A Fresh Look at Teaching Aboriginal Culture & Art


It was exciting this week to see the Amercian teacher website, The Art of Education, publish an insightful piece about Aboriginal art.

In her article, Aboriginal Art: Revisited, Researched, and Revamped!, writer Lindsey Moss makes the observation that visual art teachers in North America are interested in the area of Aboriginal art. She challenges her colleagues to go beyond the stereotypes that they may be presenting. This is especially relevant to over-simplified information that can be presented to younger students about Aboriginal culture. The article is encouraging teachers to go beyond this basic level of information.

Lindsey Moss emphasises the longevity and heritage of Aboriginal culture on the Australian continent. She encourages teachers to get to know more about the breadth of Aboriginal culture. She asks them to investigate further through websites and deeper resources. The writer highlights Aboriginal songlines and issues of place and connectedness as being important concepts to understand in relation to Aboriginal art.

The article sets out fifteen different points that teachers could explore with Aboriginal art. These include areas of music, location and the history of Aboriginal people in this country.

The article presents Aboriginal art as a possible catalyst or a point of contact for young people. This is for people located outside Australia, not just for people outside of Aboriginal society in Australia. It is impressive to see the writer getting to know more of the culture and taking the time to research it. She looks at the practice of Indigenous artists and their work as a way to understand more about the culture.

The breaking down of stereotypes is also a process that is happening very slowly in Australia, starting in the 1980's and 1990's. This was around the same time that knowledge of Aboriginal art and culture was gaining traction in the international world.

I feel that it's a real breakthrough point for educators in America to produce an article like this. I think Australia has a different kind of struggle. Aboriginal culture is integral to this country, but it also has many political and social policy overlays that make it challenging for Australian teachers to implement knowledge about Aboriginal art and culture into the Australian curriculum.

Aboriginal Art: Revisited, Researched, and Revamped! is a great example of American teachers being proactive in this area. This piece is a short introduction but it communicates some vital points about how the study of Aboriginal art could be more effective and  more probing. Such an approach is a better way of connecting to values that Aboriginal culture has carried for millennia.

It was our pleasure to assist Lindsey Moss with her research for this article. We feel she has made an internationally significant contribution to the discussion of how best to approach Aboriginal art in the classroom. We congratulate her.