Skip to main content

The logic of history in ‘gap’ discourse and related research

Abstract

The Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage policy emerged in 2008 following the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. The policy articulates one of its purposes as being to address historical injustices. On the other hand, policy reform is naturally oriented to the future in its aims to improve and develop. These temporal tensions are the analytical focus of this article. Through examining the way in which the logic of ‘history’ is engaged in Australian Indigenous policy and related ‘gap’-oriented research, a range of political effects are illuminated. It is argued that the logic of history is deployed in three key ways: (1) history as over; (2) history as a single presence; and (3) history as context. In mapping these different orientations to history in the policy and literature, the following questions are asked: how might history be better understood as operating in the present and what sort of transformational possibilities might this afford?

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Anderson, R. (2012). Indigenous students’ increasing risk of grade repetition in early schooling. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 41(2), 196–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Australian Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. (1999). National indigenous English literacy and numeracy strategy 2000–2004. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Australian Department of Employment, Education and Training. (1989). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education policy. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Training.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bedford, R., Callister, P., & Newell, J. (2010). Old gaps are closing, new gaps are opening. In I. Snyder & J. Nieuwenhuysen (Eds.), Closing the gap in education? Improving outcomes in southern world societies. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Beresford, Q., Partington, G., & Gower, G. (Eds.). (2012). Reform and resistance in Aboriginal education (Revised ed.). Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Birch, T. (1997). “Black armbands and white veils”: John Howard’s moral amnesia. Melbourne Historical Journal, 25, 8–16.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Blainey, G. (1993). Drawing up a balance sheet of our history. Quadrant, 37(7–8), 10–15.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Boon, H. J. (2008). Risk or resilience? What makes a difference? The Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 81–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brasche, I., & Harrington, I. (2012). Promoting teacher quality and continuity: Tackling the disadvantages of remote Indigenous schools in the Northern Territory. Australian Journal of Education, 56(2), 110–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Burridge, N., & Chodkiewicz, A. (2012). An historical overview of aboriginal education policies in the Australian context. In N. Burridge, F. Whalan, & K. Vaughan (Eds.), Indigenous education: A learning journey for teachers, schools and communities. Rotterdam: Sense.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  11. Campbell, C., & Proctor, H. (2014). A history of Australian schooling. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Commonwealth of Australia. (1995). National review of education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Final report. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Training.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cowlishaw, G. (2006). On “getting it wrong”: Collateral damage in the history wars. Australian Historical Studies, 37(127), 181–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Craven, R. (Ed.). (2011). Teaching Aboriginal studies (2nd ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Dodson, M. (2010). Challenges and opportunities in Australian indigenous education. In I. Snyder & J. Nieuwenhuysen (Eds.), Closing the gap in education? Improving outcomes in southern world societies. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ehrich, J., Wolgemuth, J. R., Helmer, J., Oteng, G., Lea, T., Bartlett, C., & Emmett, S. (2010). Attendance, performance and the acquisition of early literacy skills: A comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous school children. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 15(2), 131–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Faulkner, S., Ivery, P., Wood, L., & Donovan, R. (2010). Holyoake’s Drumbeat program: Music as a tool for social learning and improved educational outcomes. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 39, 98–109.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ford, M. (2013). Achievement gaps in Australia: What NAPLAN reveals about education inequality in Australia. Race Ethnicity and Education, 16(1), 80–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Freeman, L., & Bochner, S. (2008). Bridging the gap: Improving literacy outcomes for Indigenous students. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33, 9–16.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Gillborn, D. (2008). Coincidence or conspiracy? Whiteness, policy and the persistence of the Black/White achievement gap. Educational Review, 60(3), 229–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gray, J., & Beresford, Q. (2008). A “formidable challenge”: Australia’s quest for equity in Indigenous Education. Australian Journal of Education, 52, 197–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Guenther, J., Bat, M., & Osborne, S. (2013). Red dirt thinking on educational disadvantage. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 42(2), 100–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Gunstone, A. (2012). Indigenous education 1991–2000: Documents, outcomes and governments. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 41(02), 75–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Haebich, A. (2000). Broken circles: Fragmenting indigenous families, 1800–2000. Fremantle: Fremantle Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Harrison, N. (2004). The reproduction of historical relations in the crosscultural classroom at university. Australian Journal of Education, 48(3), 282–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Harrison, N. (2011). Teaching and learning in Aboriginal education (2nd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Herbert, J. (2012). Ceaselessly circling the centre. History of Education Review, 41(2), 91–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kerwin, D. W. (2011). When we become people with a history. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15, 249–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Koop, C., & Rose, D. (2008). Reading to learn in Murdi Paaki: Changing outcomes for Indigenous students. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 16(1), 41–46.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the achievement gap to the education debt: Understanding achievement in US schools. Educational Researcher, 35(7), 3–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Leigh, A., & Gong, X. (2009). Estimating cognitive gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Education Economics, 17(2), 239–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lester, J., & Munns, G. (2011). Closing the gap. In R. Craven (Ed.), Teaching Aboriginal studies (2nd ed., pp. 229–256). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lingard, B. (2011). Policy as numbers: Ac/counting for educational research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 355–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lingard, B., Creagh, S., & Vass, G. (2012). Education policy as numbers: Data categories and two Australian cases of misrecognition. Journal of Education Policy, 27(3), 315–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lyons, Z., & Janca, A. (2012). Indigenous children in Australia: Health, education and optimism for the future. Australian Journal of Education, 56(1), 5–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. MacIntyre, S., & Clark, A. (2003). The history wars. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Macoun, A., & Strakosch, E. (2013). The ethical demands of settler colonial theory. Settler Colonial Studies, 3(3–4), 426–443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Malin, M., & Maidment, D. (2003). Education, indigenous survival and well-being: Emerging ideas and programs. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 32, 85–95.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Maynard, J. (2003). Australian history: Lifting haze or descending fog? Aboriginal History, 27, 139–145.

    Google Scholar 

  40. McConaghy, C. (2000). Rethinking indigenous education: Culturalism, colonialism and the politics of knowing. Flaxton, QLD: Post Pressed.

    Google Scholar 

  41. McConney, A., Oliver, M., Woods-McConney, A., & Schibeci, R. (2011). Bridging the gap? A comparative, retrospective analysis of science literacy and interest in science for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian students. International Journal of Science Education, 33(14), 2017–2035.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. McLeod, J. (2012). Educating for “world-mindedness”: Cosmopolitanism, localism and schooling the adolescent citizen in interwar Australia. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 44(4), 339–359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. McLeod, J., & Wright, K. (2012). The promise of the new: Genealogies of youth, nation and educational reform in Australia. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 44(4), 283–293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Mellor, S., & Corrigan, M. (2004). The case for change: A review of contemporary research on Indigenous education outcomes. Camberwell, VIC: ACER Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Miller, M. G. (2015). Consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in early childhood education: The impact of colonial discourses. Australian Educational Researcher, 42, 549–565.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs. (2010). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education action plan 2010–2014. Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs.

  47. Moses, A. D. (2011). Official apologies, reconciliation, and settler colonialism: Australian indigenous alterity and political agency. Citizenship Studies, 15(02), 145–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Myers, K. (2015). Struggles for a past: Irish and Afro-Caribbean histories in England, 1951–2000. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  49. Nakata, M. (2007). Savaging the disciplines, disciplining the savages. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Partington, G. (Ed.). (1998). Perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. South Melbourne: Thomson Social Science Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Pascoe, B. (2011). History: The real gap between black and white. In G. C. Milgate, N. Purdie, & H. R. Bell (Eds.), Two way teaching and learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Camberwell, VIC: ACER Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Price, K. (Ed.). (2012). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: An introduction for the teaching profession. Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Prime Minister’s Office. (2015). Closing the gap: Prime Minister’s report 2015. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Prior, M. (2013). Language and literacy challenges for Indigenous children in Australia. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 18(2), 123–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Purdie, N., Milgate, G. C., & Bell, H. R. (Eds.). (2011). Two way teaching and learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Camberwell, VIC: ACER Press.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Rahman, K. (2013). Belonging and learning to belong in school: the implications of the hidden curriculum for Indigenous students. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(5), 660–672.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Reynolds, H. (1981). The other side of the frontier: Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia. Ringwood: Penguin Books.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Reynolds, H. (1989). Dispossession: Black Australians and white invaders. St Leonards, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Rios, V. (2012). Reframing the achievement gap. Contexts, 11(4), 8–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2010). Globalizing education policy. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Rowse, T., & Nile, R. (2005). Contesting assimilation. Perth: API Network.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Rudolph, S. (2013). Whiteness in education: How are notions of student and school success and improvement influenced by images of whiteness? In C. Behar & A. Chung (Eds.), Images of whiteness. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Stanner, W. E. H. (1991). After the dreaming. Crows Nest, NSW: ABC Enterprises for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Taylor, E. (2006). A critical race analysis of the achievement gap in the United States: Politics, reality, and hope. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 5(1), 71–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Taylor, A. (2010). Here and now: The attendance issue in Indigenous early childhood education. Journal of Education Policy, 25, 677–699.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Vass, G. (2014). The racialised educational landscape in Australia: Listening to the whispering elephant. Race Ethnicity and Education, 17(2), 176–201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Warren, E., & de Vries, E. (2009). Young Australian Indigenous students’ engagement with numeracy: Actions that assist to bridge the gap. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 53, 159–175.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Warren, E., deVries, E., & Cole, A. (2009). Closing the gap: Myths and truths behind subitisation. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 34(4), 46–53.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Weiss, G. (2001). Inter-disciplinary but not Undisciplined: Writing the history of Aboriginal “education”. Paedagogica Historica, 37(1), 251–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Wheldall, K., Beaman, R., & Langstaff, E. (2010). “Mind the gap”: Effective literacy instruction for Indigenous low-progress readers. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 34, 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

I acknowledge Julie McLeod for offering feedback on, and discussions related to, an early draft of this paper. And thanks also go to Luciana Pangrazio and Emma Buchanan for conversations related to an earlier version of this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sophie Rudolph.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rudolph, S. The logic of history in ‘gap’ discourse and related research. Aust. Educ. Res. 43, 437–451 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-016-0208-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Indigenous education
  • History
  • Politics
  • Policy
  • Discourse