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International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 251–266 | Cite as

New Directions in Intercultural Early Education in Australia

  • Melinda Miller
  • Anne Petriwskyj
Original Article

Abstract

Early education in Australia encompasses both early education and care (ECEC) and the early years of school. Educational approaches to cultural and linguistic diversity have varied not only by sector but also by jurisdiction based on distinct curriculum frameworks and policies. In Australian early education, provision for cultural and linguistic diversity has been framed largely by multicultural discourse, as defined by a complex history of progressive, yet often superficial reforms. Current initiatives serve to change this trajectory and the positioning of stakeholders. The incorporation of intercultural rather than multicultural approaches offers new possibilities for early education and directs attention to real challenges for ECEC. They re-position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Australians, and direct attention to both Australia’s social, cultural and linguistic diversity and to the role of early childhood educators in enacting more inclusive pedagogies. Challenges yet to be addressed include the cultural understanding of Australian early childhood educators, particularly those who identify as Anglo-Australian, deeper policy enactment in pedagogic practice and negotiation with diverse families and communities. This paper will address the historical and current policy contexts of intercultural early education in Australia, the development of intercultural initiatives, and emerging issues as national policies are introduced. The discussion draws on responses to intercultural early education in New Zealand and Canada to consider approaches to intercultural priorities in Australia. The paper will attend predominantly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives as a core element of change in Australian early childhood policy, focussing on ECEC.

Keywords

Cultural competence Indigenous Intercultural Critical 

Résumé

L’éducation de la petite enfance en Australie comprend à la fois l’éducation préscolaire et les services de garde ainsi que les premières années de l’école primaire. Les approches éducatives de la diversité culturelle et linguistique ont varié non seulement selon le secteur mais aussi selon la juridiction, sur la base d’orientations de programmes et de politiques différentes. Dans l’éducation australienne de la petite enfance, la réponse à la diversité culturelle et linguistique a principalement été structurée par le discours multiculturel et définie par une histoire complexe de réformes progressistes, mais souvent superficielles. Les initiatives actuelles ont pour but de modifier cette trajectoire ainsi que les positions des partis intéressés. L’inclusion d’approches interculturelles plutôt que multiculturelles offre de nouvelles possibilités pour l’éducation de la petite enfance et met en exergue de réels défis pour les services d’éducation et de garde. Ces approches rendent aux aborigènes et aux indigènes du détroit de Torres leur place de premiers australiens et dirigent l’attention tant sur la diversité sociale, culturelle et linguistique australienne que sur le rôle des éducateurs de la petite enfance dans la mise en place de pédagogies plus inclusives. Parmi les enjeux qui restent en suspens, on trouve la compréhension culturelle des éducateurs australiens de la petite enfance, en particulier de ceux qui s’identifient en tant qu’anglo-australiens, la mise en œuvre plus en profondeur de la politique dans la pratique pédagogique, ainsi que la négociation avec différentes familles et communautés. Cet article traite des contextes historiques et actuels de la politique de l’éducation interculturelle de la petite enfance en Australie, du développement des initiatives interculturelles et des problèmes émergeant avec l’introduction de politiques nationales. L’argumentation fait appel aux réponses apportées à l’éducation interculturelle de la petite enfance en Nouvelle-Zélande et au Canada pour envisager des approches aux priorités interculturelles en Australie. L’article s’intéresse surtout aux perspectives des aborigènes et des indigènes du détroit de Torres comme élément central du changement de la politique australienne de la petite enfance, en se concentrant sur les services d’éducation et de garde.

Resumen

La educacion inicial en Australia abarca tanto la Educación Inicial y Cuidado (EIYC), como los primeros años de la escuela. Los enfoques educativos en la diversidad cultural y lingüística han variado no solo por sector sino también por jurisdicción, basados en los distintos marcos y competencias de los currículum y las políticas. En Australia la provisión de la diversidad lingüística y cultural ha estado fuertemente marcada por el discurso multicultural definido como una compleja historia de reformas progresistas, a menudo superficiales. Las iniciativas actuales sirven para cambiar esta trayectoria y el posicionamiento de las partes interesadas (stakeholders). La incorporación de la interculturalidad en vez de los enfoques multiculturales ofrece nuevas posibilidades para la educación inicial, y dirige la atención a los desafíos reales en la EIYC. Se reposiciona a los Aborígenes e Isleños de Torres Strait como los Primeros australianos-as, canalizando la atención hacia la diversidad sociocultural y lingüística de Australia y al rol de los educadores-as en el sentido de establecer pedagogías más inclusivas. Entre los desafíos pendientes se incluyen una comprensión cultural de los educadores-as de infancia inicial australianos, especialmente aquellos que se identifican como anglo-australianos; la promulgación de políticas más profundas en la práctica pedagógica; y negociaciones con las diversas familias y comunidades. Este artículo abordará contextos políticos históricos y actuales de la educacion inicial intercultural en Australia, el desarrollo de iniciativas interculturales y los temas emergentes ante la introducción de políticas nacionales. El análisis está basado en reacciones a la educación inicial intercultural de Nueva Zelandia y Canadá, utilizándolas como posibles enfoques en las prioridades interculturales de Australia. Como elemento de cambio fundamental en las políticas australianas de educación inicial, este documento se ocupará mayormente de las perspectivas aborígenes e isleñas de Torres Strait, enfocándose en Educación Inicial y Cuidado (EIYC).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Early ChildhoodQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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