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We are very pleased to bring you Volume 42.1 of the Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. The articles in this Volume collectively address the urgent need to disrupt ‘business as usual’ in Indigenous education in national and global contexts, and in doing so, engage in new ways of thinking and framing policy and pedagogy. Currently in Australia, discussions around what ‘counts’ as ‘good’ policy and pedagogy in Indigenous education are increasingly placed in conversation with one of three agendas: Noel Pearson's ‘radical vision’ for contemporary schooling for Indigenous students, with a renewed emphasis and return to direct instruction; Chris Sarra's ‘stronger and smarter’ strategy, which promotes a commitment to a high-expectation, high-performance and a relational approach to Indigenous education; and initiatives driven by the ‘Closing the Gap’ reform agenda. Indeed, situated within the present climate of neo-liberalism orchestrating policy by numbers, there is ‘serious stuff’ happening at the moment that impacts in very real ways on the experiences and outcomes of our Indigenous children at all levels of schooling, the capacity of teachers to work within an Indigenous Australian education space for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and the positioning of education as a location of possibility for ‘doing business differently’. The time for us as educators and researchers has never been more urgent — we have to be the ones to talk loud and to talk strong against colonial and neo-colonial moves to silence and exclude the counter stories we have to tell. In conversation as Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators working towards social justice in education, the articles in this Volume bring us these narratives.
This article reports on a large mixed methods research project that investigated the conditions of success for Aboriginal school students. The article presents the qualitative case study component of the research. It details the work of four schools identified as successful for Aboriginal students with respect to social and academic outcomes, and showed what was common and contextually different in their relationships with community and their approaches to curriculum and pedagogy. The article shows there were eight common themes that emerged in the analysis of the schools’ approaches, and these themes are considered key indicators of the ‘seeding success’.
Due to the high turnover of teaching staff in remote schools, the long-term sustainability of educational initiatives that enhance Indigenous student's learning is a major concern. This article presents a study of a remote Indigenous school (Ischool) situated in Queensland. Ischool has changed its approach to leadership, particularly the distribution of power and authority within the school context, to address this concern. The focus is on building the capacity of Indigenous staff. It is a holistic and communal approach that is culturally inclusive of Indigenous ways of being and operating. The approach actively ensures that power and authority, and roles and responsibilities, are shared between Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff. Data were collected in one-on-one interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants involved in the change process. A grounded methodological approach was utilised using open coding to break down data into distinct units of meaning. The results reveal that the Indigenous community of Ischool were more committed to promoting and sustaining education initiatives that improve student learning when: (a) school leadership structures were inclusive of Indigenous voices and Indigenous ways of relating; (b) power and authority within the school context was shared, and (c) Indigenous staff were included in professional development opportunities that foster collaborative classroom partnerships and legitimise their own knowledge of their culture and community.
This article begins by considering the general nature of capability, from some dictionary meanings, then extends to theoretical perspectives related to the capability approach. As a consequence, we arrive at an operational definition that emphasises the ability to solve problems in a systematic way that brings transformation. In these terms, capability is seen as an inherent feature of the life process. The second part of this article presents a model of knowledge generation and illustrates how the development of capability is also an inherent feature of the research process in the fundamental goal of transforming both theory and practice. In the final section, we review and update the activities, initiatives and outcomes of the Capability Building program of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, from its beginning in late 2002 to the present, and show that this multi-level and networked program continues to be successful in building research capability. We end by listing some key objectives that are necessary for continuing to strengthen our research culture and capabilities for the future.
This research examines outcomes from introducing cultural values into Cook Islands secondary schools during two cycles of action research comprising planning, implementing, observing and reflecting. The cultural values upon which the physical education lessons were based were: tāueue (participation), angaanga kapiti (cooperation), akatano (discipline), angaanga taokotai (community involvement), te reo Maori Kuki Airani (Cook Islands Maori language), and auora (physical and spiritual wellbeing). The cultural values were believed to be an essential element of teaching physical education but one challenge was how to assist teachers to implement the cultural values into classroom teaching as most participant teachers were not Cook Islanders. Findings from this action research project suggest that while participant teachers and community cultural experts may agree to incorporate cultural values in teaching Cook Islands secondary school students, teachers nonetheless find difficulties in implementing this objective.
Northern First Nations in Canada have experienced environmental change throughout history, adapting to these changes based on personal experience interacting with their environment. Community members of Fort Albany First Nation of northern Ontario, Canada, have voiced their concern that their youths’ connection to the land is diminishing, making this generation more vulnerable to environmental change. Community members previously identified the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool as potentially useful for fostering intergenerational knowledge transfer. In this article, we assess the potential of the informatics tool to reconnect youth with the surrounding land in order to strengthen the adaptive capacity of Fort Albany First Nation. The tool was introduced to students in an environmental-outreach camp that included traditional activities. Students used global positioning systems and geo-tagged photographs that were loaded onto the informatics tool. Semi-directed interviews revealed that the students enjoyed the visual and spatial capabilities of the system, and recognised its potential to be used in conjunction with traditional activities. This pilot study suggests that the tool has the potential to be used by youth to provide an opportunity for the intergenerational transfer of Indigenous knowledge, but further evaluation is required.
This article presents a number of possibilities that digital technologies can offer to increase access for Indigenous people to higher education in Australia. Such technologies can assist Indigenous high school students acquire the knowledge and skills they require to be accepted into higher education courses. They can also assist Indigenous students to be more successful in their higher education studies. While this article is contextualised to the Australian higher education setting specifically, the principles derived within may be applied to other disadvantaged groups worldwide. It may be concluded that the despite the barriers to the uptake of digital technologies, the potential offered holds much promise for such groups. In Australia, Indigenous people are the most severely under-represented in higher education, with access rates that have been declining over the past 6 years. Therefore, this issue has been classified as a matter of the highest national priority (Bradley, Noonan, Nugent, & Scales, 2008, p. 16). Concurrently, evidence is mounting that digital learning environments are able to produce positive learning outcomes for Indigenous students, albeit with a number of barriers to their uptake. This literature review explores: current trends in digital technologies and tertiary instructional practices, barriers to the uptake of digital technologies for Indigenous learners in Australia, and the potential of digital technologies for accommodating Indigenous learning styles. A number of implications for practice are discussed, based on the review of the literature.
This article presents a discussion on a study undertaken by academics within the Griffith School of Environment, Brisbane, Australia that sought to explore the potential of an Indigenised curriculum to attract and retain Indigenous students, and thereby facilitate greater participation of Indigenous students in science. The article highlights the need for staff to be both reflective and reflexive about the limitations their particular knowledge systems may impose on Indigenous ways of knowing and knowledge systems. The article also acknowledges the need for professional development opportunities for staff prior to any attempts towards Indigenisation of the curriculum.