Exploring praxis, practice and identity in case studies of Aboriginal teachers.

Year: 2018

Author: Golledge, Claire, Burgess, Cathie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper presents a discussion of case study research undertaken with Aboriginal teachers working in Australian schools, exploring the complex interplay between their Aboriginal identity, their understanding of educational praxis and their pedagogical practice. 
Using the theoretical lens of practice architectures (Grootenboer, Edwards-Grove & Choy, 2017; Kemmis, 2009) which frames teacher practice as dynamic, multidimensional and social in nature, we ‘map’ the various dimensions of teacher practice evident in each case study. The resulting analysis of these teachers’ work reveals commonalities in the way in which Aboriginal teachers navigate constraints on their teaching. We argue that for Aboriginal teachers, the social-political dimension of their practice is of paramount value, and is pivotal to them working to overcome the very real and significant challenges that they face within their school contexts. In depth interviews with teachers reveal a complex relationship between their experiences of intergenerational disadvantage, structural inequality and racism, and the formation of a clear sense of educational praxis firmly aligned with social justice principles. These case studies reveal how Aboriginal teachers navigate the often challenging and complex realities and expectations of being Aboriginal educators in schools (Santoro & Reid, 2006), and provide important recognition of diversity in the approaches of individual practitioners.