Decolonizing classrooms may assist in keeping first-generation students in school and away from law

Despite making up only approximately 6% of the country's total juvenile population, First Nations youth make up 50% of young people in detention in Australia on average.



The recent decision to transfer juvenile criminals to a maximum-security adult jail in Western Australia demonstrates the problem facing the juvenile justice system. Even though they were conducted about three decades apart, the Don Dale Royal Commission's conclusions and the historic Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were eerily similar. The lack of training and accountability for prison employees, as well as the recognition that policing reform and sufficient community participation was necessary, were key commonalities.


Both of these commissions demanded extensive changes in a variety of fields, including Australian policing and education. But many of these suggestions are still being ignored. Today, as we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day, we will give special consideration to the First Nations youngsters detained in prison and their families. However, we also need to consider the institutions, structures, and processes that led to these crises, as well as what could have been done to stop them and what can be done to make sure they never occur again.


We are aware that the risk that any young offender, regardless of ethnicity, will return to prison after being released from detention is very high. Up to 80% of young people in some situations go back to prison. Despite making up only approximately 6% of the country's total juvenile population, First Nations youth make up 50% of the young people in detention in Australia on average.


Many kids' first encounters with conflict and marginalization in response to authority might occur in the classroom. We also know that youngsters are less likely to interact with the legal system as minors or adults the longer they are enrolled in formal education. So what can educational institutions and educators do to increase First Nations students' retention and engagement? Classroom decolonization Schools and instructors need to have the abilities and confidence to start the decolonization process in their classrooms to address the issue of First Nations youth incarceration. Incorporate First Nations contexts into all facets of teaching and learning, this calls on teachers and institutions to adapt the way they operate.


First Nations student retention and year 12 certificate completion, which were goals of the Closing the Gap initiative, have recently improved. However, with absenteeism from school a regular measure embedded into Indigenous education standards, too much of the focus on student retention has been placed on the students and their families. The colonized educational environments that young kids must endure have received very little attention.


2. The curriculum's content has been dominated by a Eurocentric emphasis on Australia's recent history and western traditions of liberal democracy and Judeo-Christian values for generations of teachers and pupils. The Great Australian Silence is a phenomenon that has resulted from the exclusion of information on First Nations cultures. Although there has been some progress, purposeful erasing of First Nations histories continues to be prevalent in schools today. 3. Education Our children are educated about the oldest continuously existing cultures in the world from an early age by their families, communities, and nations. Therefore, it makes sense that we have the most traditional, ideal teaching techniques in existence.


4. Location and area In their classrooms, our kids need to recognize themselves. This includes flags, acknowledgment plaques, artwork, literature in libraries, and other means of increasing the visibility of First Nations surroundings. Additionally, they must be in settings that are appropriate for the task at hand, particularly when using First Nations teaching strategies like yarning and on-Country learning. This can entail giving students access to outdoor areas where they can interact with the country and mobile furniture in the classrooms. 5. Community participation Even though we would prefer it if every First Nations student had a First Nations teacher, it isn't always feasible. Our Elders are the ones that possess a large portion of our knowledge. Our pupils need them to be present and noticeable in our classrooms as well.


If these factors are changed, kids will no longer avoid class, and as they stay in school longer, they will be less likely to interact with the legal system. We are aware that there is no one solution to this complicated issue, and any initiatives in this direction must be accompanied by measures to reduce over-policing and stop the unfair targeting of children. However, non-Indigenous educators must play a part in decolonizing their classrooms lest we subject yet another generation of our children to the cruelty and never-ending cycle of adolescent detention.


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