Teaching Beginning Teachers to ‘Think What We Are Doing’ in Indigenous Education
Kameniar, BM and Windsor, S and Sifa, S, Teaching Beginning Teachers to Think What We Are Doing' in Indigenous Education, Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 43, (2) pp. 113-120. ISSN 1326-0111 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Working with beginning teachers to assist them to begin to ‘think what we do’ (Arendt, 1998) in both mainstream and Indigenous education is problematic. This is particularly so because the majority of our teacher candidates, and indeed most of their university lecturers, are positioned close to the racial, social and cultural centre of Australian education. That is, teachers and teacher educators tend to be white, middle class, educationally successful, and accepting of the main premises and assumptions, purposes and values of formal schooling in Australia. This proximity to the centre can lead to an inability to question ideas and practices that, while everyday and seemingly innocuous, are frequently dangerous and destructive for those at the margins. In this article, we illustrate the normative power of hegemonic ideas by using aspects of the teen fiction The Hunger Games as an analogy for ‘thoughtless’ and unquestioning acceptance of authority. We then describe and discuss a pedagogic practice used within the Master of Teaching program at the Melbourne Graduate
School of Education. The practice is designed to challenge normative understandings about Australian history, teaching Indigenous Australian students, and to encourage engagement with the German-American Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt’s provocative question ‘What are we doing?’ (Arendt, 1998, p. 5). We conclude the article with a challenge to re-think current policies and practices in the education of Indigenous Australians.
indigenous education, beginner teachers, The Hunger Games, Hannah Arendt