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past student’s impressions of Tranby College

Bennett, R. Impressions of a past student in The Meeting Tree

At Tranby College the most important lessons I learnt were political awareness; self-confidence; an understanding of my heritage and the oppression of my people by a dominant white culture. With the differences in teaching methods and content, plus being taught by fellow Aboriginals, I have come to realise the biased attitudes I was brought up with in the white education system. I now have the skills to analyse and understand social problems and their causes. On reflection, the previous institutions I have attended have done little but fuel and maintain and have tried to cover up the true causes of such problems.

This type of hypocricy and confusion that is taught at public institutions is what turned me off school at 13. Since then I have tried many times to get my HSC certificate and have come up against the same barriers every time, failing to complete at each attempt. I left because I felt I was being conditioned. I was being taught that the place of women, blacks, gays and migrants in society (white) was as housewives, cleaners, labourers–the underpaid and unaccepted in our white Anglo Saxon male-dominated world.

The Aboriginal Studies course proivided me with an awareness of Aboriginal history; traditional and urban culture. Here we looked at Government loyalty to mining companies over our rights. Aboriginal Studies destroyed every myth I learnt at public school concerning my people. Myths like we had no worthwhile culture, that we are weak and inferior.

The classes I attended at Tranby did not encourage us to compete with each other. We were not taught with any force and were not restricted in what we wanted to write about or how we wanted to write it. The English course was helpful in providing me with the skills necessary to research and write good essays, and gave me a sense of confidence in a classroom situation.

The topics were never abstract and the questions put to us were relevant to our lives – questions on the realities of life. For example, we looked at social justice, the role of women in society and Aboriginal Art and traditions, all of which tied in with and supplemented the rest of the course, making it work effectively.

At public school, classes consisted of narrowly teaching the conquests of Britain and North America; the conquering of Asia, Australia, India, Africa and South America; and the advances being made in science (especially in space technology) by the USA. We were never taught why the world is in such political and economic strife or what the true causes of war are and why people hate each other.

Indeed Tranby is an alternative educational process. It does not stand on the same foundations as the regular schools of knowledge in this country. It has not only given me the chance to improve my own capabilities, but it has also given me pride in my own heritage, and the will to achieve equality for my people.

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