THOSE who enrol in Australia’s first and only Master of Indigenous Education course at Macquarie University in Sydney can expect to have two things upon graduating.
Firstly, they will receive a comprehensive understanding of historical and contemporary issues that affect Indigenous education, both within Australia and abroad. They can also expect a unique toolbox of practical skills and teaching strategies that will assist them in the classroom.
Michelle Trudgett, course convenor and head of Macquarie’s Warawara Indigenous studies, says the course essentially aims to assist in closing the gap.
First introduced in 2012, the course is offered completely online and covers a range of subjects including four core units: History of Indigenous Education, Contemporary Indigenous Education, Global Indigenous Education as well as a politics unit.
“We look back to education precolonisation. We make the argument that Indigenous people have our own ways of educating … it’s not something that’s contemporary for us,” Trudgett tells Oz Teacher.
Students in the course learn not only the practical skills that they can use in their workplace, but also skills they can take out of the classroom and use in a broader setting.
“We speak a lot about how to effectively engage with the wider community, Indigenous organisations, the families, the elders and so on. That’s a really important part of what we speak about,” Trudgett explains.
“I’m constantly hearing back from my students all the time, they’re giving me feedback like ‘now I understand x, y or z’, or ‘I put that into practice in my classroom’ and ‘I can’t believe the result’.”
With about 70 students expected to be undertaking the degree this year, Trudgett is confident that its popularity is only going to grow.
“The students are happy, the enrolments are very strong, particularly as we’re just about to go into the third year of the degree,” she says.
The Master of Indigenous Education is available on a part or full-time basis, which enables maximum flexibility for working teachers.