Classroom Management and Aboriginal Students

Document Type

Book Chapter


University of Western Australia Press


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




Partington, G. & Gray, J. (2003). Classroom management and aboriginal students. In Quentin Beresford and Gary Partington (Ed.), Reform and resistance in Aboriginal education : the Australian experience. (pp. 164-184). Available here.


One of the main reasons for the high rates of non-attendance of Aboriginal students at school is the correspondingly high rates of suspension and exclusion of these students as part of school discipline. In applying discipline procedures, many teachers display a combination of frustration and cultural ignorance, as illustrated by the teacher's comments in the following previously unpublished recording carried out by one of the authors: “I just don't know what you're going to do with these sort of kids. You must have something set out. You know ... that they're so difficult and it's really very sad because he's a bright lad, no doubt about that, I mean I reckon he's got quite a bit of talent there. He's not stupid at all. But whatever it is with him, if it's an emotional problem or whatever he's got, you need some sort of program that actually deals with it maybe ,just to get him to take some pride in himself or respect” (Teacher referring to an Aboriginal student). Classroom management, simply put, is the teacher's control of the class so that positive social relationships can exist and learning can ensue. In secondary schools. it is a teacher's most worrying issue, and it is the measure by which most teachers' competence in the profession is judged. Schools go to great lengths to ensure conformity among their student populations. Confronted by hundreds of ' students of similar ages, high schools in particular must ensure their compliance if they are to teach them.