Exploring the career experiences of Indigenous teachers beyond policy and resource initiatives

Year: 2004

Author: Santoro, Ninetta, Reid, Jo-Anne, McConaghy, Cathryn, Simpson, Lee

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In this paper we provide a contextualising account of a new four-year ARC study, Indigenous Teachers: Understanding their Professional Pathways and Career Experiences. The project has grown from our concerns about the low numbers of Indigenous teachers in schools and questions about why it is that of the few Indigenous teacher education students who graduate, many resign from teaching after short periods of time or never take up teaching positions at all.

We believe that the under representation of Indigenous teachers is due to what we are calling the 'impenetrability' of the dominant white culture of schooling, a racial imaginary that portrays the 'naturalness' of whiteness. Such an imaginary informs the everyday practices and relations of social power of Australian schooling from curriculum policy to the organisation of the school sports. Our research project is concerned with making visible the discourses of whiteness that shape the experiences and career pathways of Indigenous teachers. In this paper we draw on excerpts of data from a pilot interview with an indigenous teacher in order to begin to understand how discourses of whiteness have shaped her teaching and professional experiences.