07 SES 10 B, Teachers’ Professional Identities towards Diversity
This paper focuses on a project aimed at improving the educational and career opportunities of Indigenous Education Workers (IEWs) through the use of digital technologies with the ultimate aim of improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students. While the project focuses on Australian IEWs the findings have significance for Indigenous Education Workers the world over.
From the Sami of the far north of Europe and Russia to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia, Indigenous peoples have been subjected to discriminatory educational practices that have seen them oppressed and subjugated for centuries. There are many similarities in the ways in which Indigenous peoples have been discriminated against, including forced removal of children and the denial of first languages, cultures and knowledges. Unequal educational outcomes continue today, despite a plethora of programs and reports recommending strategies to overcome this injustice (Jacob & McConney, 2013, Song, Perry & McConney, 2014).
One way to redress this inequity has been to employ IEWs in schools. IEWs have been employed in Australian schools as early as the 1950s, initially to assist Indigenous students with literacy and numeracy (Harrison, 2011) but since then their roles have grown exponentially. These now include anything from working one-on-one with students, attendance, behavior management, developing cultural awareness programs, advising principals and acting as ‘cultural bridges’ between schools and communities.
Despite this enormous range of responsibilities IEWs are most often paid minimal wages, provided little training, have insecure employment and their positions are often undervalued. In previous research by the authors, IEWs have noted a lack of opportunities for relevant Professional Learning, being asked to respond to multiple requests without adequate time and in some instances a basic lack of trust (such as not even being allowed access to keys to storerooms (Walker, Price, Jackson-Barrett & Stomski, 2012).
In a series of hands on workshops, IEWs learned how to use iPads in their work and to ‘upskill’ their use of technology through the creation of digital stories. Exploration of their various roles has informed the development of modules for Pre Service Teacher education students to learn how to work more productively and respectfully with IEWs. The IEWs have also learned how to develop an ePortfolio so they can record their skills for future education and career opportunities, such as to support their transition to teacher education courses.
Given that Indigenous peoples are often regarded as the most researched (Smith, 1999, Gibbs 2000), a critical aspect of project is the need to address ethical issues when working in Indigenous communities. The project team presenters are Indigenous Academics with particular expertise in working with Indigenous communities. In Australia, ethical guidelines have been developed for the conduct of research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These current research guidelines have signaled changes to research practices in Indigenous research and a shift towards Indigenous ownership and control over research via reciprocal and partnership agreements with researchers. While these guidelines are helpful and have improved research practices involving Indigenous people in recent times, a number of ethical issues still arise, despite careful planning or, the best intentions. This can result from cultural insensitivities, misunderstandings, ‘technical errors’ and sometimes, ‘disregard’ and ‘neglect’ (NHMRC, 2007). Issues that need to be considered include obtaining consent from multiple sites and from afar, the wording of consent forms, use of passive consent, ownership of digital recordings and use of digital recordings involving deceased persons (Gower, 2012). Other critical issues include acknowledging and paying respects to Elders, Traditional Owners and Custodians, deep listening (Ungunmerr-Baumann, nd) and acknowledging different timeframes and community priorities (Jackson-Barrett, Price, Walker & Stomski, 2014, in press).
Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14. Gibbs, M. (2001). Toward a strategy for undertaking cross-cultural collaborative research. Society and Natural Resources. 14:673-687. Gower,G. (2012). Ethical research in Indigenous contexts and it’s practical implementation. International Conference:Innovative Research in a Changing and Challenging World. Conference Proceedings (B), 47-58, Tasmainia. Gravemeijer, K., & Cobb, P. (2006). Design research from a learning design perspective In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 17-51). London: Routledge. Harrison, N. (2011). Teaching and Learning in Aboriginal Education (2nd Ed.), Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Jorgensen, R. (2012). Using digital media to mediate learning in remote Aboriginal communities. In R. Jorgensen, P. Sullivan & P. Grootenboer (Eds.), Pedagogies to enhance learning for Indigenous students: Evidence-based practice (pp. 193-211). Singapore: Springer. Jackson-Barrett E., Price A., Walker B. & Stomski N. (2015) Grounded in ‘Country’: A starting point for researchers working within, alongside and for Aboriginal communities. Issues in Educational Research (in Press). Jacob L. & McConney. A. (2013). The Fitzroy Valley numeracy Project: Assessment of early changes in teachers' self-reported pedagogic content knowledge and classroom practice. Australian Journal of Teacher Education. 38:9 (94-115). NHMRC (2007) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Retrieved from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/e72 January 22, 2015. Reeves, T.C. (2006). Design research from a technology perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 52-66). London: Routledge. Song, S., Perry, L. & McConney, A. (2014). Explaining the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students: an analysis of PISA 2009 results for Australia and New Zealand. Educational Research and Evaluation. 20:3 ((178-198) Smith,L.T. (1999). Decolonising methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books. Ungunmerr-Baumann, M. (nd). Deep listening (Dadirri). Retrieved from http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/education/deep-listening-dadirri Walker, B., Price, A., Jackson-Barrett, E. & Stomski,N. (2012). A health and education needs analysis of Gumula Aboriginal Corporation members. (Report prepared for Gumula Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto) Retrieved from http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/9972/1/health_and_education_needs_analysis.pdf
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