•  
  •  
 

DOI

10.14221/ajte.2013v38n2.6

Abstract

Schools have historically been a location of oppression for Indigenous students in Australian schools. Giroux (1992, p. 24) argues it is critical to create a democratic space inside schools and Aboriginal Community Education Officers (henceforward ACEOs) have been employed to achieve this goal. This paper explores the processes of democratising the school space by ACEOs through an Indigenous ethics of care framework. The enactment of Indigenous ethics of care between ACEOs and Indigenous students will be explored, with a particular focus on the use of the Nunga[1] room (Blanch, 2009, p. 66) as a ‘safe-house’ (Pratt, 1991). Pratt uses the safe house ‘to refer to social and intellectual spaces where groups can constitute themselves as horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared understandings, temporary protection from legacies of oppression’ (1991, 6). The paucity of Indigenous ethics of care theory and the role of ACEOs’ work in the Nunga room in education literature is problematic, as many non-Indigenous teachers continue to racialise Indigenous students through negative stereotypes. Qualitative data will be used to demonstrate the links between pedagogy, Indigenous ethics of care and the role of ACEOs to illustrate the need for greater recognition of this theoretical paradigm. This is critical information for teachers and pre-service teachers as it expands conceptualisations of social justice and its link to pedagogy. Contact zone theory will be used to explore the tensions of working and learning in schools that are shaped by institutional power relations that routinely lead to the misrecognition of Aboriginal students’ location as First Nations citizens.

[1] Nunga is a term used by Aboriginal people in some parts of South Australia to identify as a collective.

Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.14221/ajte.2013v38n2.6