USC’s preservice teachers gain lessons on culture | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC’s preservice teachers gain lessons on culture

An innovative project involving USC Education students gaining wider field experience in the Indigenous community of Cherbourg during 2014 has been hailed a success.

Six students were involved in an ‘Embracing Culture: Enhancing Literacy Development’ project, led by Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Drabble, that has helped prepare them to work with Indigenous students.

“The aim of the project is to support the Cherbourg students’ literacy development and provide USC’s Education students with an understanding of cultural communities and their needs,” Dr Drabble said.

“I am extremely proud of what the students have achieved and they are now confident about effectively transitioning from preservice to graduate teacher when they seek employment in rural communities.”

Student Nathan Zahra said the program helped him develop important teaching skills.

“I gained invaluable experience building genuine relationships with the students, staff and community of Cherbourg,” he said. “On a regular basis we would stay overnight and then teach different groups of students the next day.

“I now have the confidence and ability to work with Indigenous students and a big part of teaching in this environment is the skill to understand the cultural sensitivities of the community.”

Cherbourg students enhanced their literacy using iPads to create stories, take photos and make audio recordings. Excursions in the local community and to the Sunshine Coast also expanded their knowledge and cultural literacies.

The USC students recently presented a report about the project to the joint Australian Association for Research in Education and New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference in Brisbane.

The project at Cherbourg received funding from the Commonwealth Government Higher Education Participation Partnerships Program.

The students involved had initially participated in a ‘Coast to Country’ experience offered by USC to give its preservice teachers school experiences in a number of regional locations. This five-day bus trip is funded each year by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

Pictured, from left, are USC Education students Louise Lyndon, Nathan Zahra, Maddison Wilkins and Sarah Middleton.

— Kristy Wright

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