Ahead of this year’s VECTEA PD Day, main presenter Dr Red Ruby Scarlet explains how Indigenous Cosmologies are the nucleus of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Belonging, Being and Becoming, and how they’re key to our anti-bias work. “When we ask where we are, and who else is with us, we learn how to discuss diverse perspectives”. 

Indigenous Cosmologies explain the relationship between people and their environment and the laws that set out the realm of Aboriginal experience. They inform our place-based pedagogy through understanding ways of working, being, and becoming at a deep level. 

“Anti-bias is key here; as a non-indigenous person, I keep away from telling stories that are not my own. It’s not my job to promote indigenous culture, but it is my job to explore place.” 

So, why is a non-indigenous person talking about Indigenous Cosmologies? Dr Red explains that as early childhood educators we are compelled to engage with the National Quality Framework (NQF) and being curious about Indigenous Cosmologies plays into this. 

Dr Red says she is privileged to have worked closely with indigenous women educators across Australia for over 30 years. “There’s otherworldliness, a temporal-spatial experience we can’t know if we’re not indigenous. Indigenous folk understand it because it’s their way of understanding.” 

She says everything we do in our inquiry-based learning can be traced back to Indigenous Cosmologies. “By engaging curiously, creatively, and culturally, we’re driving everything we do through Indigenous Cosmologies.” 

This sits within a ‘three C’ structure of concept, context and content. “The concept is Indigenous Cosmologies, the context is the ECMS pedagogical framework, and the content is the way we generate content, and why.” Understanding concept and context is key to generating the right content. “If you’re using inquiry-based learning you’re situating children into their context – it’s generated, not picked up and delivered. It’s important to work within context because you’ll learn more. It makes no sense to decontextualize children, and damage happens when we take people out of their context.” 

Dr Red says these ways of knowing and being are fundamental to anti-bias and refers to the Respect for Diversity principle on page 14 of the EYLF and practice architectures. 

“Ask yourself what are the doings, sayings, and relatings of your basic working, for example how to construct a budget or have a ‘difficult’ discussion with a parent? So, if you embody Indigenous Cosmologies you are doing, saying and relating practice. If I’m embedding, I’m embodying them. We’re not taking things for granted as truths and we’re working out how can we store new ways and perspectives, or as the brilliant Dr Katherine Bussey says, “re-wire” ourselves.”