THE State’s longest serving Indigenous academic has been teaching students outside of the traditional four walls of a classroom since the 1980s.
Curtin University Elder in Residence Simon Forrest said one of the highlights of his teaching career was his first appointment at a remote Aboriginal community school on the edge of the Great Victorian desert.
“I was this young fella brought up in the city, and then I go out to a remote community where I’m exposed to culture and ceremonies and a whole range of things that I never would have been exposed to living in the city,” Professor Forrest said.
“Many times I would take all my kids, get in the car, and head down the bush and I teach in the bush.”
Prof Forrest said teaching on country has become his whole philosophy and way of teaching.
“What I do now is the same thing and I don’t teach Aboriginal studies in the classroom, I don’t lecture in the classroom,” he said.
“What we do is go on country, take students in the bush for a week and teach them down there and that becomes their unit of study for the semester.”
Prof Forrest was named Naidoc Perth Male Elder of the Year 2018 for his commitment to the education of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across WA.
He said he didn’t think about the significance of teaching on country in his younger days but now knew this was the space he wanted to work in.
“It’s taken me a while to get here and to think about it that I know that this is the way things have got to be done,” he said.