Immersion programs relocate individuals into an unfamiliar environment for a period of time for the purpose of providing meaningful learning opportunities. For maximum effect, the individual must be receptive to the social, cultural and/or political circumstances into which they have been placed.
With respect to Aboriginal education, students have been relocated from their home environment and immersed in boarding schools for over three decades. Detractors of this practice argue that only a very small percentage of Aboriginal students benefit and that the best and brightest students are moved from remote and regional communities.
Immersion programs providing non-Aboriginal students the opportunity to live in the home environment of the Aboriginal students are relatively new. Current practice is primarily aimed at providing the non-Aboriginal student with an understanding of Aboriginal culture and the issues that Aboriginal students and families face, particularly in remote locations. Well constructed programs of this nature offer an insight into the Aboriginal community and the importance of:-
‘2 Way Learning’ offers immersion programs in which all the above aspects are observed, emphasised and discussed.
The most distinguishing feature of ‘2 Way Learning’ is that it connects Aboriginal people with non-Aboriginal people to learn with and from each other. ‘2 Way Learning’ is not about doing things for or to the Aboriginal peoples, it is about doing things with them.
‘2 Way Learning’ and Literacy Programs
A key feature of ‘2 Way Learning’ is the teaching of literacy skills to deliver learning experiences for non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal students.
The specialised student program involves two stages:
The learning benefits extend both ways with the enhancement of literacy skills for all students. Teaching and learning together strengthens the relationships between students, builds trust and encourages the Aboriginal students to reciprocate through the teaching of ‘First Language’ and divulging more about their identity.
The Outbound Program relocates 15-16 year old students from schools in rural and urban Australia to a remote location in the Northern Territory. Within this program there are two experiences based on the length of time of the immersion. Both experiences are predicated on two goals.
The Inbound Program relocates Aboriginal students from urban or rural NSW schools into an environment in which they will receive intensive literacy training through experiential learning experiences. The program is aimed at Middle Years students between Years 5 – 8. The program will be based in the Sydney CBD.