5 Questions with Susan Page

by | 9 Jul, 2018 | 0 comments

Susan Page, Professor at the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges, talks teaching advice, challenges and inspiration...

The best advice for teaching I’ve ever received is…

Don’t be afraid to try something new. It might be small, it might not be perfect, but it’s worth taking the risk to try. It’s not always possible to know how a new idea might work in practice and testing the innovation with students will garner useful feedback and help you to improve the activity. For our subject Aboriginal Sydney Now we wanted to encourage students to use creative formats for their final assessment. We thought we might get some PowerPoint presentations and some reports with pictures but we were delighted to see students doing things like creating their own websites. Much more than we had imagined.

The trickiest thing about teaching in my discipline is…

Students often come to Indigenous Studies fearful and with pre-conceived and sometimes very stereotyped ideas about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This can be challenging for teachers but it also presents a wonderful opportunity to engage in critical Indigenous and transformative pedagogies that challenge students cognitively and personally.

Which of my colleagues inspires me in teaching, and why…

I’m inspired by my Indigenous academic colleagues, who teach generously, sharing their expertise and often telling their personal stories, despite knowing that sometimes that will be met with resistance and indifference from students. They persist because they know that in every group of students there is always one of those resisters who have spectacularly transformative experiences.

What gives me joy in teaching…

The unexpected. There is always at least one student who really does see the world in a new way. The student who notices that there is an Aboriginal mural in their local shopping centre but that there are no Aboriginal people working in the shops. The student who has walked past an old house on her way to the bus most days but now knows that it was previously an old children’s home where Indigenous children were incarcerated.

My next trip…

My next trip will be to do interviews for an ARC research project (led my Professor Michelle Trudgett) on Indigenous leadership in universities.

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