Postcolonial opportunities: community cultures in curriculum

Year: 2013

Author: Thompson, Ian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Anangu Tertiary Education Program (AnTEP) was established in 1984 as a structured program for Anangu Education Workers (AEWs) to provide formalised training, with the intent that many would become teachers in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands schools. My research is centred about improving the structure and operation of AnTEP in order to achieve an increased rate of progress through the program by aligning curriculum structure and delivery to the realities of the life on the APY Lands. Hence, the principal aim of my research is to examine how community practices and values on the APY Lands can be integrated into the development and delivery of an improved, dynamic AnTEP teaching program.
The research has three components. Firstly, a literature review to examine the history of colonisation on Anangu, including the impact Christianity has had on Anangu life, especially the dreaming, and processes of colonialism through state education. Second, is an analysis of policy related to AnTEP and contextualised by other state and national policy dealing with Aboriginal education. I am specifically interested in why, after thirty years, the program has not delivered the ‘untold advantages expected if Anangu schooling could be in the hands of Anangu? Educators on the APY lands have made commendable endeavours to accommodate Anangu culture, but the lack of success for Lands education in general remains an issue that needs unravelling. Third, is a case study that documents how three Anangu women negotiate the development of an AnTEP program that uses Anangu knowledge and values to improve curriculum design and delivery.
The essential theme is in the title. All schools should contextualize their position when structuring their curriculum and adapting it to the local situation. In terms of the APY Lands this adaptation needs to consider language, as the Anangu speak Pitjantjatjara as first language, the role of country and the dreaming, ways of understanding in mathematics, science and country. The study is a work in progress, adapting to the increase in personal understanding and in the response of Anangu to different pedagogical practices.