Last year, Jesse King, our Digital Solutions Team Leader was asked to write on behalf of the Stronger Smarter Institute for the ABC. Jesse’s passion for education and desire to enact transformational change in the Australian educational system for Indigenous students is woven beautifully into his explanation of the challenges we face.
In his article, King urges us to consider the ‘third cultural space’ that exists between one of the oldest educational systems in the world, and the western education system adopted by Australian schooling. By understanding the intricacies of each space we are better equipped to build a supportive foundation for learning solutions to ensure meaningful change for all students in Australia, particularly Indigenous Australians.
Commitment to meaningful change for marginalised students is one of the foundations upon which the Stronger Smarter Approach (SSA) is predicated. The SSA reinforces that the responsibility for change lies with each of us and together we are stronger to surmount obstacles. The Stronger Smarter Institute focuses on processes to create a third cultural space in Australian classrooms and strive for transformational change in the Indigenous student experience. King notes that instead of focusing on the barriers, or the reasons not to enact change, we should , focus on the rich opportunities that present themselves and the reasons why we should enact change. We must not be discouraged by the complexities of the current system, and instead, harness our power to surmount these hurdles.
How do we shift expectations?
At Stronger Smarter, we work with educators and the community to enact the Stronger Smarter Approach. This is the subtle shift away from the rhetoric of having high expectations of our students, towards high expectations for our students.
The current system expects the best from our teachers yet often fails to provide them with adequate resources and tools to perform at their highest possible potential. At the Institute, we resource and equip teachers to navigate their role as a facilitative leader to unlock the strengths students bring into the classroom. King states that the Stronger Smarter Approach ‘provides the students with a chance to be proud and strong in their identity and smart enough to achieve in any educational setting in the world.’
Flipping the Script
Sadly, Australia’s education system has a poor track record when it comes to recognising the sophistication and strengths of Indigenous histories and cultures, and the value of including Indigenous Knowledge in the curriculum. This has led to negative repercussions for many Indigenous students who, for this reason, may not have felt comfortable or supported to engage with this style of education. The Stronger Smarter Approach encourages schools, teachers and communities to approach the system with open-mindedness and willingness to enact change. It encourages educators to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing in order to establish a strength-based position and address the inequities in our system.
As a society, we have an opportunity to change the norm. With this opportunity comes the responsibility to imagine a better future and actively take measures to work towards it. Through recognising the third cultural space and understanding and accepting the perspectives and experiences of others, we have the power to unlock a child’s strengths and provide a chance for them to be proud and strong in their identity.
Join us now to embrace a strong and positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society.