Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface

Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface Thesis

School of Indigenous Australian Studies and School of Education

  • Author(s): Yunkaporta, Tyson
  • Published: 2009
  • Publisher: James Cook University
  • Volume: Doctor of Education

Abstract: This research project investigates two questions and proposes two answers. The first question asks how teachers can engage with Aboriginal knowledge. The proposed solution involves applying a reconciling theory of Cultural Interface to staff development. The second question asks how teachers can use Aboriginal knowledge productively in schools. The proposed solution lies in the application of Aboriginal processes rather than content, specifically the application of Aboriginal pedagogies. In investigating these questions participants sought to incorporate authentic Aboriginal perspectives in the curriculum in ways that increased intellectual rigour and supported mainstream academic success for Aboriginal learners. I propose that this outcome is currently blocked by an oppositional framing of Aboriginal and western knowledge systems, caused by shallow perceptions of Indigenous knowledge as being limited to token cultural items. This tokenism serves only to highlight difference and marginalise Indigenous thought. I propose that these issues can be addressed by introducing a reconciling theory for working with multiple knowledge systems and by focusing on Aboriginal meta-knowledge, particularly native knowledge of pedagogy. So the dual aims of this thesis are to demonstrate how teachers can embrace deeper Aboriginal knowledge through reconciling processes, and how this knowledge can be integrated into daily classroom practice. This problem is explored in Aboriginal communities and their schools across Western New South Wales, Australia. A tool for integrating the common-ground pedagogies of multiple worldviews has been developed and incorporated into the regional education strategy as part of the study. Participating teachers engaged with this knowledge through training activities, planning days and trials, then reported on their activities via wiki, email, and informal interviews. The results of their work speak to the question of how to meet the New South Wales Department of Education and Training’s mandate of incorporating Aboriginal perspectives across the curriculum (DET, 2009). The reconciling principle that grounds the work is the theory of Cultural Interface, the dynamic overlap between systems previously defined as dichotomous and incompatible. The Aboriginal pedagogy framework used for the project is drawn from local language, stories and cultural experiences and supported by the literature about Aboriginal ways of learning. This is combined with the best available western models of pedagogy used in the region, with the overlap between the diverse systems determining the teaching and learning methods used in the study. The methodology employed in this work was an Indigenous standpoint methodology developed through a process of auto ethnography. This resulted in a methodology that was named ‘Research as Business’ grounded for the purposes of this study in a metaphorical framework of traditional carving processes. The sections of this thesis are also organised around the carving process: 1. Place, Story, Protocol and Wood 2. Bringing the Tools 3. Rough Cutting 4. Carving the Shape 5. Grinding 6. Smoothing

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Suggested Citation
Yunkaporta, Tyson, 2009, Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface, Volume:Doctor of Education, Thesis, viewed 13 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=5527.

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