Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-7j4dq Total loading time: 0.71 Render date: 2022-09-29T15:12:30.758Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Red Dirt Thinking on Educational Disadvantage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2013

John Guenther*
Affiliation:
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Melodie Bat
Affiliation:
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Sam Osborne
Affiliation:
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
*
address for correspondence: John Guenther, PO Box 1718, Alice Springs NT 0871, Australia. Email: john.guenther@flinders.edu.au
Get access

Abstract

When people talk about education of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the language used is often replete with messages of failure and deficit, of disparity and problems. This language is reflected in statistics that on the surface seem unambiguous in their demonstration of poor outcomes for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. A range of data support this view, including the National Action Plan—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) achievement data, school attendance data, Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data and other compilations such as the Productivity Commission's biennial Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report. These data, briefly summarised in this article, paint a bleak picture of the state of education in remote Australia and are at least in part responsible for a number of government initiatives (state, territory and Commonwealth) designed to ‘close the gap’. For all the programs, policies and initiatives designed to address disadvantage, the results seem to suggest that the progress, as measured in the data, is too slow to make any significant difference to the apparent difference between remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools and those in the broader community. We are left with a discourse that is replete with illustrations of poor outcomes and failures and does little to acknowledge the richness, diversity and achievement of those living in remote Australia. The purpose of this article is to challenge the ideas of ‘disadvantage’ and ‘advantage’ as they are constructed in policy and consequently reported in data. It proposes alternative ways of thinking about remote educational disadvantage, based on a reading of relevant literature and the early observations of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation's Remote Education Systems project. It is a formative work, designed to promote and frame a deeper discussion with remote education stakeholders. It asks how relative advantage might be defined if the ontologies, axiologies, epistemologies and cosmologies of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families were more fully taken into account in the education system's discourse within/of remote schooling. Based on what we have termed ‘red dirt thinking’ it goes on to ask if and what alternative measures of success could be applied in remote contexts where ways of knowing, being, doing, believing and valuing often differ considerably from what the educational system imposes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Authors 2013 

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.)

References

Arbon, V. (2008). Arlathirnda Ngurkarnda Ityirnda: Being-knowing-doing, de-colonising Indigenous tertiary education. Brisbane, Australia: Post Pressed.Google Scholar
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2012a). Measures of Australia's Progress: aspirations for our nation: a conversation with Australians about progress. Canberra, Australia: Author. Retrieved November 2012 from http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/E49E9DD90B4076C1CA257ABB000FBB94/$File/measures%20of%20australia%27s%20progress%20consultation%20report.pdfGoogle Scholar
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2012b). Measures of Australia's Progress 2012: Is life in Australia getting better? Canberra, Australia: Author.Google Scholar
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2011). NAPLAN achievement in reading, persuasive writing, language conventions and numeracy: National report for 2011. Sydney, Australia: Author. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu.au/_Documents/National%20Report/NAPLAN_2011_National_Report.pdfGoogle Scholar
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2012). The shape of the Australian curriculum (Version 3, May 2012). Sydney, Australia: Author. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/The_Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_V3.pdf.Google Scholar
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2011). National Professional Standards for Teachers. Melbourne, Australia: Author. Retrieved July 2012 from http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/static/docs/AITSL_National_Professional_Standards_for_Teachers_Final_110511.pdfGoogle Scholar
Bath, H. (2011, April). Disparity and disadvantage — The context for child protection in the Northern Territory. Paper presented at the NT Council of Social Services conference, Darwin, Austrlaia. Retrieved from http://www.ntcoss.org.au/sites/www.ntcoss.org.au/files/Disparity%20and%20disadvantage%20NTCOSS%20H%20Bath%20April%202011.pdfGoogle Scholar
Carr, D. (2009). Curriculum and the value of knowledge. In Siegel, H. (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 281299). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Carr, D. (2010). The philosophy of education and educational theory. In Bailey, R., McCarthy, C., Carr, D., & Barrow, R. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 3753). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chabbott, C., & Ramirez, F. (2000). Development and education. In Hallinan, M. (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of education (pp. 163187). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Coleman, J. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Bellknap Press.Google Scholar
Council of Australian Governments. (2009). National integrated strategy for closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. Retrieved from http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2009-07-02/docs/NIS_closing_the_gap.pdfGoogle Scholar
Counts, G. (1932). Dare the school: Build a new social order. New York: John Day Company.Google Scholar
Cowlishaw, G. (2012). Culture and the absurd: The means and meanings of Aboriginal identity in the time of cultural revivalism. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 18 (2), 397417. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9655.2012.01749.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Leo, J. (2012). Quality education for sustainable development: An educator handbook for integrating values, knowledge, skills and quality features of education for sustainable development in schooling. Adelaide, Australia: UNESCO APNIEVE Australia.Google Scholar
Devlin, B. (2011). A bilingial education policy issue: Biliteracy versus English-only literacy. In Purdie, N., Milgate, G., & Bell, H. (Eds.), Two way teaching and learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education (pp. 4970). Melbourne, Australia: ACER Press.Google Scholar
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi.Google Scholar
Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and education. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
Field, S., Kuczera, M., & Pont, B. (2007). No more failures: Ten steps to equity in education. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ford, M. (2012). Achievement gaps in Australia: What NAPLAN reveals about education inequality in Australia. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 123. doi:10.1080/13613324.2011.645570Google Scholar
Ford, P.L. (2010). Aboriginal knowledge narratives and country: Marri kunkimba putj putj marrideyan. Brisbane, Australia: Post Pressed.Google Scholar
Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum Publishing.Google Scholar
Gorringe, S. (2011). Honouring our strengths — Moving forward. Education in Rural Australia, 21 (1), 2137.Google Scholar
Grote, E., & Rochecouste, J. (2012). Language and the classroom setting. In Beresford, Q., Partington, G., & Gower, G. (Eds.), Reform and resistance in Aboriginal education (pp. 174201). Perth, Australia: University of Western Australia Press.Google Scholar
Hanushek, E.A., & Woessmann, L. (2007). The role of school improvement in economic development (NBER Working Paper No. 12832). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved September 2011 from http://www.nber.org/papers/w12832Google Scholar
Hanushek, E.A., & Woessmann, L. (2009). Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 14633.) Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jensen, B. (2012). Catching up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia. (Grattan Institute Report No. 2012-3, February 2012). Melbourne, Australia: The Grattan Institute. Retrieved September 2012 from http://grattan.edu.au/static/files/assets/00d8aaf4/130_report_learning_from_the_best_detail.pdfGoogle Scholar
Johns, G. (2006). Remote schools and the real economy. Canberra, Australia: The Menzies Research Centre. Retrieved July 2011 from http://www.mrcltd.org.au/research/indigenous-reports/remote_schools_aboriginal_education.pdfGoogle Scholar
Johnston, J. (2010). John Dewey and educational pragmatism. In Bailey, R., McCarthy, C., Carr, D., & Barrow, R. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 99110). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keeley, B. (2007). Human capital: How what you know shapes your life. Paris: OECD Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Langton, M. (Producer). (2012, September). Indigenous exceptionalism. Slow TV. Retrieved from http://www.themonthly.com.au/indigenous-exceptionalism-marcia-langton-6139Google Scholar
Leadbeater, C. (2012). Innovation in education: Lessons from pioneers around the world. Dohar: Qatar Foundation.Google Scholar
Lochner, L. (2011). Nonproduction benefits of education: Crime, health and good citizenship. In Hanushek, E.A., Machin, S.J., & Woessmann, L. (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of education (Vol. 4). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
Machin, S., Marie, O., & Vujić, S. (2011). The crime reducing effect of education. The Economic Journal, 121 (552), 463484. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02430.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, K. (2003). Ways of knowing, ways of being and ways of doing: A theoretical framework and methods for Indigenous re-search and Indigenist research. Journal of Australian Studies, 76, 203214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, K. (2008). Aboriginal worldview, knowledge and relatedness: Re-conceptualising Aboriginal schooling as a teaching-learning and research interface. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 12, 6678.Google Scholar
Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Melbourne, Australia: Curriculum Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdfGoogle Scholar
Mooney, C. (2000). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erickson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. St Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.Google Scholar
Nakata, M. (2008). Disciplining the savages, savaging the disciplines. Canberra, Australia: Aboriginal Studies Press.Google Scholar
Nakata, M., Nakata, V., Keech, S., & Bolt, R. (2012). Decolonial goals and pedagogies for Indigenous studies. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1 (1), 120140.Google Scholar
Noddings, N. (2012). Philosophy of education (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Westview Press.Google Scholar
Oreopoulos, P., & Salvanes, K.G. (2011). Priceless: The nonpecuniary benefits of schooling. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25 (1), 159184. doi:10.1257/089533011798837765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2012a). Better skills, better jobs, better lives: A strategic approach to skills policies. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved August 2012 from http://skills.oecd.org/documents/OECDSkillsStrategyFINALENG.pdfGoogle Scholar
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2012b). Equity and quality in education: Supporting disadvantaged students and schools. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved February 2012 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264130852-en.Google Scholar
Orlowski, P. (2011). Teaching about hegemony: Race, class and democracy in the 21st century. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Portelli, J., & Menashy, F. (2010). Individual and community aims of education. In Bailey, R., McCarthy, C., Carr, D., & Barrow, R. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 415433). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pring, R. (2010). The philosophy of education and educational practice. In Bailey, R., McCarthy, C., Carr, D., & Barrow, R. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 5566). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rigney, L.-I. (1999). Internationalization of an indigenous anticolonial cultural critique of research methodologies: A guide to indigenist research methodology and its principles. Wicazo Sa Review, 14 (2), 109121. doi:10.2307/1409555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ross, C.E., & Mirowsky, J. (2010). Why education is the key to socioeconomic differentials in health. In Bird, C., Conrad, P., Fremont, A., & Timmermans, S. (Eds.), Handbook of medical sociology (6th ed.). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
Rowse, T. (2010). Re-figuring ‘Indigenous culture’. In Altman, J. & Hinkson, M. (Eds.), Culture crisis: Anthropology and politics in Aboriginal Australia (pp. 153178). Sydney, Australia: UNSW Press.Google Scholar
Rowse, T. (2012). Rethinking social justice: From ‘peoples’ to ‘populations’. Canberra, Australia: Aboriginal Studies Press.Google Scholar
Schneider, B. (2000). Social systems and norms: A Coleman approach. In Hallinan, M. (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of education (pp. 365385). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Schuller, T., Preston, J., Hammond, C.B.-G.A., & Bynner, J. (2004). The benefits of learning: The impact of education on health, family life and social capital. Abingdon, UK: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar
Siegel, H. (2010). Knowledge and truth. In Bailey, R., McCarthy, C., Carr, D., & Barrow, R. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 283295). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, A. (1904). Inquiry into the nature and causes of wealth of nations (5th ed.). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations. (2012). National Education Agreement. Retrieved May 2013 from http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/npa/education/national-agreement.pdfGoogle Scholar
Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations. (2013). National Education Reform Agreement. Canberra, Australia: Council of Australian Governments. Retrieved from http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/other_related_agreements/current/National_Education_Reform_Agreement_2013.pdfGoogle Scholar
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. (2011a). Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: Key indicators 2011. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/111609/key-indicators-2011-report.pdfGoogle Scholar
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. (2011b). Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: Key indicators 2011, COAG targets and headline indicators: Attachment tables. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/111632/06-key-indicators-2011-chapter4-all.pdfGoogle Scholar
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. (2012). 2012 Indigenous expenditure report. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/119356/indigenous-expenditure-report-2012.pdfGoogle Scholar
Thomson, S., Bortoli, L.D., Nicholas, M., Hillman, K., & Buckley, S. (2011). Challenges for Australian education: Results from PISA 2009: The PISA 2009 assessment of students’ reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved January 2013 from http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/PISA-Report-2009.pdfGoogle Scholar
UNICEF, Save the Children (UK), and State of Qatar. (2010). The central role of education in the millenium development goals. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001905/190587e.pdfGoogle Scholar
Vass, G. (2012). ‘So, what is wrong with Indigenous Education?’ Perspective, position and power beyond a deficit discourse. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 41 (2), 8596. doi:10.1017/jie.2012.25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
What Works: The Work Program. (2012). Success in remote schools: A research study of eleven improving remote schools. Melbourne, Australia: National Curriculum Services.Google Scholar
Yunkaporta, T., & McGinty, S. (2009). Reclaiming Aboriginal knowledge at the cultural interface. Australian Educational Researcher, 36, 5572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Red Dirt Thinking on Educational Disadvantage
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Red Dirt Thinking on Educational Disadvantage
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Red Dirt Thinking on Educational Disadvantage
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *