Issue 4 - 8 May 2012 enews home

Indigenous knowledge has authentic place in higher education system

By Patrick Nelson

Adam Bourke

Dr Payi Linda Ford … uniquely placed to comment on Indigenous knowledge systems

The Northern Institute's Dr Payi Linda Ford has drawn from traditional knowledge and the wisdom of the Tyikim Elders to propose an alternative model for Indigenous higher education.

Dr Ford outlined her ideas in the book "Aboriginal Knowledge Narratives and Country: Marri Kunkimba Putj Putj Marrideyan", launched by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership, Professor Steve Larkin in Darwin recently.

"The book is based on a participatory action research project that I undertook with the Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu people (of the Finniss River region, southwest of Darwin) that allowed me to examine the metaphors and stories of their spirituality that underpin their knowledge systems," she said.

As a mother, academic, researcher, educator and an Elder of the Mak Mak Marranunggu people, Dr Ford is uniquely placed to comment on Indigenous knowledge systems and the benefit they hold for all Australians.

Dr Ford addresses a series of teaching and learning principles in her model, including narrative as pedagogy, relationality as pedagogy, discursiveness as pedagogy, political integrity as pedagogy, indigenist research as pedagogy and a holistic approach to Indigenous higher education.

She said Australian universities needed to move beyond the colonising constructions of Indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems in education, research and access to higher education for Indigenous students.

"There is an authentic place for Indigenous Knowledge in Australia's Higher Education system and that the Mirrwana/Wurrkama model of Indigenous higher education provides Aboriginal people with a firm foundation for bringing forth their own knowledge systems to serve their own educational interests."

Aboriginal Knowledge Narratives & Country: Marri Kunkimba Putj Putj Marrideyan by Payi Linda Ford was published by Post Pressed, Queensland. ISBN 978-1921214-71-4, RRP: AUD $65.00 + p&p.