Froebelian Play and Aboriginal Knowledges 

Murdoch University, Western Australia

This project will support the Trust’s objective to provide evidence of ways that pedagogical practice that follows Froebelian principles can be developed and supported in Indigenous early years settings. We will investigate intergenerational pedagogical approaches that have the potential to transform early years’ education in Indigenous contexts. We will examine approaches to learning for Indigenous children when Elders take a role as pedagogues in early years’ settings.  


Internationally, Indigenous Peoples are reclaiming Indigenous ways of knowing and being in education and community contexts (Battiste, 2011). We support this effort “to establish and control their educational systems… providing education in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning” (United Nations, 2007). We want to explore how this reclaiming connects with Froebelian principles today in Indigenous early years settings in Australia. 


Indigenous education has been colonised by Western notions of learning and instruction. Research is required to support Indigenous children to be educated in a way that connects them to “self, others and the universe” (Bruce, 2012, p. 26). Elders, who are custodians of the stories of human relationships with the Land, Sky and Water, have responsibility for sharing these stories with younger generations. Intergenerational, culturally responsive pedagogies have a significant role to play in supporting Indigenous children’s understandings, wellbeing and creativity. Supporting early years’ settings to prioritise these outcomes will serve to mitigate global disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples (Anderson et.al. 2016). 

 

This project will support educators knowledge of Froebelian principles through professional learning and also document Elders and children engaging in learning together in the early years and the impact of this experience on children’s wellbeing and creativity. We will also investigate school-based educator’s work, alongside Elders and children to transform their own pedagogical practices and a series of online learning modules for practitioners.  

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