Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Successful Indigenous/Aboriginal Education

A worrying trend is seeing high performing indigenous students in year 9/10 fall away in year 11/12. The success of students that buck the trend seems highly dependent on the contribution of a few people in schools.

Firstly the AEIO is one link in the chain. This is the person that has had the perseverence to keep the kids coming to school. They discover and solve issues on a regular basis and to be successful are firmly entrenched in their communities.

The follow the dream programme and their coordinators do a great job in lifting students to a level where university is a potential option. I've seen students, many that have been given up on, be brought 'back online' multiple times and crawl toward some form of success in year 12.

Individual teachers are such an influence on these students lives. Many of these students feel persecuted in the classroom by students and teachers. A good teacher can redirect some of this insecurity into the student seeing the consequences of their own negative behaviour and the same teachers also investigates any ongoing social issues themselves. And when I say good teachers, I mean great teachers, as these teachers are giving life changing assistance and it's not something just anyone can do. I say that with confidence as I'm pretty useless at it, despite best of intentions on many occassions.

Student support and integration are key components. Successful students can be persecuted by their own, leading to dumbing down their ability and overacting behavioual problems. Student integration into non-indigenous social groups can help break the helplessness cycle. Great student indigenous role models especially in year 10,11,12 prove to be so important. They show that success can be achieved, it's ok to work hard and quite possibly fun/cool too!

Administration is often the missing link as they are often seen as the punitive rather than supporting source. The punitive support is essential as there are many lower performing students that require that punitive backbone to underpin their positive behaviour. The other half of the equation is the ability of administration to assist teachers, programme coordinators, students and AEIO's to promote ongoing student success.

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