Cultural Security in Australian Classrooms: Entanglements with Mainstream Education as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children Transition to School
In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attend formal early education at rates lower than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Research on factors influencing attendance and engagement in early childhood education has focused primarily on Indigenous children, families or community. In comparison, there is a dearth of research on the preparedness of mainstream educational contexts to receive Indigenous children and families, and to ensure cultural security via appropriate curricula and connections with community. To address this gap, Coffin’s (2007) model of cultural security is used to position mainstream educational contexts as responsible for ensuring that cultural needs are met for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. In this chapter, the authors juxtapose Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to school transition and share extracts from a yarning session with an Aboriginal educator and researcher who facilitated an Indigenous-led school transition program. The program attended to the needs of children, families and community via culturally meaningful engagement, curriculum content and pedagogies. The yarning about the school transition program and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s experiences of mainstream education highlights cultural entanglements between local traditions, protocols and curricula approaches, and mainstream schooling expectations.
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