Is it realistic to integrate Asia-related capabilities into all curriculum areas? Case studies of Asia-literate teachers in Australian primary schools

Year: 2012

Author: Cloonan, Anne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The Asia-related pedagogical practices of Australian primary school teachers are likely to become increasingly scrutinised, situated as they are at the intersection of two Asia literacy policies which are growing in intensity, the positioning of Australia for the 'Asian' century (White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century) and the designation of 'Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia' as a mandatory, cross curriculum priority to be embedded in all curriculum learning areas (ACARA).

For some teachers already committed to developing their students' Asia-related capacities, the imprimatur of the policy documents has recently thrown a spotlight on their practices. This paper draws on a purposive sample of 'exemplary' Australian primary school teachers of Asia literacy in order to gain an understanding of what constitutes Asia-literate teachers and what pedagogical practices such teachers might operationalise to support students' Asia-related learning.

Of interest are the breadth, depth and variety of pedagogical forms that embedding of the cross-curriculum priority might take, and the influences which decide their form. Planning for and implementing curriculum and pedagogy and assessing student learning are contextualised in school environments and designed to respond to the particular needs of students from local communities. The breadth and depth of the embedding of studies of 'Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia' across curriculum areas is influenced by each school's environment; by teachers' own backgrounds, values and beliefs and knowledge including professional learning and cultural experiences; as well as by resources understood in broad terms which include contacts, texts, artefacts, communication means, cultural institutions and community resources.

While the sharing of such 'exemplary' practices will no doubt be useful in informing the knowledge and capacities of the profession, in so doing it is worth considering whether it is realistic for schools and teachers to integrate Asia-related capabilities into all curriculum areas. It is also worth considering the ways in which such 'exemplary' practices might be used to influence other schools - given the centrality of local priorities and context and the importance of values and beliefs in embedding the cross-curriculum priority into curriculum areas. A final area of reflection is the use of such representations of teacher practice as evidence of teacher professionalism.