Year: 2017

Author: Ma Rhea, Zane

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will discuss the politics of bringing Indigenous 'rights-in-education' into initial teacher education. Using the tools of case study analysis and policy ethnography, the paper will critically examine the response in one institution to the Indigenous rights-in-education agenda emerging from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) No.169 (1989). A critical, interpretative methodological approach was used to investigate the central question examined in this paper: 'What are the strengths and limitations of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4 in guiding the inclusion of an Indigenous rights-in-education approach in initial teacher education programs?'
I have employed 'policy ethnography' methods in this paper to both collect and analyse data, using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) policy rather than the teacher educators, students, or Indigenous people as the focus of study. In this way, the methods I use allow me to examine how the policy presence of APST Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4 are ethnographically 'lived on the ground' in an initial teacher education program (Ma Rhea, 2011, 2015). As Tellis (1997: 2) observes, 'Case studies are multi-perspectival analyses. This means that the researcher considers not just the voice and perspective of the actors, but also of the relevant groups of actors and the interaction between them' (see, also, Cohen and Manion, 1994; Gall et al., 1996; Merriam, 1999, Stake, 1994, and Yin, 1994, 2009).
To this end, the paper will interrogate a small section of data, the formative and summative assessment of student learning through analysis of 10 years of assignment data, examining how these data provide evidence of the efficacy or not of APST Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4. The findings of the analysis suggest that if a foundational Indigenous 'rights-in-education' stance is taken by teacher educators then it is possible to glimpse the emergence of a postcolonial pedagogy in the teaching of an Indigenous Education subject within an Initial Teacher Education program. Conversely, data suggests that the guidance of a policy is only as effective as the skills and knowledge of teacher educators and that without an underlying commitment to an Indigenous rights perspective that the aspirations of APST Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4 easily slide into the broader multicultural policy framework so favoured by those who oppose the Indigenous 'rights-in-education' position.