Chair: Julie Matthews, University of Sunshine Coast
In the current era of schooling, performance orientated agendas sit alongside mandates for a positive response to social, cultural and linguistic diversity. Recent research undertaken with a group of 20 preservice primary teachers from a Queensland University found that despite the performance orientated agendas, all of the interview participants had a well-placed commitment to teaching for social justice. Eighteen of these participants were, however, yet to construct diversity as a resource for teaching and learning (Exley, Woods, Walker & Brownlee, under review). In an attempt to support the preservice teaching cohort more generally with meeting the demands of these disparate agendas, an opportunity presented itself whereby preservice teachers could volunteer to become part of an after-school Indigenous Homework Hub. The Homework Hub, named the 'Dream Circle' (pseudonym), is a space 'designed by and operated through Indigenous educator footprints as a safe space for the school's Deadly Jarjums (Indigenous children)' (Davis-Warra, Dooley & Exley, 2011, p. 19). Using a 'kinnected methodology' that draws on the rich vein of Murri cultural knowledges and Torres Strait Islander supports, the 'Dream Circle' 'embodies practices and ritualises processes to ensure cultural safety and integrity' (Davis-Warra, Dooley & Exley, 2011, p. 19). Five preservice teachers became weekly volunteers over a semester long period. None of them were Indigenous, but they were all keen to 'make a difference' to the Indigenous students' learning outcomes. They each participated in a series of semi-structured interviews where reflections on their experiences as Homework Hub volunteers and their thinking about the topic of educational disadvantage and strategies to address educational inequality in a globally connected, digital world were discussed. This paper examines their interview talk to mark the challenges and shifts in their thinking about the three Rs of educational equity - redistribution, recognition and reconciliation - during their involvement with the Homework Hub.
Davis-Warra, J., Dooley, K. & Exley, B. (2011) Reflecting on the 'Dream Circle': Urban Indigenous education processes designed for student and community empowerment. QTU Professional Magazine, 26, 19-21.
Exley, B., Woods, A., Walker, S. & Brownlee, J. (under review). Performance Orientations and Social Justice Agendas in Literacy Teaching: An Interview-based Study with Primary Preservice Teachers.