Lessons on culture and language
03 November 2022
Public school life
Western Australia’s longest serving Aboriginal academic presented to education staff about Aboriginal education in the state.Professor Simon Forrest spoke at the Department of Education’s Statewide Services, sharing his experience and knowledge as an educator.
Professor Forrest was born and raised in Wadjuk country (Perth), and has connections to country at Goomalling (Balardong), Swan Valley (Wadjuk), Mt Magnet (Badimaya) and Leonora (Wongutha).
Having previously trained as a primary school teacher, Professor Forrest has worked in schools in Aboriginal communities and rural towns.
He has also held senior managerial positions in education and curriculum, and Indigenous affairs policy and implementation.
Professor Forrest shared his teaching stories and spoke about the future of Aboriginal education in Western Australia, teaching Aboriginal language in schools and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“Us older Noongar educators could only dream about Noongar language being taught in schools back in the 1980s,” he said.
Four of Professor Forrest’s former students joined him to share their experiences about an on-Country learning opportunity, as he said students were at the core of everything educators did.
“We as educators are essentially passing on knowledge and information to others as learners,” Professor Forrest said.
“We trust that what we say and how we say it, what we do and the activities, and the way we pass on that information, we all hope that the leaners retain that information, and they find it useful for them in the present and the future.”
Professor Forrest was also joined by Wellard Primary School Noongar language teacher Dylan Collard who gave a presentation about the importance of teaching and preserving Aboriginal languages.
Mr Collard spoke about his passion for sharing his culture and ensuring the language, which has been spoken on this land for more than 60,000 years, continues to be spoken in the future.
“I love my job and I get to teach our language and have a small role in the revitalisation of it,” he said.
“One day I hope Aboriginal language is taught at every school. Whatever Aboriginal land that school is on, that local Aboriginal language can be taught.
“To be able to teach this language is not something I take lightly.”