At present Australia has emerged to be one of the most cosmopolitan and dynamic societies of the world, boasting of a rich cultural past. While the nation has a rich indigenous history, as a result of the ancestors of the Indigenous Australians settling in Australia, around four to six thousand years back, Australia has also witnessed the emergence of the European settlement. As a result, a variety of historical events had occurred in the past, out of which one of the most remarkable events was the event of the Stolen Generation (Short, 2016). After years of colonial settlement, the re-socialization program was being started with the purpose of improving the lives of the indigenous people, and accordingly the indigenous children were being removed from their respective families owing to the intervention of the Australian Federal and State government. The generation of the indigenous children forcibly removed from their homes between the years of 1910 and 1970, were being referred to as the “Stolen Generation” (Mitrou et al., 2014).
Initially, the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Island dwellers used to live a life of seclusion, as the impact of the European settlement was being deemed to be profoundly disruptive to the life, customs and the culture of the indigenous people. Although the forced removal of the children was meant to help in the process of the integration of the indigenous people into the modern society, this event had adverse impact on the social and emotional life of the indigenous people (Pilger, 2014). First of all, the purpose was the assimilation of the black people into the white community, and the natural elimination of the racial inequality. However, even though the black children were being adopted by the white families, the indigenous people were refused to be accepted as equals in the European society. It is needless to state here that the children compelled to relocate against their wishes, were never happy with the governmental decision, that was being forcefully thrust on them. Although the children were being placed in the respective adoptive families or foster care homes, they were not being properly taken care of. In fact, on the contrary most of these children were psychologically and sexually abused, and thus their overall well-being and health were not being properly taken care of. While staying in the government funded foster homes, the children of the Indigenous community were often punished harsh punishment, and were complained of have never received minimal affection and care from the authority. The children lived in continual denial of their past and neither were not they educated, nor were they being made aware of their family history (Terszac, 2016). The children grew up being neglected and deprived, and consequently, the removal of these children from their families, led to the high rate depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress and suicide tendencies among the adult members of the generation.
Besides, as far as the parents of the relocated children were concerned, the parents were devastated with the overwhelming grief of losing their child forever. As a result of the transfer of a considerable number of children from their native lands and cultures, one could witness a remarkable disruption of the indigenous cultural values. As a result, much of the cultural knowledge of the indigenous communities was lost forever. The forceful removal of the children from their parents, without getting their consent, was an act that deliberately breached the question of human rights (Funston & Herring, 2016).
The history of any country plays an integral role in shaping the learning mind of the young students, who are the potential future residents of that country. However, the Aboriginal history of Australia spans approximately over a time period of 50,000 years, as a result of which, the history of the Indigenous people has been purposively omitted from the academic curriculum of the Australian schools and colleges. However, it has become exigent to restructure the academic curriculum and reconfigure the Australian understanding of the Aboriginal history. One of the most important academic skills that can be promoted through the historical inquiry is empathy. At present, Australia has one of the most diverse cultures in the entire world, and hence it is highly important to appreciate and recognize the actual importance of cultural diversity. As it is a well-known fact that racism is a major issue in Australia, it is important for the educators to ensure that the academic curriculum will be able to develop empathy among the Australian students (Day & Francisco 2014). A comprehensive understanding and an in-depth analysis of the cultural history of the indigenous people, with special reference to the atrocities inflicted on the children of the “Stolen Generation”, can help hem undermine the racist viewpoints prevalent in the society.
Most importantly, an in-depth understanding of the cultural past of the students of the indigenous community is highly important. It is highly important to be aware of the indigenous worldview, and hence accordingly an understanding of the challenges of the students of the Stolen Generation must be taken into consideration. The children of the generation usually suffer from low self-esteem, which ultimately leads to the problem of depression and despondence. Hence, the educators have to take up a more careful approach while teaching these students, as they are comparatively more sensitive (Barnhardt, 2014). Hence, the teacher must learn to appreciate their little efforts and contribution, as a reward and incentive centric educational strategy can largely help in motivating the indigenous learners.
Since the students of the Stolen Generation suffer from a vicious cycle of poverty and social disadvantage, it is important to adopt an alternative method of teaching the students. A more supportive hand has to be extended on part of the teacher, and almost each of the indigenous children requires distinct attention of the teachers. Since the students have lost a sense of belonging to their cultural roots and traditions, and are mostly unaware of their family ties, the educators should extend love, guidance and parental affection to the learners. Herein lays the importance of building relationship with the indigenous students, both within and outside the school (Baker, 2016). The indigenous people have always been compelled to abhor and deny the Aboriginal culture and yet as molested and abused these children were, they had been unable to embrace the much distinct European culture. As a result, these indigenous students have developed a sense of fear and apathy towards the Eurocentric educational systems as well. These schools can appear to be highly intimidating to the parents of these indigenous students as well, as they themselves possess negative memory about their educational life. This can result in poor home school relation, and hence the teachers are also required to establish the informal social relationship between the parents and the teachers (Kovach, 2015). Outside the school premises, the teachers would be required to build a sense of trust with the respective parents, and hence the teachers and the educators would be required to have a clear understanding of the psychological state of mind of the people belonging to the Stolen Generation (Tuck et al., 2014).
The indigenous people indeed had a very traumatic past, the memory of which cannot be easily obliterated from the minds of the indigenous people. Hence, a sense of personal investment for promoting the benefits of the indigenous community is required, which is usually absent in case of most of the teachers. Hence, seen in this perspective, it is highly important that the educators have a deep knowledge regarding the cultural history of the Stolen Generation (Tuck et al., 2014). The teachers need to develop their understanding of the history of each of the students so that the teachers, especially teaching in the remote areas of Australia, do not leave the cities on the weekends, and rather make an effort to commit their time and devotion for interacting with the indigenous community.
The indigenous people form an integral part of the Australia population, and hence t is imperative to provide proper education to them. However, the teachers responsible for providing education to the people belonging to the indigenous communities must give up their traditional method of teaching. It should be noted that the teachers must develop their understanding about the cultural history of the indigenous people, for gaining an in-depth into their psychology. The children as well as the parents of the indigenous community, who have been the direct or indirect victims of the problems of Stolen Generation, usually do not have a very positive attitude towards the Eurocentric method of school education. In most of the schools of Queensland, it has been observed that the proportion of the Aboriginal children is remarkably low (approximately 5% or even less) (Yule, 2016). These students during their early years of education are often found to suffer from a sense of alienation and thus they feel apathetic in seeking education in a school, populated mostly by the white teachers and students. Their lack of interest or enthusiasm in academic matters or their different response towards the style of teaching of the teacher should not be taken in an offensive way by the teacher (Gardner & Mushin, 2013).
The cultural behavior of these Aboriginal students, especially during the years of their early education is quite different from any of the white children. Hence, it is necessary to build an awareness of the culture and history of these students and their families. These children, unlike the ordinary students, do not usually have a strong confidence, and rather they suffer from poor self-perception regarding their academic ability (Agbim et al., 2013). Besides, owing to the previous negative experience of the students’ parents with school, the students are being discouraged by their families, and hence the teachers are required to ensure that the students are being emotionally, behaviorally and cognitively engaged. There is no gain stating the fact that the early education of any child plays a vital role in the life of a child, as it influences a child’s ability to learn and gain employment in subsequent period of his life. Hence, the school-based factors such as the teaching approach of the educator, his academic instruction to the student or the school environment of the institution can play a major role in the development of an indigenous child during the early years of his life (Erwin & Muzzin, 2015). Truancy has been a major problem with the indigenous children in Australia, and most of the students accused of the same, have been found to be the indirect victims of the stolen generation. The survivors of the Stolen Generation were reported to have been unable to obliterate the experience of sexual abuse, racism and disruption of family life, and consequently their children were found to respond much slowly to the Australian education system. In addition, some of the white Australian teachers, being untrained usually have low performance expectations from these students that further de-motivate them (Agbim et al., 2013).
A welcoming culture, a positive educational environment, high levels of involvement in the community of the indigenous people can only help a teacher educate the students. However, for attaining this level of commitment the teachers are required to be well-trained and groomed, so as to inculcate strong and effective leadership among them. It has been observed as stated above that the indigenous students studying in the early years of education, are usually unwilling to attend or engage with the school. These students are usually intimidated by the school environment and are consequently less likely to respond to the questions while being asked in the school. Hence, more interactive activities that enable the students participate and engage in a more active way with the lessons is required. It is equally important to encourage the students’ participation by recognizing their skills before the class, offering them small gifts, and above all incorporating the student cultural identity throughout the school process.
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