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At the Back of the Class. At the Front of The Class: Experiences as Aboriginal Student and Aboriginal Teacher

Larissa Behrendt
Feminist Review
No. 52, The World Upside Down: Feminisms in the Antipodes (Spring, 1996), pp. 27-35
DOI: 10.2307/1395770
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1395770
Page Count: 9
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At the Back of the Class. At the Front of The Class: Experiences as Aboriginal Student and Aboriginal Teacher
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Abstract

This is a personal account of an Aboriginal woman who went through the education system in Australia to obtain finally her law degree. Aboriginal people experience many hurdles in the education system. Many Aboriginal children feel alienated within the legal system which until recently focused on a colonial history of Australia, ignoring the experiences, indeed the presence, of indigenous people in Australia. The Australian government had a policy of not educating Aboriginal people past the age of 14. The author was one of the first generation that could go straight from high school to university. She speaks of the debt she feels towards the generations of her people that fought for her right to access to higher education. The author went on to become the first Aboriginal person to be accepted into Harvard Law School which brought different personal challenges and allowed for reflection on comparisons of the sensitivity towards race in both education systems. When the author returned to Australia, she took a position teaching at the University of New South Wales. She had to come to terms with working within a system that she had felt alienated within as a student. Her position at the front of the class has created a sense of empowerment that she can pass on to her Aboriginal and female students.

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