Art brings educators closer

21 MARCH 2011

Indigenous art has celebrated a strong bond between early childhood educators, educational providers and communities during a recent Forum held in regional NSW.

Painting by Darren CooperIndigenous art has celebrated a strong bond between early childhood educators, educational providers and communities during a recent Forum held in regional NSW.
Held at Parkes and Griffith over four days, the Forum was part of the ongoing Early Childhood Education Workforce Capacity Project (ECEWCP), a collaborative research partnership including Charles Sturt University (CSU), TAFE Western (WIT), Riverina Institute of TAFE (RIT), and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE).  
Co-developer Dr Alison Lord, from the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University (CSU) said the passionate work of Indigenous artist, Mr Darren Cooper reflected the enthusiasm there is for early childhood education in regional and remote Australia.
“The ECEWCP supports early childhood education students through community volunteered mentorship and regular interaction with other future educators in regional and remote Australia,” Dr Lord said. “Darren Cooper’s panoramic series of 14 individual paintings, when viewed together, depict Wiradjuri people on and in Wiradjuri Land,” she said. “Charles Sturt University has five of its campuses in Wiradjuri country so we feel a strong connection with this artwork.”  
Mr Cooper stated the concept showed that the spirit of Wiradjuri people is present on the land today and that connection to country can be taken with you whether in the city, town or close to the bush. The panorama depicts pre-dawn, crosses morning, afternoon, and then ends with evening at pre-darkness just after sunset.
The individual panels by the accomplished Wiradjuri Artist from West Wylong were presented to keynote speakers and session presenters of the Early Childhood Education Workforce Capacity Project Community Professional Development Forum held at the Western Institute of TAFE in Parkes on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 March 2011.
“This is just one example of forming and continuing the professional bonds and learning networks established at the Forum,” said Dr Lord.
In line with the major Forum themes of Rights of the Child and Wellness and Wellbeing, Wiradjuri Elder Ricky Powell presented sessions on combined Western and Aboriginal culturally recognised learning styles which when applied acknowledge origins and create positive results, and Wiradjuri Elder Auntie Pat Doolan, Chairperson AECG, presented a session on the Aboriginal concept of Kinship and how that concept impacts health, government, employment services and educational providers when engaging with Aboriginal communities.
“The Forum is in line with our policy about working together, working with Aboriginal communities and creating awareness,” Mrs Doolan said. “It’s vital that teachers feel comfortable broaching this area of working with Indigenous people to capitalize on children’s early cultural learning. We want to give teachers the skills to find alternative teaching styles that encourage children to explore and branch out from their prior learning in the home environment to school.”

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Dubbo Charles Sturt University Teaching and Education Indigenous