"Do I Beat 'Em or Join 'Em?" Individual and Collective Adaptations Leading to School Success Among Minority Group Students in Australia.

Year: 1999

Author: Munns, Geoff, Faulkner, Karen, McFadden, Mark, Simpson, Lee

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The symposium will consider school success among two very different minority groups in Australia. To do this it will draw on two research projects in progress. The first is looking at factors affecting retention and success among groups of Aboriginal Australian school students who are remaining at school in the post-compulsory years. The second is considering the polarisation of Vietnamese Australian secondary school students around associated points of school achievement and behaviour. On the face of it these groups seem to share very little in their relationships with education, schooling and Australian society, except they are both the most frequent targets of racist behaviour (Viviani, 1996). The symposium then takes up questions surrounding the nature and experiences of schooling for Australia's original inhabitants and owners in comparison to those of one of its most significant recent immigrant groups. These questions will be considered within frameworks developed by Ogbu (1992, 1999) which differentiate between adaptations to school, education and society among "involuntary minority" and "voluntary minority" groups.

The Symposium will operate on three levels. The first will establish a framework of beliefs, interpretations and adaptations to education among minority groups by utilising Ogbu's research. The second will draw on and illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the framework through a discussion of respective research into Aboriginal Australian and Vietnamese Australian secondary school students. The third will encourage participants to discuss and test the framework in light of both the presentations and their own research and experiences with education and minority groups. It is at this point in the symposium that, through understanding the responses to schooling of some Aboriginal and Vietnamese minority students, there may be a consideration of what works, fails and needs to be changed in the education of different minority groups in Australia. It is envisaged that the Symposium will allow for contribution and interaction within all three levels. As a result of the Symposium, a summary statement will be made available to all participants.