Although learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures is now mandated in all subject areas across the Victorian Curriculum, many teachers are still not engaging with this content or doing so in a tokenistic manner. Understanding why is key to ensuring that teaching Indigenous histories and cultures positively affects all students.
In this small scale graduate research project, I surveyed practising Victorian secondary school teachers (N = 63) to better understand their perceptions and needs in relation to teaching this cross-curriculum priority. I collected both quantitative and qualitative data via an online survey and analysed these data for relationships and themes.
Most participants agreed that teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures was important. However, there were significant differences between teachers from different subject areas regarding how and why that content should be taught. These differences corresponded with the varying emphasis on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures contained in the respective curriculum documents for each subject.
The results indicate that curriculum requirements have a significant influence on teachers’ perspectives and practices. I suggest that further curriculum revisions and greater teacher support are needed to meaningfully, relevantly and respectfully embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures across all subject areas.