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On country learning: Towards a culturally responsive pedagogy for Aboriginal education

Jackson-Barrett, Elizabeth MareeORCID: 0000-0002-3662-657X (2021) On country learning: Towards a culturally responsive pedagogy for Aboriginal education. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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On Country Learning (OCL) is a culturally responsive pedagogy which aims to support Aboriginal students, their peers, teachers, schools and families to engage with Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The OCL approach is firmly grounded in Country and has as its fundamental principles: Respect for Aboriginal epistemologies, ontologies and spiritualities, Responsibility for Aboriginal student learning, the building of genuine Relationships, and Recognition that Australia is and always will be Aboriginal land. This thesis presents deep learnings from three OCL school-based programmes conducted by the researcher in several regional and remote locations in Western Australia, including on Nyungar Boodjar and the Gascoyne. Collectively, the research demonstrates the benefits of OCL as a place-based, transformative and culturally responsive pedagogy. It builds on the strengths of Aboriginal students, their families and communities and in doing so speaks back to deficit colonialist discourses about Aboriginal people, cultures and histories.

Culturally responsive pedagogy (CPR) is illustrated in this thesis through the structure of a Boorn (Tree). The Bworr (Roots), Kwola (Trunk) and Boorn (Canopy) each represent different parts of the pedagogical process. The process begins with the Bworr, the foundations derived from Boodjar (land), where the fundamental Aboriginal protocols of Country lie. The rings of the Kwola represents the interconnected tensions that exist at the Cultural Interface (CI) of the classroom. Within the Boorn are the pedagogical approaches that nurture and are nurtured by the strong Kwola and Bworr. While this process is represented in a linear way in this thesis the parts are necessarily interdependent and complex. Importantly, it is the Bworr, the protocols of Country, that cannot be forgotten, ignored or negated for these privilege Aboriginal knowledge and ways of knowing, being and doing. For you see, this continent always was, always will be Aboriginal land – kura, yeye, boorda (past, present and future).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Supervisor(s): Price, Anne, Down, Barry and Fernandes-Satar, Audrey
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