The University of Melbourne Must be Immediately Bulldozed! By James Reed

     When I read this amazing stuff by some smart uni. guy I knew exactly what needed to be done:

“The University of Melbourne’s history pales into insignificance compared with the thousands of years of history and culture of the people on this land and the country in Arnhem Land. One of the key values at our university that we share with the great ancient cultures of this land is a tradition of respect for, and the nurturing of, knowledge. We value education as one of the most important things that a society can do for its people. I was pleased to lead a University of Melbourne group to attend Garma 2019, which included members of the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program. The Atlantic program is a great educational initiative shaping future leaders for indigenous communities. We cherish education and nurture it for the good it can do in every community. Few have put this better than a young Gumatj man speaking at Garma last year, Michael Yunupingu. Yunupingu is a student and his words about education are powerful. He said: “Education is the most powerful tool for breaking down barriers, and the only way we can adapt with the rest of Australia while maintaining our strong culture.” Education should be an ongoing process, where we can all learn from each other in different ways. In my short exposure to Garma, I have learned a great deal and now realise how much more there is to learn from indigenous culture.

Yunupingu added what the elders have been saying for years — that education is crucial for the future. This is something I also passionately believe in. Many clever people work in universities, teaching the leaders and contributors of the future and doing important research. But universities are not just about the academics — they are primarily there for students, and certainly not just for students from white communities, wealthy backgrounds, the sons and daughters of privileged people. Students are the heart of everything we do. We exist for students of every community, in Australia and countries beyond. We are there for students with brilliant potential from every part of this country. Along with other leaders, I attended Garma to work with the leaders of the clans in this country in partnership with the Yothu Yindi Foundation. Together, we will advance and improve education for young people here, from other parts of Australia and from other lands. We will be a better university if we work in partnership, honouring, celebrating and teaching indigenous knowledge alongside our own knowledge traditions. This is a commitment the university is ready to make, every day of the year. One symbol of our commitment to partnership is our investment in an Indigenous Knowledge Institute. The institute will be a centre and gathering place for Aboriginal knowledge in all its forms. It will respect and celebrate and become a magnet for knowledge of other indigenous people from around the world.’

     A lovely speech, but really if the universities are just a speck of dust compared to indigenous knowledge, and I am not taking a position one way or the other, being too scared, then why have the universities at all? Shouldn’t they be bulldozed down and natural vegetation re-established, so that we might learn the old ways instead of upstart stuff like science and mathematics? I mean to say, what has science and mathematics ever given us? Surely only headaches trying to solve equations.



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Tuesday, 11 August 2020
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