One of Australia’s leading educators was yesterday recognised for his ground-breaking work in integrating Yolngu culture and practices into tertiary teaching.
Associate Professor Michael Christie of Charles Darwin University’s School of Education, was awarded the 2008 prestigious Senior Australian Teaching and Learning Fellowship, valued at $300,000 at an awards seminar at CDU’s Casuarina campus.
The program planned by Dr Christie, entitled “Teaching from Country”, is a reversal of the conventional distance learning set-up.
“The project plans to have students on campus and Aboriginal knowledge workers on country in their remote communities, teaching languages and culture, including Indigenous art,” Dr Christie said.
“The project will integrate and extend three ongoing collaborative research programs which have worked on the use of digital technology for traditional knowledge work, supporting homeland communities with internet connectivity, and professionalising Yolngu consultants and researchers,” he said.
“The use of digital technology in this project will provide not only a video link between remote teachers and students on-campus, but a means of communicating Indigenous knowledge workers' environment and the way that they organise it.
Professor Christie said that it was the organisation of objects that would create a pathway to understanding of alternative knowledge systems.
During the awards seminar, CDU also recognised the 12 years of service by Yolngu languages coordinator and culture advisor Waymamba Gaykamangu.
Dr Christie and Waymamba Gaykamangu were a part of the team recognised with Australia’s highest teaching award in 2005, the Prime Minister’s Award for University Teacher of the Year, for the Yolngu Studies program.
Head of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Professor Richard Johnson looked in on the awards seminar via video link.
CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett congratulated Dr Christie on the achievement.
“This is a great honour for Michael and his Indigenous co-workers and demonstrates CDU’s commitment to leading-edge education. The award supports Charles Darwin University’s stated commitment in its Futures Framework to be the best in Australia in Indigenous participation and relevance and to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and needs into mainstream University activities,” she said.