Posted July 2021

By Myra Andrews

Coming from an Aboriginal family I grew up valuing respect and connection amongst our family. I have a great connection with my nan and pop who are incredibly encouraging and proud of my career path today.

They can see the pride I take in my identity when addressing education and how I value my new learning and specifically the impact of cultural education in the early years.

Growing up my nan (Joan) would come to my school and hold workshops for the six Aboriginal students that attended. Looking back now I remember feeling lucky to be Aboriginal because that meant your nan could come to your school, and in my eyes, I did not realise that my connection to my culture and my history was not something that many Aboriginal children had. Many children did not know who they were and/or did not acknowledge their identity or tell other students. That small moment every couple of months when my nan would come to our school made me realise the connection between Aboriginal community is something like no other.

I experienced the same connection unravel in high school when one Aboriginal teacher created a cultural day and almost immediately all of the Aboriginal students were talking to each other like we had known each other our whole lives. Some of these students may never had crossed paths with one another, but despite everything we did, we were all comfortable with the fact that we were brought together because of our culture, and in that moment we all could see that this was something to be proud of.

I was surprised at how prominently Aboriginal cultures feature in early childhood education. I am hopeful when educators listen and learn, if they respectfully consult with local peoples and engage them in the sharing of their knowledges, educators can facilitate opportunities for children to experience cultures from a young age. Completing the Deadly Teachers: Solid Jarjums course alongside the KU Ourimbah team gave me a sense of belonging in the workplace as it allowed us to learn together and increased the scope and awareness of Aboriginal cultures.

Building my career in a culturally safe environment not only supports my growth as an educator, but it enables everyone in early childhood to learn about our rich cultures. It intrigues me to imagine what the children growing up in a culturally safe environment might bring to the future.