Home-Schooling Pre-Colonial Style


There are many people around NSW who are in lockdown or in quarantine because they or their children have been to a COVID-19 exposure site.

Schools have rallied during this time, sending home learning packs and holding classes on-line. While this is fantastic because it minimises disruption to the curriculum, there are still times in the day where parents are scratching their heads about what to do to keep children motivated, learning, and less prone to boredom and loneliness.

There are multiple studies that show there is much to learn from traditional, pre-colonial teaching methods. Indigenous communities educated their children through oral narratives and rites of passage. These oral narratives include elements like family histories, myths, legends, and songs. Since the “school” was the home and community, the “teachers” were the parents and extended relations particularly the elders in the community. Boys and girls were schooled about the traditional roles they were to take up in society, such as boys would go hunting, and girls would learn about food preparation, for example.

So how does this help us with our current situation? We suggest reaching out to the elders in your family. Schedule regular teleconferences with your elders and ask them to relate stories of when they were small to your children. Ask them to relate where they lived, what their parents did for a living, where did they go to school, what were their favourite subjects at school, what sort of games did they play, what sort of food did they eat, who were their friends? Secondly, we acknowledge that gender roles in Australia are different than they were in pre-colonial times, but all children love to learn how to cook, so have a daily cooking lesson. Talk about the food you are preparing, what part of an animal or vegetable or tree did the food come from? Allow your children to learn how to accurately measure ingredients and talk about the science behind why cake mixture rises in the oven. Involve your children in cleaning and instruct them about the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. If there are any home maintenance jobs you’ve been putting off, now is the time – if you have the tools and equipment on hand – to set to and attend to them with your children’s assistance. Talk to them about how technology has changed in your lifetime and what’s so good about technology today.

There’s been a saying around for a long time that “it takes a village to raise a child”. This is time to reach out to your village. Trust us, it will be of great benefit to you, your children, and your extended family.

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