?’ — Shifting values towards new models of teaching in Aboriginal schools Journal Article

The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education

  • Author(s): Smith, R. G.
  • Published: 1997
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Volume: 25
  • Edition: 2015/07/01
  • ISBN: 1326-0111

Abstract: At a maths workshop we were discussing measurement as a cultural concept. One of the balanda staff asked an Aboriginal colleague how he might depict the length of a crocodile. Another Aboriginal teacher laughed. ‘You balanda always think length is important. What matters to us is the girth of the belly. Can it swallow us or not!’Territory-wide the government, through its Department of Education, has the unenviably difficult task of maintaining and providing education which is both equitable and accessible to a cohort of students who represent a third of its student population. While their common qualifier is that these students are ‘Indigenous,’ their disparate worldviews often only share some common features. It seems that in recent years, rather than meet these diverse needs the department has determined that the only way around the difficulty is to apply a relatively prescriptive curriculum to its remote Indigenous schools. This is evidenced by the Intensive English, Foundation and General Studies programs now in place for secondary aged students. Many (including Indigenous) educators argue that perhaps this is the only pragmatic answer.

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Suggested Citation
Smith, R. G., 1997, ‘What matters is the girth of its belly. Can it swallow us or not?’ — Shifting values towards new models of teaching in Aboriginal schools, Edition:2015/07/01, Volume:25, Journal Article, viewed 17 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=13608.

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