Title

Aliwa! A reimagined journey: A stage play and exploring a Nyoongar theatre text with pre-service teachers: An exegesis

Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated)

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Julia Morris

Second Advisor

Lyndall Adams

Third Advisor

Colleen Hayward

Fourth Advisor

Rick Brayford

Abstract

Australia is home to one of the oldest continuous living cultures in the world. Now, more so than ever before, government and educational bodies are recognising the importance of integrating Indigenous cultures in education as a means of promoting intercultural understanding and improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students. The Australian Curriculum has advocated that Indigenous histories and cultures be embedded into every subject rather than taught separately. Drama is a curriculum area that provides many opportunities to integrate learning about Indigenous perspectives by exploring historically and culturally rich Indigenous theatre texts. Research is showing that non-Indigenous teachers are avoiding this content due to questions surrounding permission and a fear of cultural misappropriation. Further, a pilot study indicated that pre-service drama teachers are entering their profession feeling ill equipped to achieve this curriculum directive due to a lack of specific training in this area. Therefore, this a/r/tographical research involved a creative project that included mounting an ensemble performance of Aliwa! by Dallas Winmar—a Nyoongar play—by pre-service drama teacher participants. The project was guided by findings from interviews with leading Indigenous theatre makers and collaboration with a Nyoongar artist. A culturally responsive and respectful framework for exploring Indigenous theatre in drama was established. The findings from this study attest to the important need for pre-service teachers to undergo transformational and experiential learning about Indigenous ways of knowing; learning that helps them teach at the cultural interface and provides the critical skills necessary to respectfully navigate contested knowledge spaces. This work makes a compelling case for initial teacher education to yield culturally connected teachers with the expertise to develop curricula that prioritise Indigenous perspectives and knowledge as a vital step towards decolonising education.

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