‘White’, ‘Ethnic’ and ‘Indigenous’. Pre-service teachers reflect on discourses of ethnicity in Australian culture

Hickling-Hudson, Anne R. (2005) ‘White’, ‘Ethnic’ and ‘Indigenous’. Pre-service teachers reflect on discourses of ethnicity in Australian culture. Policy Futures in Education, 3(4), pp. 340-358.


A cornerstone of my pedagogy as a teacher educator is to help students analyse how their culture and socialisation influence their role as teachers. In this paper, I share the reflections of my Australian students on their culture. As part of their coursework in a 4th Year B.Ed. elective subject, Cultural Diversity and Education, students reflect on and address questions of how they have been socialised to regard Anglo-Australian, Indigenous and non-British migrant cultures in their society. Some recall that their early conditioning cultivated a deep fear of Aborigines, and a tokenistic understanding of ethnicity. Others talk of their confusion between the pulls of assimilation into mainstream ‘whiteness’ and of maintaining a minority identity. This, combined with an often Anglocentric education, has left them with a problematic foundation with regard to becoming teachers who can overcome prejudice and discrimination in the classroom and the curriculum. My paper argues that in grappling with the negative legacies of neo-colonialism and its 'race' ideologies, teachers need as a first step to analyse discourses of ethnicity and how these discourses construct 'white', 'ethnic' and Indigenous Australians. This groundwork is necessary for the further steps of honouring the central role of Indigenous people in Australian culture, recognizing how interacting cultures restructure each other, contributing to initiatives for peace and reconciliation, and promoting the study of cultural diversity in the curriculum – all essential components of an intercultural pedagogy.

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ID Code: 3463
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Cultures in Australia, discourses of ethnicity, teacher education, student narratives, Eurocentric learning, cultural socialisation, racism, assimilation, postcolonialism, cultural diversity, multiculturalism
ISSN: 1478-2103
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Symposium Journals
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 01 Mar 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:16

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