Research by Annette Rome and Kim Anderson has found that non-Indigenous teachers and students develop a robust understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing through an inquiry-based approach to learning.

The research investigated the impact of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) Bunuba/Walmajarryi unit of inquiry on teachers’ and students’ understandings of other ways of knowing.

The researchers found that the trans-disciplinary unit enables learning about Indigenous Australia in an authentic, rigorous and meaningful way. In particular, the unit enables:

  • teachers to better source and use Indigenous-related resources
  • teachers to better integrate Indigenous knowledge into their classes
  • teachers and students to increase their Indigenous knowledge, and
  • teachers and students to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the differences between non-Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous knowledge.

The research also found that student learning through direct interaction with Bunuba/Walmajarri leaders ‘made learning about Indigenous people more real’. Teachers also credited their increased understanding of the differences between non-Indigenous and Indigenous ways of knowing and being to their direct interaction with Bunuba/Walmajarri leaders.

Teachers of the unit reported that depth of learning, the ‘real nature’ of learning, students’ engagement and teachers’ confidence in incorporating Indigenous knowledge in their classes all increased as a result of the direct involvement of Bunuba/Walmajarri leaders in the unit, essentially as primary sources on Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

More than half of students also reported, ‘I now know more about my own culture by learning about Indigenous culture.’ This finding confirms that a key objective of the unit of inquiry to develop students’ capability in learning to learn, expressed in the unit as, ‘We learn more when we reflect on other ways of knowing,’ is being successfully met.

Read Impact of programs such as the Wesley College Bunuba/Walmajarri unit in terms of changing understandings of Indigenous ways of knowing by non-Indigenous students by Annette Rome and Kim Anderson.

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