Culturally Responsive Pedagogy on the APY Lands

Red Dirt Curriculum and Pedagogy: Sam Osborne and John Guenther

What is Red Dirt Curriculum and Pedagogy?

  • ‘Red dirt’ is a learning teaching practice metaphor for locally imagined aspirations for success that shifts the focus from deficit views of Aboriginal students, parents and communities as intractable problems to be overcome. Instead attention is shifted to the child as capable and intelligent.
  • Systems and strategies which fail to connect with the lived realities and values of people who live in places are changed to increase co-construction based on sharing power and control by ‘remote’ learners and stakeholders.

Red Dirt Questions:

  • What is education for Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) remote communities?
  • What defines ‘successful’ educational outcomes from the remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander standpoint?
  • How does teaching need to change in order to achieve ‘success’ as defined by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander standpoint?;
  • What would an effective education system in remote Australia look like?

Dr Sam Osborne

Dr Osborne has worked in Aboriginal Education since 1995 including Principal at Ernabella Anangu School in the remote north west of South Australia.  He worked in 2011-2015 as a Senior Research Fellow (UniSA) within the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP) on the Remote Education Systems (RES) project. Currenlty he is the Associate Director, Regional Engagement (APY Lands) coordinating UniSA’s Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Hub and Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Language and Culture programs. Sam’s current research focus includes Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, Aboriginal languages and remote Aboriginal education.

Associate Professor Guenther

Associate Professor Guenther has more than 20 years’ experience in remote parts of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. He is currently the Research Leader for Education and Training with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. He has published widely on ‘red dirt’ educational issues, including leadership, aspirations, teaching, attendance, pedagogies and in the process has worked to change the common deficit discourse of disadvantage and failure.


PDF 1 – Red Dirt Curriculum: Re-imagining Remote Education

PDF2 – Teachers guide to myths about remote Communities and schooling

Culturally Responsive Red Dirt Curriculum: Re-Imagining Remote Education

Culturally Responsive Pedagogies and the Muslim Learner:  A Professional Learning Opportunity for Educators Committed to Equity and Excellence.

Dr Sam Osborne

Red Dirt Curriculum

Dr John Guenther

Our Languages Matter, Kulinin? Reimagining remote education through Red Dirt Thinking

Dr Sam Osborne and Karina Lester

View Lectures

Guenther , J, and S Osborne. 2020. “Choice-less Choice for Rural Boarding Students and their Families.”  Australian and International Journal of Rural Education 30 (2):111-26.

Guenther , J. 2019. “Taken for a ride? How the education vehicle breaks down for First Nations people.” In EduResearch Matters. Australian Association for Research in Education.

Guenther, J. 2019. “Evidence on what doesn’t work for very remote schools (attendance strategies) and what does.” In EduResearch Matters. Australian Association for Research in Education.

Guenther, J, Melodie Bat, Anne Stephens, Janet Skewes, Bob Boughton, Frances Williamson, Sandra Wooltorton, Mel Marshall, and Anna Dwyer. 2017. “Enhancing training advantage for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners.” In. Adelaide: NCVER.

Guenther, J, T Benveniste, M Redman-MacLaren, D Mander, J McCalman, M O’Bryan, S Osborne, and R Stewart. 2020. “Thinking with theory as a policy evaluation tool: The case of boarding schools for remote First Nations students.”  Evaluation Journal of Australasia 20 (1):34-52.

Guenther, John, Kevin Lowe, Catherine Burgess, Greg Vass, and Nikki Moodie. 2019. “Factors contributing to educational outcomes for First Nations students from remote communities: A systematic review.”  Australian Educational Researcher 42 (Special issue. Aboriginal voices: Systematic reviews of indigenous education):319-40.

Guenther, J, and S Osborne. 2020. “Did DI do it? The impact of a programme designed to improve literacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in remote schools.”  The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 49 (2):163-70.

Wilks, J, A Dwyer, S Wooltorton, and J Guenther 2020. “‘We got a different way of learning.’ A message to the sector from Aboriginal students living and studying in remote communities.”  Australian Universities Review 62 (2):25-38.

Explore our resources