We argued for CRP on the grounds of improving learning outcomes for Australian Indigenous students given there is a huge discrepancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student success at school, by any measure, which is an urgent international problem.
As well, in Australia, in the past decade there have been many schooling initiatives including Dare to Lead, What Works, Making it Count, Stronger Smarter, and the Cape York Institute, all with varied and uneven effects.[i] Research into the experiences of Indigenous students has too often focused on the problems, barriers and challenges teachers face and the need to improve teacher quality and pre-service teacher education.[ii]
But on a more hopeful tangent, there is growing body of evidence that culturally responsive pedagogies do improve academic success for First Nations peoples.[iii] Culturally responsive pedagogies for Indigenous students are now accepted as a hopeful strategy for improving academic achievement of First Peoples in settler colonial countries such as the USA, Canada, and New Zealand. By way of some important examples from an archive of international research literature across the settler colonial countries that focuses mainly on pedagogies that work with Indigenous students and that inform our framework are the following approaches: Gloria Ladson-Billings[iv] version of culturally responsive pedagogy for African-American communities; Villegas and Lucas[v] theory of the culturally responsive teacher; Kaupapa Maori researchers have developed a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations[vi]; The Alaskan Culturally Responsive Teacher Standards[vii]. Importantly, Castagno & Brayboy have provided a very comprehensive review of literature on culturally responsive mainly in the North American context, and Morrison et al[viii] have a review that locates Australian research in an international archive. There is some important work advancing CRP in teacher education in Australia.[ix][x]
Unfortunately little attention has been given to culturally responsive pedagogies in Australian public school classrooms and hence the theory and practice of culturally responsive pedagogies in Australia is only weakly developed, has had no significant peer evaluated reviews,[xi] and presently has a few productive advocates.[xii] This work has yet to seriously inform the curriculum and pedagogical reform projects of the state and federal jurisdictions. There is presently no substantial theoretically informed and empirically substantiated Australian version of culturally responsive pedagogy available to Australian educators working in schools, or those preparing new teachers. These different approaches provide an archive of conceptual resources for the participating teachers in our project.
Finally our rationale needed to work with the demographic fact that most Indigenous students attend government schools[xiii] in Australian cities and or large regional centres,[xiv] and hence any attempts to advance an Australian culturally responsive pedagogy has to work in urban public schools with predominately non-Indigenous teachers.
[ii] Craven, R. G., Halse, C., Marsh, H.W., Mooney, J., & Wilson-Miller, J. (2005) Teaching the teachers Aboriginal studies: Recent successful strategies, vols 1 & 2. Canberra, ACT: Department of Education, Science and Training, Commonwealth of Australia; Rigney, L-I. (2011a) Indigenous Education and Tomorrow’s Classroom: Three Questions, Three Answers. In N. Purdie, G. Milgate, & H. Rachel Bell, (Eds), Two Way Teaching and Learning; Toward Culturally Reflective and Relevant Education. Australian Council of Education Research. Australian Council for Education Research Press, Victoria. pp. 35-48; Rigney, L-I. (2011b) Social Inclusion in Education. In D. Bottrell & S. Goodwin (Eds), Schools, Communities and Social Inclusion, Victoria: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 38-49.
[iii] Castagno, A. & Brayboy, B. (2008) Culturally Responsive Schooling for Indigenous Youth. A Review of the Literature. Review of Educational Research. 78(4): 941–993.
[iv] Ladson-Billings, G. (1995) Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3): 465–491.
[v] Villegas, A. M. & Lucas, T. (2002a) Educating culturally responsive teachers: A coherent approach. Albany: SUNY Press; Villegas, A. M. & Lucas, T. (2002b) Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum Journal of Teacher Education 2002; 53(1): 20-32; Villegas, A., & Lucas, T. (2007). The culturally responsive teacher. Educational Leadership, 64(6): 28–33.
[vi] Bishop, R. Berryman, M. Cavanagh T. & Teddy, L. (2007) Te Kōtahitanga Phase 3: Whānaungatanga: Establishing a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations in Mainstream Secondary School Classrooms. The Ministry of Education, New Zealand.
[vii] Assembly of Alaska Native Educators (1999) Guidelines for Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers for Alaska’s Schools. Anchorage, Alaska. (http://ankn.uaf.edu/Publications/teacher.pdf (Accessed 12th March 2016); Swisher, K., & Deyhle, D. (1987) Styles of learning and learning of styles: Educational
conflicts for American Indian/Alaskan Native youth. Journal of Multilingual and
Multicultural Development, 8(4): 345-360.
[viii] Morrison, A., Rigney, I-L., Hattam, R. & Diplock, A. (2019) Toward an Australian culturally responsive pedagogy: A narrative review of the literature. University of South Australia. https://apo.org.au/node/262951.
[ix] Vass, G. (2017) Preparing for Culturally Responsive Schooling: Initial Teacher Educators Into the Fray, Journal of Teacher Education, 68(5): 451-462; Vass, G. (2018). ‘Aboriginal Learning Style’ and Culturally Responsive Schooling: Entangled, Entangling, and the Possibilities of Getting Disentangled. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 43(8).
[x] D’warte, J (2014) Exploring linguistic repertoires: Multiple language use and multimodal literacy activity in five classrooms. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(1), 21; D’warte, J (2016) Students as linguistic ethnographers: Super-diversity in the classroom context. In DR Cole & C Woodrow (eds) Super dimensions in globalisation and education (pp. 19-35). Singapore: Springer; D’warte, J (2018) Enhancing English learning: Building on linguistic and cultural repertoires in 3 school settings: A project report for NSW Department of Education 2018 (1741084792). Kingswood, NSW: Western Sydney University.
[xi] There are 2 in-house reviews not peer reviewed: Perso, T.F. (2012) Cultural Responsiveness and School Education: With particular focus on Australia’s First Peoples; A Review & Synthesis of the Literature. Menzies School of Health Research, Centre for Child Development and Education, Darwin; Krakouer, J. (2015) Literature review relating to the current context and discourse on Indigenous cultural awareness in the teaching space: Critical pedagogies and improving Indigenous learning outcomes through cultural responsiveness. Melbourne: ACER.
[xii] Sarra, C. (2007) Young, black and deadly: Strategies for improving outcomes for Indigenous students, in M. Keeffe & S. Carrington (eds), Schools and diversity (2nd edn), Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia, pp. 74–89; Yunkaporta, T. & McGinty, S. (2009) Reclaiming Aboriginal knowledge at the cultural interface. Australian Educational Researcher, 36 (2): 55-72; 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; Daniels-Meyers, S. (2016) Culturally responsive pedagogies of success: Improving educational outcomes for Australian Aboriginal students. PhD Thesis, University of South Australia; Nakata, M. (2011) Pathways for Indigenous Education in the Australian Curriculum Framework. Indigenous Education, 40, 1-8; Morris, C. (2017) Make it Count: responsive mathematics pedagogy with urban and regional Aboriginal learners. PhD Thesis, University of South Australia.
[xiii] ABS (2015) 4221.0 – Schools, Australia, 2015.
[xiv] ABS (2006) Population distribution, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.