Construction Of ‘Whiteness’: Race, Culture And ‘Other’ In Australian Curriculum: Health And Physical Education PE

Year: 2015

Author: Garrett, Robyne, Wrench, Alison

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Educational policies are concerned with the government, and hence, care, management, discipline and regulation of individuals and school populations. They embody responses to perceived societal problematics, and give evidence of the ways in which things become thinkable and feasible. Within the (post)-colonial Australian context, we are interested in the ways in which educational policies work to communicate particular cultural narratives and understandings about ‘race’, ‘culture’ and ‘whiteness’. Our particular focus is the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (AC: HPE). Whilst AC: HPE incorporates cross curricular perspectives in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures as well as engagement with Asia, it is less clear how these perspectives have been embedded in specific curriculum content. In attempting to understand how AC: HPE has been constructed and might be interpreted we will, in this paper, also explore earlier health and physical education materials that have generated and reinforced classifications, exclusions and normalisations in relation to race, culture and ‘whiteness’ in the Australian context. To do so, we draw on Foucault’s theorisation of ‘problematisations’, discourses, disciplinary power and bio-power to explore continuities, disruptions and eruptions of particular modes of reasoning around race’, ‘culture’ and ‘whiteness’ as these have informed educational policies, practices and understandings around physical and health education. We bring our analysis of AC: HPE into dialogue with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Professional Knowledge standards for teachers as these relate to teaching ATSI students and those from diverse cultural backgrounds. We conclude by raising implications for pre-service and in-service teacher education in HPE, and reinforce the necessity of moving beyond the construction of ‘otherness’ in relation to a white norm.