TRANSCRIPT: DeakinDesign Principle: Relational
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Dr Jessamy Gleeson: Sure, my name’s Jessamy Gleeson and I’m a senior lecturer in Indigenous studies at NIKERI Institute and I’m also one of our Associate Directors in Teaching and Learning there.
It’s how that principle of relational is applicable for us as a really interesting one, because it’s already very much embedded in what we do and how we teach and that by that I mean Indigenous studies is, by its very nature relational. We try to be grounded in our country and our space and our located in this simply because of what we’re talking about we and that goes right from the start, where we ask students to consider things like what country they’re on and even if it’s online we ask them to do a bit of an understanding or look around, where they are and what country they’re located on simply to get them located in both the classroom and in their position within the University and more broadly and each other as well, so to understand how and where they build relationships with us as teachers, but also with each other, as fellow students to see physically speaking, even though they’re online where and how they might be close to other students and also where and how that that relates to us as some staff members. The reason for that is simply because that underpinning of country is so key to our teaching that we need them to get that into their heads, very much right from the start, and so we do that through asking that question.
For me personally, I use it to explore for on my own stories and to listen to my own experiences of everything from where and how country is important to me through to how and where I can demonstrate my connections to my community and, more broadly, for NIKERI as well, so I try and pull myself into my teaching where I can, because one of the other important things about teaching Indigenous studies, particularly someone who’s First Nations, is that it’s it’s an impossible thing to ask us to be objective and we don’t we don’t fight that in a lot of ways, with their explicitly teaching stuff that can be very explicit in outlining things like the impact of colonisation so to have that relationality to open yourself up to students in some way or to say, this is a part of my story, it doesn’t it doesn’t have to be present but for many of us, and, for me it is present it’s it’s a thread that we follow to get students to understand the implications of what they’re studying that they’re not expected to and we don’t want them to be removed, that we want them to be reflective and reflexive and to consider their position in the classroom and beyond it, because the call of Indigenous studies is to carry what they’ve learned on outside of the university and so they need to start reflecting on where they are beyond uni now.
Not every student will agree with everything that we’re doing and not every student will understand in the way that we want them to. And that’s that’s also OK, because that’s reflective of wider society that not everyone gets their head around things like the impact of colonisation or the importance of country or songlines, so there are varying levels of experiences that we deal with and again we have to then tackle that ourselves that idea of from where and how a student might write, something that we don’t agree with all that hasn’t been our experience, too, and that we have to make it clear how and where we can put them in the right direction to look for further resources or to again reflect on their position in doing so, so relationality is something that we use to teach and has always been something that we use to teach with our own stories, but we have to practice what we are outlining to students as well and understand that they have different stories too.
One of the major outcomes of our Indigenous studies minor and all of our Indigenous units is that we work to strengthen positive reconciliation efforts and that that fostering belonging and that idea of strengthening reconciliation efforts is something that can’t just be done by us at NIKERI by First Nations staff or students, it takes everyone belonging and working together, both within the units and, beyond that, when they graduate and go out into the wider world, is that that what we’re giving them is something that we’re hoping, they can take, learn and then build that sense of belonging, for everyone in the future too.
We asked them that question about what country you’re located on at the start of every unit and the reason that we do, that is because it’s the same reason that we set a reflective assessment task at the end of every unit, because we expect them to layer that understanding in that relationship with each other with themselves and with Indigenous studies and knowledge as as a whole the more units they take so their answers about what country they belong on will ideally actually become more complex and now locate and ground themselves further the more units that they actually take so in the first unit they might just even say Melbourne they might not say, you know I’m Wujundjeri country or I’m located on Naarm but they you know, the second unit around they might do more, they might make that extra effort by the third unit they might also be saying well it’s a freshwater or salt water country or you know this, I exist on a land of borders or trade or wherever else so that’s that idea of relationality locatedness and space is supposed to grow and expand the more units that they take to.
It’s been really interesting because I’ve been lucky enough to teach a few of the different units now and I’ve taught right from the first introductory unit, right up to the final unit that I’m teaching at the moment and the way that students have grown and been able to draw on the different resources that we’ve given them has really been what I’ve hoped for, which has been a real joy. To say and the way that they’ve been able to link it back to what they want before has been really rewarding for me to be able to see what they’ve pulled out from other units and have it informed what they’re talking about in this final unit of study so that’s that’s been brilliant but the biggest thing that I’ve really enjoyed is seeing their reflections because it’s a very difficult task to set a reflective assignment and ask students to consider where they’re located, what their practices, what their perspectives are and we do it each unit, but to see them get better and better at it and to have the final assessment task ask them to consider everything they’ve written for the other units and to pull that together into one big pace is a huge ask, but to see how they tackle that and consider that even by the end of the first or second unit they’re still not at the place that they are now and that just because they’ve done for unit sort of and now they’ve still got more the guys when they graduate and beyond, has been fantastic so we’re really ideally setting themselves a setting them up for further learning and ideally setting them up for further learning, but also to continue to grow those understandings of relationality and of space in place.
Start considering how and where students can relate to each other and to you and how and where you can place yourself your stories and your experiences and learning yourself within your unit if that’s something you’re comfortable with.