Contextualising Aboriginal faunal stories with the Linnaean taxonomy: Culturally responsive pedagogy in zoology


  • Joël Rioux Batchelor Institute
  • Bronwyn Ewing Queensland University of Technology



Aboriginal stories, zoology, culturally responsive pedagogy


This article explores the contextualising of local Aboriginal animal stories with the zoology curriculum in Queensland at one independent high school, where students’ learning potential often remains untapped. Contextualisation, encompasses heritage, cultural knowledge, country and Linnaean zoology taxonomy to form a culturally responsive pedagogy that supports students’ learning and pride in their heritage. To illustrate how students can learn in culturally responsive ways, a sinuous path encompassing six phases for collecting local faunal stories was necessary, prior to delivering the Linnaean zoology taxonomy. Elders’ animal stories were documented and then contextualised into classificatory materials to integrate local faunal knowledge. Drawing on an Indigenist Research Framework including storytelling, talking circles, interviewing and Action Research methodology, transcribing, retranscribing and restorying was used to explore the effect of a culturally responsive approach on students’ culture, and knowledge of local fauna. Findings indicated that the local animal stories became the foundation for the development of a First Classification of Animal Kingdom chart from the non-Aboriginal animal knowledge tradition which tapped into students’ learning potential through elders’ stories about local culture. Real-life storytelling on country is preferable as such contexts provide meaningful learning for students, rather than in decontextualised classroom spaces.


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Author Biographies

Joël Rioux, Batchelor Institute

Dr Joël Rioux implemented the Montessori Method to remote Queensland Aboriginal high school students (8 years) and taught non-Aboriginal elementary students in Australia (8 years). His experience in the Canadian Arctic led him to his research interest in Aboriginal Science Education and investigate the interface between Eurocentric and Aboriginal sciences. Joël Rioux currently lectures pre-service teachers at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory.

Bronwyn Ewing, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Bronwyn Ewing is an Associate Professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at QUT. She takes a transdisciplinary approach to research to integrate disciplines to address the teaching and learning of mathematics to students and adults from low SES background, Aboriginal students, students with disability and students in youth detention.


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How to Cite

Rioux, J., & Ewing, B. (2022). Contextualising Aboriginal faunal stories with the Linnaean taxonomy: Culturally responsive pedagogy in zoology. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(1).