Research as dialogue and cross cultural consultations: Confronting relations of power

Year: 2001

Author: Sanderson, Von, Allard, Andrea

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The ‘rescuing’ of Indigenous children (from their communities) through education, and the notions of assimilation associated with that, is an aspect of colonialism that has persisted into the so-called 'post-colonial' era. Recent national policy statements (eg. MCEETYA, 2000; NBEET, 1995) argue the importance of education/research that keeps the locus of control within the Aboriginal community as a means to further the goal of self-determination and improve educational outcomes. In this paper, we report on the initial stage of a small empirical research project, Engaging Aboriginal Students In Education Through Community Empowerment. ‘Research as dialogue' was a guiding principal and a primary aim was to listen actively to all key stake holders in the remote community setting, particularly to Indigenous parents, teachers and service providers, in order to identify current strengths and concerns regarding the provision of culturally inclusive schooling; and then, to develop, on the basis of these consultations and in collaboration, community-based education projects that engage non-attending Aboriginal students. In this paper, we critically analyse the difficulties as well as potential strengths of trying to form collaborative partnerships as researchers, across cultural differences and with diverse community groups. For example, what does ‘acknowledging' very different cultural perspectives actually mean to/in this kind of research process? The ways in which relations of power amongst all parties are played out in/through such an approach is also opened up for scrutiny and further discussion.