Warwick school leading the way in indigenous training
INCORPORATING Indigenous learning into Queensland schools has been recognised as an important component of the Queensland syllabus, but one local school has gone the extra mile.
The chance to get out of the classroom and into the bush was more than just a leisurely escape for St Mary's teachers who are leading the way by incorporating Indigenous culture into their professional training.
Teachers from Warwick's St Mary's Primary School are leaders on the path to incorporating local Indigenous knowledge and culture into their professional training.
About thirty teachers from Warwick's St Mary's Primary School ventured out for a moving and experiential day in the tranquil Maryvale country with Indigenous cultural awareness trainer and tour guide Sharman Parsons of Cicada Woman Tours.
St Mary's principal Margaret Grew said the teachers felt they needed a deeper understanding of the spirituality of Australian aboriginal culture.
"It's all very well to read about Aboriginal culture and history in books, but to be able to talk with someone who is so keen to share their personal knowledge and story is something so powerful," Mrs Grew said.
"The conversation among teachers on the bus ride back was how about rich an experience it was to be able to hear Ms Parsons tell her stories first hand.
"She spoke about her totems and her deep sense of spirituality and discovering her own Aboriginal identity."
Ms Parsons said she was impressed with the initiative taken by St Mary's teachers and acknowledged the importance of making the journey to be out in the country and on the land.
"Honestly they are leading the way by participating and being so supportive," Ms Parsons said.
"It is really important and so special to be out on country, opening them up to this completely different way of seeing the land where they connect to it individually as well."
Ms Parson said it was a crucial step to promoting recognition of Indigenous culture and history in schools.
"It's about getting that equality and presence of Aboriginal knowledges. Indigenous people would love to feel they have that voice and a place in education along with all the other subjects you learn at school."
Hearing Ms Parsons' stories gave the teachers a much deeper comprehension of Indigenous spirituality, according to Mrs Grew.
"When you sit down and speak with someone who lives it first hand, someone who actually experiences it, you have a sense of understanding.
"We can often be changed and challenged by a story that we know is true."
Mrs Grew said it was the perfect beginning to the year.
"Our theme for 2018 is 'a story in the making' and we felt as though the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories are so rich with tradition and spirituality that it was a great way to start."
Ms Parsons agreed that taking the time to listen and share with others had a powerful impact.
"People connect immediately when a story is shared and how it unfolds is very real - it is a living breathing experience.
"Sharing is really crucial to understanding and acknowledging similarities in your own human experience. It's an important part of that healing process as we address the wrong doings from the past."
Ms Parsons hoped the messages and experiences from the day would trickle down to students in the school.
There are almost 20 students with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background at St Marys and Ms Grew said the training experience would help promote inclusion and understanding.
"As a Catholic school it's an important part of who we are to be able to embrace all cultures and our Australian aboriginal culture is so important," Mrs Grew said.
"It has added value to our Aboriginal reconciliation action plan, helping us to do justice to that."
Both the teachers and Ms Parsons spoke positively about the full day experience, which included an introduction to country, a walk along the river and a delicious 'bush tucker' lunch featuring lots of local flavours.