Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-cjp7w Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T09:13:25.188Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

PEARLs, Problems and Politics: Exploring Findings From Two Teaching and Learning Projects in Indigenous Australian Studies at The University of Queensland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 August 2014

Elizabeth Mackinlay
School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Katelyn Barney*
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
address for correspondence: Katelyn Barney, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia. Email:
Get access


This article explores the implementation of PEARL (Political, Embodied, Active, and Reflective Learning) in two courses at The University of Queensland: a first-year introductory Indigenous Studies course and a second year Indigenous Education course. We draw on findings from a 2-year (2010–2011) Office for Learning and Teaching (then ALTC) funded curriculum renewal project and findings from a pilot project (2013) implementing PEARL in a compulsory Indigenous Education course for all pre-service teacher educators in primary and secondary teacher training at The University of Queensland. Drawing transformative education theory into conversation with critical pedagogy and anti-colonial/racist education, we share student data from focus groups, questionnaires and reflective journals to examine the shift in students’ understanding of Indigenous issues, histories and peoples. Finally, we reflect on the ways the results hold great potential for the further implementation of PEARL into other university level courses, specifically in relation to a ‘pedagogy of solidarity’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Research Article
Copyright © The Authors 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Allen, R.L. (2004). Whiteness and critical pedagogy. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36 (2), 121136.Google Scholar
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). Cross-curriculum priorities. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from Scholar
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). (1996). Aboriginal Australia Map. Canberra, Australia: Aboriginal Studies Press.Google Scholar
Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). National Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from Scholar
Barney, K. (2012a). Conversations, collaborations and contestations: Building a dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in ethnomusicological research. Altitude, 10. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from www.thealtitudejournal.netGoogle Scholar
Barney, K. (2012b). Teaching, learning and enacting the education principles on Indigenous Australian matters (EPIAM) at The University of Queensland. Brisbane, Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
Barney, K. (2013). ‘Taking your mob with you’: Giving voice to the experiences of Indigenous Australian postgraduate students. Higher Education Research and Development, 32 (4), 515528.Google Scholar
Barney, K., & Mackinlay, E. (2010). Creating rainbows from words and transforming understandings: Enhancing student learning through reflective writing in an Aboriginal music course. Teaching in Higher Education, 15 (2), 161173.Google Scholar
Bell, D. (1998). Ngarrindjeri wurruwarrin: A world that is, was, and will be. Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex Press.Google Scholar
Cho, G., & De Castro-Ambrosetti, D. (2005/2006). Is ignorance bliss? Pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward multicultural education. The High School Journal, 89 (2), 2428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Craven, R., & Price, K. (2011). Misconceptions, stereotypes and racism: Let's face the facts. In Craven, R. (Ed.), Teaching Aboriginal Studies: A practical resource for primary and secondary teaching (pp. 4267). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
Freire, P. (1998). In Freire, A.M. & Macedo, D. (Eds.), The Paulo Freire reader. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
Garde-Hansen, J., & Calvert, B. (2007). Developing a research culture in the undergraduate curriculum. Active Learning in Higher Education, 8 (2), 105116.Google Scholar
Gatimu, M.W. (2009). Rationale for a critical pedagogy of decolonization: Kenya as a unit of analysis. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 7 (2), 6797.Google Scholar
Giroux, H. (2011). On critical pedagogy. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar
Greene, M. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
Greene, M. (2009). In search of a critical pedagogy. In Darder, A., Baltodano, M.P., & Torres, R.D. (Eds.), The critical pedagogy reader (2nd ed., pp. 8496). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Griffiths, M. (2003). Action for social justice in education: Fairly different. London: Open University Press.Google Scholar
hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Ladson-Billings, G. (1997). I know why this doesn't feel empowering: A critical race analysis of critical pedagogy. In Freire, P. (Ed.), Mentoring the mentor: A critical dialogue with Paulo Freire (pp. 127141). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
Leonardo, Z. (2002). The souls of white folk: Critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, and globalization discourse. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 5 (1), 2950.Google Scholar
Mackinlay, E. (2008). Making space as white music educators for Indigenous Australian holders of song, dance and performance knowledge: The centrality of relationship as pedagogy. The Australian Journal of Music Education, 1, 26.Google Scholar
Mackinlay, E. (2011). Social justice and music education: Engaging our thinking hearts. International Kodaly Bulletin, 36 (2), 815.Google Scholar
Mackinlay, E., & Barney, K. (2010). Transformative learning in first year Indigenous Australian studies: Posing problems, asking questions and achieving change. A practice report. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 1 (1), 9199.Google Scholar
Mackinlay, E., & Barney, K. (2011). Teaching and learning for social justice: An approach to transformative education in Indigenous Australian studies. In Williams, G. (Ed.), Talking back, talking forward: Journeys in transforming Indigenous educational practice (pp. 117128). Darwin, Australia: Charles Darwin University Press.Google Scholar
Mackinlay, E., & Barney, K. (Eds.). (2012). Pearls not problems: Transformative pedagogy in Indigenous Australian studies in the context of higher education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 41.Google Scholar
Maddison, S. (2011). The real challenge for black-white relations in Australia: Beyond white guilt. Sydney, NSW: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
Mezirow, J. (1996). Contemporary paradigms of learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 50, 523.Google Scholar
Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning discourse. Journal of Transformative Education, 1 (1), 5863.Google Scholar
Nakata, M. (2007). Savaging the disciplines, disciplining the savages. Canberra, Australia: Aboriginal Studies Press.Google Scholar
Nile, R., & Ryan, L. (Eds). (1996). Secret women's business: The Hindmarsh Island affair. Special issue of Journal of Australian Studies, 48.Google Scholar
O’Sullivan, E., Morrell, A., & O’Connor, M.A. (2002). Introduction. In Sullivan, E., Morrell, A., & O’Connor, M.A. (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and practice (pp. xv–xx). New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
Palmer, P., & Zajonc, A. (2010). The heart of higher education: A call to renewal. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publications.Google Scholar
Rezai-Rushti, G. (1995). Multicultural education, anti-racist education, and critical pedagogy: Reflections on everyday practice. In Ng, R., Staton, P., & Scane, J. (Eds.), Anti-racism, feminism, and critical approaches to education (pp. 320). Westport, CN: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
Savin-Baden, M. (2000). Problem-based learning in higher education: Untold stories. Buckingham, UK: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.Google Scholar
Schwartz, P., Mennin, S., & Webb, G. (2001). Introduction. In Schwartz, P., Mennin, S., & Webb, G. (Eds.), Problem-based learning: Case studies, experience and practice (pp. 112). London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
Sefa Dei, G.J. (2002). Spiritual knowledge and transformative learning. In Sullivan, E., Morrell, A., & O’Connor, M.A. (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and practice (pp. 121133). New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
Sefa Dei, G.J. (2006). Introduction: Mapping the terrain — Towards a new politics of resistance. In Sefa Dei, G.J. & Kempf, A. (Eds.), Anti-colonialism and education: The politics of resistance (pp. 124). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
Sefa-Dei, G.J. (2008). Indigenous knowledge studies and the next generation: Possibilities for anti-colonial education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 37 (Suppl.), 513.Google Scholar
Tuck, E., & Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, 1 (1), 140.Google Scholar
Universities Australia. (2011). National best practice framework for cultural competency in Australian Universities. Retrieved May 12, 2014 from Scholar
Zembylas, M. (2013). The ‘crisis of pity’ and the radicalisation of solidarity: Toward critical pedagogies of compassion. Educational Studies, 49 (6), 504521.Google Scholar