Indigenous Imperatives in Navigating Language and Culture
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
Indigenous Australians at school have tended to respond to mainstream education with patterns of reluctant attendance, uneven attainment and early attrition. Despite a clearly expressed Indigenous aspiration for competent use of Standard English as an educational outcome, educational policies which have ignored Indigenous cultural and linguistic patterns have often met with a hostile or an indifferent response from Indigenous people. Bidialectal educational approaches developed in association with Indigenous consultants (Malcolm 1995; Malcolm et al 1999) use the home language (Aboriginal English) and its associated cultural and conceptual patterns as a means of developing bidialectal rather than only standard English competence. Some language-and-culture based principles which have emerged from this work are proposed here as “imperatives” which must be recognized if comprehensive literacy outcomes for Indigenous students are to be achieved.