Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Educating Indigenous people for jobs: Marcia Langton

Indigenous activist and academic Marcia Langton is one of the more interesting commentators on the challenges of Indigenous policy-making in this country, not least because she refuses to accept the standard party line on issues such as the Northern Territory Intervention.

And today's Sydney Morning Herald has an interview with her that is well worth reading.

The job problem

One of the key challenges in Australia, is the huge unemployment rate amongst Aboriginal Australians, and the continuing lack of success of programs intended to address this.

Professor Langton makes some very interesting observations on the underlying cultural issues:

''So why aren't Aboriginal people stepping up to the plate and taking those jobs? Because they are under-educated, they are not work-ready, they have to undergo training. They find it humiliating and they don't understand that everybody else just kept going to school and got themselves trained to do something.

''They don't understand that everybody else has to do that as well, because they are so accustomed to the whole problem of discrimination that they think everything is discrimination. They don't realise that there are some things that aren't discriminatory but are just the necessary parts of living in modernity.''

Langton is highly critical of teachers who treat Aboriginal children differently to other students in the belief that they learn differently and that curriculums ought to be modified to make the lessons culturally sensitive. ''That is just a bunch of racist codswallop. It's lala land. What we do know is that the traditional methods of teaching literacy involve discipline, constant attendance, learning element by element and putting together the system of literacy, the sounds and associations between the symbol and the sound. And all those things have to be built up consistently and according to a curriculum, brick by brick, in a classroom".

Complicit in their own oppression?

Professor Langton argues that it is too easy for Aboriginals to become complicit in their own oppression, constantly seeing themselves as victims, rather than seizing opportunities and acting.

She has given an extended interview on youtube that discusses the proposed amendments to the Constitution to better recognise Indigenous Australians.  Well worth reading.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if she's related to Stephen Langton.

+ Wolsey

Antonia Romanesca said...

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