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Al Fricker

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content consultant on the Good Humanities series

How long have you been in the education industry?
I have been in the education industry for ten years. During this time, I have been a primary and secondary school teacher, coordinated Indigenous tertiary engagement programs, and am now completing a PhD and lecturing in Indigenous Education in a Victorian university.

How have you noticed your teaching style change over the years? Why do you think this is?
Over the years, I have seen many changes in education. Much of this has been driven by technology, policy and curriculum changes, and fluctuations in funding and research. In terms of my own teaching style, the greatest changes have occurred through the impact of technology, the context and age of my students, and more recently, the requirement to deliver all teaching in an online capacity. Beyond the contextual changes in my teaching, I have also been working hard to decolonise my practice and include more content, pedagogies, community relationships, and curate the learning spaces to include more of my own, as a proud Dja Dja Wurrung man, Aboriginal knowledges to my teaching practice. I have found over the years that this provides crucial support to any First nations students I have taught, as well as the many non-Indigenous students in my classes.

What is the importance to you of good educational resources?
In the contemporary classroom where teachers are often working in a crowded curriculum and time poor contexts, good educational resources are crucial. On the one hand, they need to be accurate, informative and engaging for students and on the other must link to the curriculum and relevant educational policies for teachers. In addition, teachers expect that the content will be appropriate, accurate, and suitable for authentic learning by the students. A good resource is one that fulfils these requirements so the teacher can get on and teach with confidence. 

What has been your favourite part of writing an education resource?
My contributions to these educational resources has been as a cultural consultant and editor. Although I have not written the content, my role has been one where I have been editing and providing advice around content and activities to ensure they are culturally appropriate and factually accurate. My favourite part of the process has been applying my research into decolonising practice and embedding it into these resources for the benefit of teachers, students, and other key stakeholders.

What is your favourite part of being a teacher?
Hands down, my absolute favourite part of being a teacher is the interaction with students. There is no greater satisfaction than when teaching and seeing students succeed. This could be as complex as through assessment, or something as simple as sharing a joke. It is truly an honour and a privilege to have a hand in shaping the future of the globe.

What are three things people wouldn’t know about you?
I have been associated as a player and coach - as well as many other jobs - in my local junior basketball club (Go Buffaloes!) for 20 years, I am an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and my favourite food is pizza.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching (or writing)?

When I am not teaching or researching, I like to relax by playing video games and to keep fit by playing basketball. On the weekends I coach junior basketball and work in the garden.

Who are three people, living or dead, you’d love to have dinner with?
Marie Curie – 2 Nobel Prizes! Truganini – an Aboriginal hero, and Rosa Parks, who sparked the civil rights movement.

What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is 'Dark Emu' by Bruce Pascoe. This is a book that is in my top three as being one of the most transformative reads I have ever had. It shines a light on the history of Australia and challenges and debunks most of the myths about Aboriginal people that I have been fighting my whole life to overcome. The detailed research and the vivid descriptions of Aboriginal culture, technology, and lives just prior and during the early colonisation of Australia has put into sharp relief the misinformation, fallacies, and outright lies that have been taught to students in Australia for the last two centuries. This is a book that I think all teachers should read and share with their students.

Do you follow a sports team?
I don’t usually say this too loudly, but I follow Essendon.