In 2011, three years on from the Apology given by Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations and coupled with the Federal Governments agenda to ‘close the gap’ in education for Aboriginal students, perhaps it is time to retrospectively look at the issues and challenges that have moulded the terrain of Aboriginal education in Western Australia. It is clear that over the last 200 years there has been progress in improving the access of schooling for many Aboriginal students. However the retention and successful completion of compulsory schooling still remain at unacceptable levels. It is these current performance levels that signpost that much is yet to be achieved in education for Indigenous students. Which leaves us to speculate if the terrain of Aboriginal education can be reshaped without addressing the very basics — 3Rs.
Given that historically many Indigenous students have underachieved in most aspects of their ‘western’ education then it stands to reason that the basic 3R concept of Reading, [W]riting and [A]rithmetic are inaccessible for many Indigenous students in their present form. Perhaps the most appropriate strategy today, in outcome-based education, and to assist with ‘closing the gap’, would be to reconceptualise the 3R concept into a more tangible form. We [educators] must find a format that ensures — and enables — all Aboriginal students to successfully access and complete all forms of their education.
This paper explores the Reconceptualising of the 3Rs in education. The discussion begins with a review of relevant historical and current literature, policies and practices regarding Indigenous education both before and after colonisation. From this, the paper then provides some initial ideas and discussion to move the dominant 3R paradigm from one that is Racist, Remedial and Ruinous to one built on Responsibility, Relationships and Respect.
Jackson-Barrett, E. M. (2011). The Context for Change: Reconceptualising the 3Rs in Education for Indigenous Students. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(12). https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2011v36n12.1