Racial discriminatory views of Indigenous Australians are often the product of an individual’s upbringing. How might teachers’ challenge their own beliefs as well as provide opportunities for their students to think critically about this issue? In your answer discuss how recent events have increased the focus on disadvantage in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and how this has impacted on pedagogical and whole school interventions.
The notion that people are a product of their environment has significant implications for the ways in which such people view, understand and learn about the world. With regards to students, their upbringing (including both family and schooling environments) is one of the most influential and plays a crucial role in constructing student’s subjectivities. In this way sustaining the dominant power relationships that exist in society and perpetuating dominant social discourses (Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006, p.89). The resulting experiential knowledge acquired from parents and teachers through such an upbringing has major implications for the ways in which students filter information that ‘encompasses a variety of social, cultural, economic and symbolic meanings that shift across socio-economic class, ethnicity, gender, ‘race’, age and sexuality’ (Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006, p.82). Thus, the filtering of such meanings suggests that racially discriminatory views of Indigenous Australians are often the product of an individual’s upbringing. Recent events such as: the development of the Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP) in 1996, Cherbourg State School appointment of Chris Sarra as principal (1998), the Redfern Riots (February, 2004), the Mulan Community Shared Responsibility Agreement (March, 2005), the Noel Pearson Hope Vale community welfare agreement, and the Northern Territory Intervention (2007); has increased the focus on disadvantage in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. This increased focus not only impacts pedagogical and whole school interventions, but also has significant implications for the ways in which racially discriminatory views of Indigenous Australians are constructed. It becomes critically apparent that there is a major need for parents, teachers, and students to challenge their own beliefs and misconceptions and think critically about the racially discriminatory views they hold towards Indigenous Australians (Allard & Santoro, 2006; Birch, 2004; Chapelle, Chestermann, & Hill, 2009; Fielder, 2008; Gray & Beresford, 2008; Heitmeyer, 2004; Partington, 2003; Plevitz, 2007; Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006; Sarra, 2004;).
Robinson and Jones Diaz (2006) state, that “family is a critical site of social reconstruction” (p.93). Similarly, education is also a ‘powerful mediator in the shaping of ethnic, classed and gendered identities’ (Allard & Santoro, 2006, p.115). Thus family in conjunction with education, results in an upbringing that is influenced by both individual and social change and constitutes a dynamically unstable environment. Within these environments an ‘individual’s sense of belonging and identity can be affirmed on the one hand or dismissed and denied on the other’ (Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006, p.82). This is dependent upon whether or not the individual is part of the normalizing discourse that operates contingently upon the socially sanctioned ‘majority’ of Western societies. Dominant representations of what is successful, acceptable and appropriate within ‘homogenous, rigid and universally prescribed structures denies’ the diversity of individuals, ‘perpetuating the social, economic and legal inequalities experienced by individuals that are considered alternative to the majority (Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006, p.85). Hence, the socially constructed labels of Indigenous Australians as minorities or people who are considered significantly different to non-Indigenous Australians, results in a...
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