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Ian Malcolm
A Bird’s Eye View of Practices and Policies
Since 1788

   1. Laissez-faire 1788-1870s
   2. Restriction 1880s-1930s
   3. Assimilation 1930s-1960s
   4. Integration 1960s-1980s
   5. Multiculturalism 1980s-1990s
   6. Regulation / Accountability from 1990s
   (modified from Leitner, 2004, drawing on Clyne 1991, 2001 and Lo Bianco 2001)
Laissez-faire 1788 – 1870s
   isolated, uncoordinated provisions
   some attempts at educating children to be of
    service to white settlers
   some Indigenous people, separated from their
    people, learned standard English
   independently of formal education, NSW Pidgin
    (forerunner of Aboriginal English & Kriol) was
Restriction 1880s – 1930s
   “Protection” as a means of guardianship or control
   Students could be excluded from public education for:
        “infectious or contagious disease” or being “injurious to
        the health and welfare of other children” (Mounsey
   Many children categorised, e.g., “half-caste,” and sent
    to missions
   Low expectations: “The prognosis of school inspectors
    was that, because of their limited mastery of English
    literacy and numeracy, Aborigines were educable only
    to the fourth and fifth grade” (Mounsey 1979:399)
Assimilation 1930s – 1960s

   Re-admission to public education

   No provision made for home language or dialect

   “Sink or swim”

   Research into Aboriginal English begins in
Integration 1960s – 1980s
   Commonwealth Government involvement in Aboriginal
    Education (following 1967 referendum)
   Bilingual education in Aboriginal communities in NT from
   First joint policy statement on Aboriginal education 1973
   Aboriginal learners seen as “disadvantaged”
   Increased funding of Aboriginal language education and
   Emergence of the concept of ‘two-way’ bilingual education
Multiculturalism 1980s – 1990s

   Recognition of Aboriginal languages, creoles and Aboriginal
    English in National language Policy
   National Aboriginal Languages Program (NALP) 1989-
   Aboriginal Education Program (AEP) 1989-
   Regional Aboriginal Language Centres across the country
   Australian Indigenous Languages Framework (SABSA 1996)
   ‘two-way’ education applied to ES(A)D learners (from 1994 in
Regulation / Accountability from 1990s
   Languages as an economic resource
   Re-emphasis on English as “Australia’s Language” (Dawkins, 1991)
   Growing focus on (SAE) literacy (Christie 2004:24-5)
   Strengthening “English-only” movement in the U.S.
   Focus on direct learning and scaffolding of SAE with Aboriginal
    learners (Rose et al 1999)
   Resources moved from NT bilingual education to ESL (1998)
   Proposal of daily initial 4 hours of English in NT Aboriginal Schools
   National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) (2008)
   National Curriculum (currently in preparation for 2011)
Some Assumptions About Indigenous English
Learners & their Implications

   1. Social Darwinism

   2. Cultural Imperialism

   3. Cultural Deprivation

   4. Cultural Relativism

   5. Critical Theory
Social Darwinism,
 leading to the views that…

   Aboriginal people will not survive

   High levels of educational attainment are not

    possible for them

   They should be left alone or given busy work
Cultural Imperialism,
leading to the views that…

   Education should replace the Indigenous culture with a
    ‘civilized’ culture
   Indigenous languages are a hindrance to education and
    should be eradicated
   It is necessary to separate Aboriginal children from
    their families to educate them
   We should teach Indigenous students the same way as
    any others and require the same outcomes
Cultural Deprivation,
leading to the views that…

   Indigenous children’s culture is deficient for
    educational purposes
   Indigenous children’s language needs to be
   We need to provide compensatory programs to
    help Indigenous students catch up
Cultural Relativism,
leading to the views that…

   School language and literacy should be founded on a description
    of the language of the learner and a contrasting of its features with
    those of SAE
   School English and Aboriginal English are simply different: neither is
   We need to accommodate to the language and culture of the
   The language of the learner has a legitimate place in the classroom
   Initial literacy is best acquired in the first language
   Supporting learner identity is fundamental to learning
Critical Theory,
leading to the views that…

   Education should help students to improve their
    place in society

   Literacy in SAE is the key to this

   The school’s focus should be on SAE, not home
    language or cultural identity
Some Questions Relating to
Assessment of ES(A)L/ES(A)D
   1. How should English be defined for purposes of assessment?
   2. What should be the language/s of assessment?
       SAE only?
       SAE and the Indigenous variety?
   3. What should be the assumed cultural content of testing?
       Anglo-Australian?
       Aboriginal Australian?
       Neither?
       Both?
   4. How should tests be administered?
       The same way for all?
       With appropriate accommodation to the Indigenous learner?
   5. How should test results be interpreted?
       The same way for all?
       With appropriate accommodation to the Indigenous learner?
Some Issues to Resolve

   1. Majoritarianism

   2. The Push-Pull Factor

   3. Test Anxiety and Resistance

   4. Linguistic Homogenization & Standard Literacy

   5. Students With Multiple Identity

   Should the majority rule in matters where minority
    needs are different?

   Should the “monolingual mindset” (Clyne 2008)
    prevail because the majority holds it?
   (I have taken the term ‘Majoritarianism’ from Megan Davis, 2008)
The Push-Pull Factor

   Indigenous Australians (like African Americans) have
    “a simultaneous push towards gaining proficiency in
    standard English as the language of access to
    power, and a pull away from it for fear of sounding
    or acting white” (Smitherman 1977).
   How can we respond appropriately to both?
Indigenous Students’ Test Anxiety and

   “From all the comments in the consultations (whether
    from community members, AIEOs or students
    themselves), the overwhelming impression was that
    assessment was a negative experience for them”
    (WA Aboriginal Education & Training Council 2003:4).

   How can we make assessment positive for
    Indigenous students?
Linguistic Homogenization and
Standard Literacy

   Policies of linguistic homogenization (Hussein 2008),
    and literacy in the standard language (Christie
    2004:24) can give governments licence to gain
    tighter control over education processes in the
    interests of dominant groups, but are they in the
    interests of equity and harmony?
Multiple Identity

   How can language education and assessment meet
    the needs of groups whose “identities are multiply
    positioned”? (Nero 2005)

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