A journey with Woolum Bellum Koorie Open Door Education (KODE) school: its life cycle in meeting the educational needs of Aboriginal children

Paton, D 2009, A journey with Woolum Bellum Koorie Open Door Education (KODE) school: its life cycle in meeting the educational needs of Aboriginal children, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Education, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A journey with Woolum Bellum Koorie Open Door Education (KODE) school: its life cycle in meeting the educational needs of Aboriginal children
Author(s) Paton, D
Year 2009
Abstract Woolum Bellum KODE (Koorie Open Door Education) School is located at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley of Victoria. The school is unique in that its curriculum is centred on the Gunnai/Kurnai language and culture of the traditional owners. The aim of this thesis is to describe and tell the history of Woolum Bellum School. My research questions are: 1. what led to the establishment of the Woolum Bellum KODE School? What are the critical success factors of the school attaining autonomy within the Victorian State Education system?

The story of Woolum Bellum and its journey is important in the context of sharing knowledge. It exemplifies how a school like Woolum Bellum can be autonomous and how it presents a challenge as it comes to terms with what works and why. As a community we can assess the overall success of the school in terms of outcomes for the community. The benefits are seen in the generation of young people who attended the school over the past fifteen years. Their experience of schooling at Woolum Bellum as opposed to their experiences in the mainstream system amounts to significant successes.

My ways of knowing have informed how I have used a method of research that respects my knowledge gifted from my Elders and Ancestors. My indigenous ways respected in using Dadirri as a methodology for narrative inquiry in research underpins and informs respect for honouring an indigenous paradigm; with tools within that paradigm to guide and shape my research. My cultural ways of knowing, my guidance in reciprocal and respectful relationships, talking together in circles, telling stories in conversations, and understanding community are at the core of these ways of knowing.

My quilts crafted with multiple layers of knowledge offer the community a visual representation of the journey. They share the narrative and knowledge in conversations and in stories. They are relational and interrelated and they interpret the issues from my ways of knowing.

This is a story I have shared with others already who believed in the possibilities for a Woolum Bellum School. Like me, they welcomed the challenges, the responsibilities that came with it to our community and Elders. And like me, the community held on to the dream that time and through listening, through learning and with knowledge, the possibility remains.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Keyword(s) Aboriginal education
Indigenous paradigm
Narrative inquiry
Ways of knowing
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