Strategies to Face Adversity: Education

Many participants spoke of education as power and how having an education certainly empowered them as individuals.

“In my sixty years of life, I guess the most important thing that has made me resilient is education.”

imagesMany participants believed education was an important factor for future generations of Aboriginal people, especially in order to deal with adversity.

What is the difference between education and learning? Education is referred to here by study participants as a western education. Learning, mentioned earlier, is referred to from a cultural perspective.

Most participants had experienced many adversities first hand. It is through these experiences that they could see the importance of a good education. For some, they did not receive a higher education themselves but believed a good education was an important resilience factor. Participants with a higher education certainly mentioned education as being one of the main factors of being resilient:

“In my sixty years of life, I guess the most important thing that has made me resilient is education.”

Others believed their resilience was due to having a higher education; they also believed that education empowered them as an individual:

“I think education played a part in my resilience. I believe education helps a person to feel empowered.”

Another participant saw education as something that would set him up for where he wanted to go:

“So the principle of getting a good education set you in good stead or would set you up for where you wanted to go.”

The following participant spoke of the need to be pulled out of a bad situation and believed education did this for her:

“Education was something that I always felt helped me. I needed to study. My brain needed to be stimulated. I guess I turned to education to help pull me out of a bad situation.”

Some participants believed education made them more aware and gave them a better understanding of the issues they were facing and would continued to face:

“…education has helped me to be a better person as I have more understanding about issues.”

One participant explained how his former employer encouraged him to obtain an education, the reason being that education would empower him:

“He told me straight that education was the way to go as I needed to be educated and know my rights and also I had to learn to talk up for myself.”

Another participant spoke of obtaining her university degree as a mother, and why she did so for her children:

“I got the University Education as a mother and I just blossomed. The learning in me and the love of learning, not just for me but for my kids.”

It is important to note that although most participants saw the importance of education, there were others who saw education as the ‘white way’ of doing things. However, one participant believed he held on to his cultural knowledge as well:

“I learned the white way of living by getting an education, but I brought my cultural knowledge with me.”

There are a number of participants’ experiences that demonstrate how a higher education enabled them to face adversity. Many spoke of education as power and how having an education certainly empowered them as individuals.

While others saw education as learning the ‘white way of living’, they were able to bring their cultural knowledge with them. Whatever the experience, it is clear from study participants that education is an important strategy when facing adversity.

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