Pre-schoolers encountering new and unexpected meanings of Australian Aboriginality

Year: 2021

Author: Gelding, Kathy

Type of paper: Pre-Recorded Individual Paper

Pre-recorded video link: Early Years Learning Framework: Belonging, Being and Becoming (Department Education Employment Workplace Relations 2009) guides Australian early childhood educators to implement educational programs that includes diverse examples of identities and cultures. Despite this, many educators continue to provide programs and practice that perpetuate colonialist stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples and cultures.My PhD research is examining Australian early childhood educators’ and children’s understanding of Australian Aboriginality through engaging with contemporary Aboriginal art. Using qualitative methods, this research explores two early childhood mainstream settings and what happened when both educators and children engaged with artists from the desert whose practice re-conceptualises Country, culture and identity in playful, innovative and ingenious ways.Applying Whiteness and Feminist theory (hooks, 2003,2004; Moreton-Robinson, 2004), I will present data stories that illuminate the persistent Aboriginal art is dot art produced by ‘real’ Aboriginals living the desert discourse and the confusion for children when they engaged with a new and evolving desert art discourse that featured popular superhero culture, not the familiar dots. The key findings indicate that young children have minimal knowledge about Aboriginality yet have detailed knowledge about the powerful white narratives that shape their belonging, being and becoming.This research will lead to recommendations for educator confidence, change and recognition of socially-just practice when privileging authentic Aboriginality into early childhood educational programs and practices.Department Education Employment Workplace Relations. (2009). Early Years Learning Framework: belonging, being and becoming. Barton ACT: Commonwealth of Australia Retrieved from, b. (2003). Teaching Community: A pedagogy of Hope. New York | London: Routledge. hooks, b. (2004). We real cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York and London: Routledge. Moreton-Robinson, A. (2004). Whiteness, epistemology and Indigenous representation In A. Moreton-Robinson (Ed.), Whitening race: essays in social and cultural criticism (pp. 75-88). Canberra ACT: Aboriginal Studies Press.