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  • Plea for auto­chtho­ne education systems


    Jörg Markowitsch

    'In my blood it runs' (2019) is an intimate portrait of an Aboriginal boy and his family, as well as testimony to the glaring shortcomings of the Australian education system in dealing with their indigenous population.

    Maya Newell’s latest film, seen online at the Viennese film festival ”This Human World”, exceeds the standards usually set for a film. It is part of an extensive campaign to improve edu­ca­tio­nal oppor­tu­nities for indi­ge­nous Aus­tra­li­ans, which cul­mi­na­ted in a short speech given by the film’s 12-year-old lead, Dujuan, to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    Accom­pa­nied by his father, Dujuan, repor­ted­ly the youngest speaker in the history of the Council, pleaded the Aus­tra­li­an government to put an end to jailing and abusing 10-year-olds and insisted that Abori­gi­nes need their own schools — while valiantly struggling with his reading himself.

    This describes the film’s intention without revealing anything about the film itself. The docu­men­ta­ry feature film depicts everyday school and family life in Alice Springs from the per­spec­ti­ve of Dujuan, exposing the gulf between the values and ideas their state school education and the tra­di­tio­nal Arrernte education (the Arrernte are a tribe of Abori­gi­nes in Central Australia who live in and around Alice Springs). The per­sis­tent assi­mi­la­ti­on policy of the last century is repeated­ly inter­wo­ven, as well as a current abuse scandal in the juvenile detention system. Take note: In Australia, the age of criminal respon­si­bi­li­ty begins at the age of 10, yet 100 % of the children and young people in detention are Aborigines.

    Pro­to­ty­pi­cal for the film and its theme is the scene in which his teacher explains with the help of an illus­tra­ted textbook that the history of Australia began with the discovery of the continent by Captain Cook, thus white­wa­shing the 65,000 years of Abori­gi­nal history. Asto­nis­hing as it seems one momen­ta­ri­ly begins to doubt the credi­bi­li­ty of the docu­men­ta­ry. Dujuan, on the other hand, never loses his composure and comments suc­cinct­ly: “The history we learn in school is for white people”.

    In my opinion, the deeper explo­si­vi­ty of the film lies in the question: To what extent can one com­ple­te­ly alien concept of education find a place in a majority society at all? Against the backdrop of a global hegemony of key com­pe­ten­ci­es, to what extent is there room for an edu­ca­tio­nal con­cep­ti­on that favours com­ple­te­ly different basic skills? National education systems tend to teach homo­ge­nis­ed national or global knowledge, depicting indi­ge­nous cultures as ignorant, primitive or backward (Smith, Tuck & Yang, 2019). In Europe, this fun­da­men­tal problem can probably only be appre­cia­ted to some extent in the case of the Roma and the Sinti (recom­men­ded viewing the docu­men­ta­ry film “The Angry Buddha” by Stefan Ludwig from 2016). The demand for inst­ruc­tion in the language of the minority is an important and obvious aspect that is not over­loo­ked in the film. How any other elements of indi­ge­nous basic education might look like however, remain unexplored.

    For instance, the film shows how he learns to steer a truck through the outback, despite being barely able to see beyond the dashboard. But this cannot be the great anti­the­sis to the dominant edu­ca­tio­nal paradigm.  Although I do under­stand well his exci­te­ment for this formative learning expe­ri­ence, after all my cousin as my ‘driving inst­ruc­tor’ and I were probably not much older when I first tried driving my uncle’s tractor.

    Yet, there is a possible larger dimension implicit in the film. We see at the beginning Dujuan collec­ting bush medicine and at end how he learns to burn the scrubland pur­po­se­ful­ly. In this way, the Abori­gi­nes imitate and support the natural cycle of Aus­tra­li­an nature. In doing so, the film refe­ren­ces millennia-long, non-codi­fia­ble, ignored Abori­gi­nal knowledge that could be used in the fight against Aus­tra­li­a’s incre­a­singly devas­ta­ting wildfires (Bardsley, Prowse and Sieg­friedt, 2019).

    Refe­ren­ces
    https://inmyblooditruns.com/
    World Indi­ge­nous Peoples’ Con­fe­rence on Education (WIPCE), https://wipce.net/
    Smith, L. T., Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2019). Indi­ge­nous and deco­lo­ni­zing studies in education: Mapping the long view. New York: Routledge.
    Bardsley, D. K., Prowse, T. A., & Sieg­friedt, C. (2019). Seeking knowledge of tra­di­tio­nal Indi­ge­nous burning practices to inform regional bushfire manage­ment. Local Envi­ron­ment, 24(8), 727–745.

    Dujuan's speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 

    Maya Newell, In my blood it runs, 2019, Australien, Trailer 

    Dujuan by truck through the outback, In my blood it runs, 2019,, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Dujuan in School, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Dujuan with his mother, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Tags

    Plea for auto­chtho­ne education systems

    Jörg Markowitsch

    'In my blood it runs' (2019) is an intimate portrait of an Aboriginal boy and his family, as well as testimony to the glaring shortcomings of the Australian education system in dealing with their indigenous population.

    Maya Newell’s latest film, seen online at the Viennese film festival ”This Human World”, exceeds the standards usually set for a film. It is part of an extensive campaign to improve edu­ca­tio­nal oppor­tu­nities for indi­ge­nous Aus­tra­li­ans, which cul­mi­na­ted in a short speech given by the film’s 12-year-old lead, Dujuan, to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    Accom­pa­nied by his father, Dujuan, repor­ted­ly the youngest speaker in the history of the Council, pleaded the Aus­tra­li­an government to put an end to jailing and abusing 10-year-olds and insisted that Abori­gi­nes need their own schools — while valiantly struggling with his reading himself.

    This describes the film’s intention without revealing anything about the film itself. The docu­men­ta­ry feature film depicts everyday school and family life in Alice Springs from the per­spec­ti­ve of Dujuan, exposing the gulf between the values and ideas their state school education and the tra­di­tio­nal Arrernte education (the Arrernte are a tribe of Abori­gi­nes in Central Australia who live in and around Alice Springs). The per­sis­tent assi­mi­la­ti­on policy of the last century is repeated­ly inter­wo­ven, as well as a current abuse scandal in the juvenile detention system. Take note: In Australia, the age of criminal respon­si­bi­li­ty begins at the age of 10, yet 100 % of the children and young people in detention are Aborigines.

    Pro­to­ty­pi­cal for the film and its theme is the scene in which his teacher explains with the help of an illus­tra­ted textbook that the history of Australia began with the discovery of the continent by Captain Cook, thus white­wa­shing the 65,000 years of Abori­gi­nal history. Asto­nis­hing as it seems one momen­ta­ri­ly begins to doubt the credi­bi­li­ty of the docu­men­ta­ry. Dujuan, on the other hand, never loses his composure and comments suc­cinct­ly: “The history we learn in school is for white people”.

    In my opinion, the deeper explo­si­vi­ty of the film lies in the question: To what extent can one com­ple­te­ly alien concept of education find a place in a majority society at all? Against the backdrop of a global hegemony of key com­pe­ten­ci­es, to what extent is there room for an edu­ca­tio­nal con­cep­ti­on that favours com­ple­te­ly different basic skills? National education systems tend to teach homo­ge­nis­ed national or global knowledge, depicting indi­ge­nous cultures as ignorant, primitive or backward (Smith, Tuck & Yang, 2019). In Europe, this fun­da­men­tal problem can probably only be appre­cia­ted to some extent in the case of the Roma and the Sinti (recom­men­ded viewing the docu­men­ta­ry film “The Angry Buddha” by Stefan Ludwig from 2016). The demand for inst­ruc­tion in the language of the minority is an important and obvious aspect that is not over­loo­ked in the film. How any other elements of indi­ge­nous basic education might look like however, remain unexplored.

    For instance, the film shows how he learns to steer a truck through the outback, despite being barely able to see beyond the dashboard. But this cannot be the great anti­the­sis to the dominant edu­ca­tio­nal paradigm.  Although I do under­stand well his exci­te­ment for this formative learning expe­ri­ence, after all my cousin as my ‘driving inst­ruc­tor’ and I were probably not much older when I first tried driving my uncle’s tractor.

    Yet, there is a possible larger dimension implicit in the film. We see at the beginning Dujuan collec­ting bush medicine and at end how he learns to burn the scrubland pur­po­se­ful­ly. In this way, the Abori­gi­nes imitate and support the natural cycle of Aus­tra­li­an nature. In doing so, the film refe­ren­ces millennia-long, non-codi­fia­ble, ignored Abori­gi­nal knowledge that could be used in the fight against Aus­tra­li­a’s incre­a­singly devas­ta­ting wildfires (Bardsley, Prowse and Sieg­friedt, 2019).

    Refe­ren­ces
    https://inmyblooditruns.com/
    World Indi­ge­nous Peoples’ Con­fe­rence on Education (WIPCE), https://wipce.net/
    Smith, L. T., Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2019). Indi­ge­nous and deco­lo­ni­zing studies in education: Mapping the long view. New York: Routledge.
    Bardsley, D. K., Prowse, T. A., & Sieg­friedt, C. (2019). Seeking knowledge of tra­di­tio­nal Indi­ge­nous burning practices to inform regional bushfire manage­ment. Local Envi­ron­ment, 24(8), 727–745.

    Dujuan's speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

    Maya Newell, In my blood it runs, 2019, Australien, Trailer

    Dujuan by truck through the outback, In my blood it runs, 2019,, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Dujuan in School, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Dujuan with his mother, In my blood it runs, 2019, Filmstill

    Tags


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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.