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Glenn Yates

Glenn Yates
Teacher
What was your personal motivation behind participating in this project?

My grandmother was born on Thursday Island, which makes me a Torres Strait Islander by descent. I was thrilled to be asked by our District Consultant to be involved with our local area team, as I thought this was a really important project to be involved with.

How did you go about making links with your local Aboriginal community?

I am a member of our school's ASSPA [Aboriginal Student and Parent Awareness] committee, which means I already had sound contacts with our local community. Unfortunately, most of our parents are from outside areas. There is only one original family remaining in our part of the Central Coast, so there was no real input of local expertise for our local school.

How has your view or perspective changed on the impact of Aboriginal beliefs and culture on scientific understanding?

I think that I've got a greater respect for the knowledge held by the Aboriginals. It was easy to design lessons around specific aspects of the Aboriginal perspective, which fitted into our program structure, as there was obviously a deep understanding of these areas of scientific endeavour which were important to their survival. It's worth noting that this depth of knowledge could be stored and shared without the aid of the written word. Perhaps the most important lesson is that there is more than one way to explain what we see around us.

What strategies would you use in developing further teaching units to address Aboriginal perspectives in Science?

I think we need to build stronger ties with our ASSPA [Aboriginal Student and Parent Awareness] committee members and try to draw more from their knowledge and heritage. The knowledge gained from one half-day field trip with John Oates, our district Aboriginal consultant, for example, was tremendous. This is not as easy as it might sound as often our parents are removed from their cultural heritage. I would also like to ensure that we're properly addressing the units that we've already been incorporating into our programs.

What barriers did you encounter in trying to undertake this project?

To be honest, the only barriers were those created by myself. Essentially being a little bit scared or apprehensive about how far I should press the point without stepping on too many toes and what I could produce professionally within the time frame given. Then, there was knowing where to start and how far to take the project. I found that keeping it simple and appropriate for me and for my school situation seemed to work best. Good support was provided by my team leaders, Jeanette and then David and that helped greatly.

Where to from here? What will you do in future to plan for and implement Aboriginal perspectives content into your Years 7-10 science teaching-learning program?
Obviously, we need to keep searching for more support material to underpin the steps which we've already taken. We need to further develop the links with our parent body and tap into any expertise which is available. Overall, I'm pleased with our work to date. It complements our programs and is seen as integral rather than being an 'add on'. Students and staff treat it seriously. The 'hands on' research nature of the units is dictated by the local situation and is appropriate for us at this stage. If or, in fact, as our local community changes, I hope to be able to incorporate greater use of guest speakers to provide greater first-hand experience.
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