Getting involved in teaching Australian Indigenous subjects

Written circa 2003.


There are probably a couple of thousand good reasons why someone might want to get involved in teaching either Indigenous subjects or aspects of subjects which impinge upon Indigenous people or their life. One of them is the rumour going round that the Carseldine Campus is one part of the Australian landmass that has not been excluded by Minister Ruddock from the Australian territory. Another is the vague thought that the original owners of this particular part of the country, prior to the invasion and subsequent dispossession, were possibly Aborigines. Yet another reason is that most social science knowledge is time and place specific. One reason which does not interest me, but could interest you, is that many of our students seem interested in gaining an appreciation of aspects of Indigenous life and ways of doing things.

One of the slightly troubling aspects of being involved with Indigenous topics is that it could require some rewriting of ten year old lecture notes that have stood you in good stead over the period. It might even involve coming to terms with Indigenous ways of thinking, learning and teaching. There is also the possibility that it might require you to meet with and even get to know some Indigenous people. I have also heard that some lecturers have had to engage in detailed intellectual debates with their Indigenous colleagues and in one extreme case the unfortunate lecturer has to accept that his previously held position was untenable in light of recent research. This poor fellow had studied under some of Australia’s finest white anthropologists, and had years before gone amongst ‘the natives’ clad in his khakis and pith helmet.

There is just two other reasons why you might want to get involved in teaching Indigenous subjects and the first is that you will get to work in conjunction with the staff of the Oodgeroo Unit – have an enjoyable, stimulating and challenging time. The second is that is great fun.