Unpacking the 'Norm': The silent dominance of whiteness and its unexpected influences on equity and inclusion dilemmas

Year: 2012

Author: Rudolph, Sophie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In a policy climate purportedly concerned with equity and inclusion, it is widely acknowledged that there remains a significant 'gap' in educational achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students (Banks, 2009, de Bortoli and Thomson, 2010, Victorian Department of Education, 2008).  This paper investigates the persistence of Indigenous educational underachievement through critical analysis of key education policies and reports.  This analysis seeks to map the unexpected within equity and inclusion debates, with combined theoretical support from Critical Race Theory, Foucault and Iris Marion Young.  I argue that the findings of this research seem unexpected because of a dominant 'whiteness' that influences educational discourses despite overt claims and intentions towards equity. I assert that what is revealed through this critical reading can help to open up new ways of understanding and confronting issues of inequality, disadvantage and educational failure.  This conceptual shift impels us to look specifically at the power of whiteness and not just the 'disadvantage' or 'inclusion' of the 'Other', which in the Australian education context has been the dominant approach to addressing Indigenous education.

Key Words: Indigenous, equity, disadvantage, inclusion, whiteness, policy, Critical Race Theory, Foucault, Iris Marion Young.