A new reality in Indigenous education

In the September Issue of the Stronger Smarter Newsletter, Changing the Tide, we showcased some Stronger Smarter schools in WA. These schools have embraced the Stronger Smarter philosophy and are making it their own by shaping it to suit their circumstances. Other schools have done similar and are getting positive outcomes. One such school in Queensland is Tullawong State High School in Caboolture. Their story of “Ripples into waves” shows that the ripples have affected not only the school but the community as well. You can read their story here.

The Hunter Central Coast of NSW has been very active and among the most successful in sustaining transformation. They are still faced with challenges as most schools are, but they are actively in pursuit of solutions and embracing Aboriginal communities in the process. You can read about their “work in progress” here.

Here at the Institute we are not claiming that schools become transformed after doing the stronger smarter thing with us although sometimes this is the case. At other times it is more about confirming and reinforcing the ‘high expectations’ school cultures that such leaders have already established. It is crucial for us to work with these types of leaders so we can support them by connecting them to other school and community leaders.

Why is connecting them important? Because we want to create and strengthen a critical mass of stronger smarter schools and communities and drive home the point that this is what ‘normal’ should look like in Indigenous education.

For too long, too many of us have just accepted that it is too hard to get positive outcomes for our children, and that our failure is somehow justifiable. This is an approach that has conspired with failure and enables dysfunction to flourish.

Tragically this dysfunction emerges as ‘normal’ in Indigenous education. Even more tragic is that somehow Indigenous communities get blamed for it. The stories I have highlighted above clearly signal that if we actively reject such deficit thinking about Indigenous students, then we get positive change. Sometimes it is really hard work. Sometimes it happens so easily.

Put simply, when schools and communities can work together to nurture and embrace a positive sense of cultural identity, acknowledge and embrace community leadership, and develop and maintain a high expectations agenda with high expectations relationships; failure, deficit thinking and dysfunction is abolished; and a new and more positive reality emerges.

Please join us on our journey to unveil a new, more positive, stronger smarter reality in Indigenous education.

If you have a school transformation story to tell, I’d love to hear about it.

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