A Lost Conduit for Developing Transcultural Understandings: Changes in School Geography and the Australian Curriculum

Year: 2015

Author: Casinader, Niranjan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As exemplified by current global events, one educational imperative that has emerged from globalization is the increased importance of schools as a space for developing intercultural understandings within students. It is in schools that the ability to relate to and live with different life perspectives becomes more ‘real’ for students, as many experience incidences of racism and other forms of cultural conflict. However, recent research has also suggested that intercultural understanding is limited as a concept for the modern age, and that education should be focusing more on the development of transcultural understandings amongst young people. This is only possible if framed within curriculum that promotes the critical, futuristic evaluation of past and existing ideas.

Using the context and analysis of the new national curriculum in Geography being implemented in Australia, this paper argues that, in light of its intellectual past, the study of Geography in secondary schools should provide an ideal forum within which cultural learnings can occur. However changes in the conceptualisation of school-based geographical knowledge have prevented the discipline from enabling the use of a more holistic notion of culture that moves beyond the ethnographic, essential for the development of more powerful, transcultural attitudes amongst students. As such, school Geography today is a forgotten driver of cultural shifts that should be revived in support of the Australian Curriculum’s goal of cultural understandings.