A Reader- Foreword by Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw
Edited By George J. Sefa Dei
4. Indigenous Education and Indigenous Studies in the Australian Academy: Assimilationism, Critical Pedagogy, Dominant Culture Learners and Indigenous Knowledges Marcelle Cross-Townsend 68
Currently, gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in key areas of education,such as access, retention, completion rates, and employment outcomes continue to be highlight- ed as enduring, long-term critical concerns in national and state education policies as well as many policy reviews and research analyses (see, for example, Bradley, Noonan, Nugent, & Scales, 2008; DEEWR, 2005, 2006; IHEAC, 2006; Storry, 2007). These issues are historical and current at once, having persisted for as long as Indigenous Australian (“Indigenous”) people have engaged, either willingly or by coercion, in Western style, or “dominant culture” education since the early nineteenth century (Beresford & Partington, 2003, p. 41). Equally persistent, historical and current are the atti- tudes, approaches, theories, education policies, and initiatives employed by government, educators, and researchers to address Indigenous educational disparity. In particular the socio-political ideology of “assimilationism” has been prominent in social and political discourse throughout the continuing colonial project of “civilizing” and “educating” Indigenous Australian peoples, referred to here as “Indigenous Education” (McConaghy , 2000, p. 151). Assimilationist assumptions posit Indigenous peoples, their knowledges, and practices as inferior to Western peoples, knowledges, and practices. Indigenous people’s survival is perceived to be dependent on wholesale assimilation into the dominant or “superior” culture and language, where the economic and social dominant culture objectives of education override any Indigenous cultural, linguistic, social, or human rights imperatives (McConaghy , 2000, pp. 186–187). Assimilationism has been similarly influential in Australia and elsewhere through research and pub- lic education about Indigenous Australian peoples, referred to here as...
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