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This special issue of the Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, titled ‘South-South Dialogues: Global Approaches to Decolonial Pedagogies’, aims to contribute to the field of Australian Indigenous Studies and Education by further diversifying the perspectives, conversations and conceptual tools to engage with Indigenous pedagogies. Through a south-south conversational and conceptual approach, this special issue expands the conversation of Indigenous pedagogies internationally and conceptually from a global south location. At the same time, this special issue means to be a re-iteration of the first ‘South-South Dialogues: Situated Perspectives in Decolonial Epistemologies’ conference held in November 2015 at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, which displayed a south-south conversation lead by local and global Indigenous perspectives. This special issue further theorises what many local and global scholars view as implied in Indigenous education: that the mainstream field of education can be re-examined using a decolonial viewpoint, one that is led by the views of Indigenous peoples and people of colour from the ‘global south’. This issue also responds to a re-awakening of decolonial theories that have been embodied in ‘Southern Theory’ (Connell, 2007), Indigenous Standpoint Theory (Nakata, 2007), coloniality/decoloniality (see, for instance, Maldonado-Torres, 2007), among others that continue to re-examine the conditions in which colonisation continues to be epistemologically exerted and continue to propose ways to contest it. This re-invigorated conversation is one that can be addressed by a genuinely horizontal intercultural dialogue lead by the southern perspectives. This was, one way or another, what was observed and lived in the ‘South-South Dialogues’ conference that felt like the starting point of a newer form of knowledge production and pedagogy.
We are very pleased to bring you Volume 46.2 of the Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. In conversation as Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators working towards social justice in education, the papers in this Volume explore key questions across school, tertiary education and policy contexts. One of the key challenges for those of us working in Indigenous education landscapes in Australia and globally continues to be the ways in which policy plays out and is performed through high stakes testing of various shapes and forms. Like policy itself, ‘testing’ is linked to discourse about Indigenous peoples, capacity for educational ‘success’ and the kinds of pedagogies and teacher-ly performativities that might be enacted to achieve such outcomes. This is a necessarily complex landscape and the discussions we present in this Volume ask us to take pause and consider the relationship between policy, testing and educational practice and the ways these interface with Indigenous ways of being, doing and knowing.
In her recent work, Sara Ahmed explores wilfulness as a negative charge made by some against others, thinking about the relationship between ill will and good will, the particular and the general, and the embeddedness of will in a political and cultural landscape. In Ahmed's reading, wilfulness is a characteristic often ascribed to those who do ‘not will the reproduction of the whole’ (2011, p. 246) — those who are deemed wayward, wandering, and/or deviant. Using Ahmed's discussions, in this paper, we report on the successes and failures of a research project exploring mentoring programs in enhancing the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander preservice teachers. We think about the tensions always present between two faces of such a project: the need to reproduce modes of compliance to the expectations of a Western academic institutional regime; and the wilful pursuit of the kinds of wayward resistance and critique that may be potentially undermining and self-sabotaging as well as wholly necessary as attempts at decoloniality. We report on both the successes of the program and the continuing failure to address issues of colonialism. In doing so, we position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research as a performative doubleness which needs wilfulness in order to ‘stand up, to stand against the world’ (Ahmed, 2011, p. 250) of colonial reproduction in neo-liberal times.
We are honoured to present this issue of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. It is a sentiment we express each time an issue is released but rarely do we unpack what this is exactly. Formerly, the Aboriginal Child at School, The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education has resisted and persisted the tide of state, Federal and global politics which ebb and flow through our work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, and Indigenous education more broadly. Appearing sometimes as friend, sometimes as foe, and perhaps many more times as both, such practices, policies and politics present ongoing challenges for us but nevertheless, we are still here searching for and speaking particular kinds of justice into the space for the Indigenous children, their families and communities that matter to us. The current educational climate of neoliberalism — replete as it is with individualism, competition, measurement and accountability — is certainly no different but we are still here — persisting and resisting. We are still on our way to the kind of education we seek for Indigenous peoples at all levels locally, nationally and globally and the papers in this issue represent that search. To quote bell hooks in Teaching to Transgress, a much loved scholar in critical pedagogy, ‘the academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitation, remains a location of possibility’ (1994, p. 207). The ongoing search to move beyond boundaries characterises much of the work that appears in The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education and it is this sentiment which we are honoured to present.
Spirituality becomes more important for many older people. For many, spirituality is largely associated with life meaning whilst for others, it has a specific religious dimension. Over the last couple of decades this has become an area of great interest, and anecdotes about spirituality in older adults are being replaced with research findings. The importance of understanding how the spiritual dimension is lived out in individual lives in multifaith and multicultural twenty-first century western countries is an important challenge for those who work with older adults. There is also increasing interest from within Asia regarding spirituality and ageing.
The spiritual dimension of life is a vital part of being human. It is from this spiritual dimension that the deepest issues of life meaning and relationship arise. Although people are not always aware of their spirituality, it is likely to come to awareness in times of both great joy and of great trauma and grief. Whilst this is true across the lifespan, matters of the spiritual dimension become more important to many people as they grow older, sometimes for the first time in their lives. For some this is an issue largely associated with finding life meaning and is fulfilled within a secular context; for others, it has a specific religious dimension. Viktor Frankl saw meaning as a crucial factor for survival and hope (1984).
This chapter briefly describes a model of spiritual tasks and process of ageing (MacKinlay 2001) designed to fit both theo-centric and secular modes of meaning-finding. The model recognises a central core of life meaning from which the person responds to life. This core or ultimate meaning is affected by and influences the person's sense of self-sufficiency and vulnerability, their life story, the importance of relationship and finding hope in later life.
The recognition of the universal nature of the spiritual dimension of human beings sets the scene for examination of this dimension, both within a religious and also from a secular perspective. A basic assumption for this chapter is that a person's spiritual dimension lies at the very depths of what it means to be human. The way that culture is experienced and the ways that religions and spirituality are expressed will vary according to regional and specific religious and cultural heritage and custom.
We are very pleased to bring you Volume 45 of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. At this moment in time, we feel that the work of AJIE has perhaps never been more important, particularly as it relates to engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and communities in systems of schooling. In May this year we witnessed the evacuation of school teachers from the remote community of Aurukun, Queensland in fear of violence. A group of 15 disengaged young people had threatened the School Principal and as a consequence of the evacuation, 300 engaged children were subsequently disengaged from School for the remaining five weeks of term following the closure. There is no doubt that teacher safety is paramount, similarly, there should be no doubt that community consultation and engagement in a move like this one equally so. The questions which hang in the air relate to why such levels of disengagement exist. Why are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people disengaged from schooling in Aurukun? What makes it okay that a large number of engaged Indigenous children were forcibly made to disengage from school? Why is there such disengagement from government in engaging local people in the ways in which education business is carried out with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and communities? The papers in this volume of AJIE then, all speak strongly to issues of engagement – the kinds of pedagogy and curriculum that can and should be in place, the kinds of relationships that can and should be in place, and the kinds of outcomes made possible when such educational moves are made. A resounding message from all of the articles in this volume is that the on-going engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, parents, and communities is key to defining and achieving what educational success might mean for each individual child, context and classroom. This is by no means a new message, but the recent events in Aurukun remind us that it is one we must keep returning to – the stakes for complacency and forgetting are too high.
This special issue of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education presents a second volume of papers which specifically address the issue of remote education for Indigenous Australians. ‘Red Dirt Revisited’, edited by John Guenther, presents findings from his team working on the Remote Education Systems (RES) project within the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP). Focusing on a number of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educational sites in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, the RES project is now in its final stages and the main intention behind this special issue is to share significant findings from this important research. Much of the work presented here is by postgraduate students and AJIE is very pleased to be able to provide a voice and forum to support and ‘grow’ early career researchers in our field.
So what is known in the scholarship of religion and spirituality at this point of the 21st century? Definitions of spirituality show a growing understanding of the breadth and content of spirituality, and yet, there remains no firm definition. In one sense, it might be good that spirituality has not been tightly defined. Swinton and Pattison (2010, p231) note, “multiple definitions may be indicative of the necessity and the flexibility of the term to meet particular needs that would otherwise go unmet.” The publication of the paper written by Agli et al. in this edition of the journal, is timely and provides an excellent systematic review of the recent literature.
The quest to improve Indigenous people's access, participation and outcomes in education wherever we live in the world involves a concerted effort from all, and across all levels of education from the pre-school to the postgraduate sector. Improvements in these areas, as we have seen in past issues of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, are closely tied to improving other social and economic indicators in Indigenous lives, such as health, employment, governance and housing. The importance of research in the field of Indigenous education is a fundamental part of understanding the complexity of the issues, the level of constraints, as well as the many possibilities as we move forward in time. And, as practitioners of Indigenous education continue to keep looking for new ideas or examples of teaching and learning practice, AJIE continues to invite descriptions of educational practice and articulations of Indigenous experience from our readership. As educational research and practice have progressively become global, we have sought experiences beyond our Aeotorea/New Zealand and North American colleagues to countries and contexts that are less familiar to us. We are pleased to report that for our efforts in this regard, AJIE is now listed with SCOPUS, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.
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.
We are very proud to present this timely and significant Special Issue of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, guest edited by Katelyn Barney (The University of Queensland), Cindy Shannon (The University of Queensland) and Martin Nakata (The University of New South Wales). This collection of articles focuses on the activities of the Australian Indigenous Studies Learning and Teaching Network, an initiative funded by the Office for Teaching and Learning. The Australian Indigenous Studies Learning and Teaching Network was formed to bring leaders and early career academics in the field together to build relationships, debate and discuss central issues, and explore and share teaching and learning strategies in the discipline at tertiary level. These discussions at once untangle and re-entangle the processes, pedagogies and politics at play when Indigenous Studies becomes defined as a discipline.
In this paper, I use a bricolage of arts-based research and writing practices to explore narratives by Grade 4 children about their experiences in a drumming circle called ‘Bam Bam’ as represented in a text they created with me called An ABC of drumming. The term ‘narrative’ is used here in a contemporary sense to simultaneously invoke a socially and musically situated and constructed story (Chase, 2005 p. 657); as an ‘account to self and others’ (Barrett & Stauffer, 2009, p. 7) about drumming in a particular place, with a particular group of children during a particular set of events; and, to explore narratives of drumming as the ‘shared relational work’ of myself as a drummer, teacher, researcher and ‘story-teller/story-liver’ (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 12) alongside the children. In synchronicity with the ABC of drumming produced by the children, the paper itself is framed and written creatively around letters of the alphabet and variously includes poetry and data or research poetry; ethnographic ‘thick descriptions’ (Geertz, 1973) of our drumming circle; and, visual and textual expressions by the children. By doing so, my aim is to move collectively from ‘narrative as a “story-presented” to narrative as a “form of meaning-making”, indeed, a form of “mind-making”’ (Barrett & Stauffer, 2009, p. 10) about the children's experience of drumming and the drumming circle itself. The central question underpinning this paper then is, what makes children's experience in a drumming circle meaningful, and how do they make sense of such meaning?
It is with pleasure we present this Special Issue of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, which is devoted to the research being conducted by the Remote Education Systems (RES) project in a range of sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. The RES project is a 5-year project and represents one theme within the larger research program of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP). The AJIE welcomes the chance to circulate the progress of this important work to our readership, many of whom are committed to improving Indigenous schooling. We particularly welcome the chance to devote an entire edition to remote Indigenous education, for the challenges in this context are not well understood, but are often the subject of public comment and opinion from all quarters. The RES project is investigating and challenging the assumptions that underpin the current rationales of Indigenous remote education systems. The AJIE is also pleased to welcome John Guenther and Melodie Bat as our Guest Editors for this volume. We also thank Professor Jeannie Herbert, Foundation Chair of Indigenous Studies at Charles Sturt University, for her Introduction to the journal articles. Born in the remote Kimberley, Jeannie has been a classroom teacher and educational administrator. She is best known as an Indigenous academic who has been an active Indigenous education advocate, researcher, author and speaker for many years. We look forward to your engagement with the themes and issues contained in this special edition and in future editions of AJIE.
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.
What is the state of play in Indigenous education today? What kind of thinking is driving the reform agenda in Indigenous education right now? What kinds of gains have we made and what work is there yet to do? In an era of unprecedented ‘gap’ talk, these are pressing questions, which the articles in this issue address and explore.
Indigenous Australian studies, also called Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, is an expanding discipline in universities across Australia (Nakata, 2004). As a discipline in its own right, Indigenous Australian studies plays an important role in teaching students about Australia's colonial history and benefits both non-Indigenous and Indigenous students by teaching them about Australia's rich and shared cultural heritage (Craven, 1999, pp. 23–25). Such teaching and learning seeks to actively discuss and deconstruct historical and contemporary entanglements between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and, in doing so, help build better working relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. As educators in this discipline, it is important for us to find pedagogical approaches which make space for these topics to be accessed, understood, discussed and engaged with in meaningful ways.
The AIJE has an established tradition of publishing special Supplements to highlight papers on a particular topic. This special edition of the AJIE is an outcome of a 2-year curriculum renewal project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, which focused on teaching and learning practice in Australian Indigenous studies. The project involved collaboration between academics of Australian Indigenous studies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. The articles in this special edition comprise descriptions of pedagogical innovations and discussions or reflections on the issues engaged in the course of the project by some of the key participants.
In this article, I take a creative and autoethnographic approach to reflect upon processes of decolonisation in Indigenous Australian studies classrooms. Positioning myself as a non-Indigenous educator, I take the reader on a journey through my search for pedagogy which makes space for the colonial, difficult and messy politics of race, whiteness and knowledge to be actively challenged, deconstructed and reimagined in this context as PEARL.