Weaving the past into the present : Indigenous stories of education across generations

Parkes-Sandri, Robyn Amy (2013) Weaving the past into the present : Indigenous stories of education across generations. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In Queensland, there is little research that speaks to the historical experiences of schooling. Aboriginal education remains a part of the silenced history of Aboriginal people. This thesis presents stories of schooling from Aboriginal people across three generations of adult storytellers. Elders, grandparents, and young parents involved in an early childhood urban playgroup were included. Stories from the children attending the playgroup were also welcomed.

The research methodology involved narrative storywork. This is culturally appropriate because Aboriginal stories connect the past with the present. The conceptual framework for the research draws on decolonising theory. Typically, reports of Aboriginal schooling and outcomes position Aboriginal families and children within a deficit discourse. The issues and challenges faced by urban Murri families who have young children or children in school are largely unknown.

This research allowed Aboriginal families to participate in an engaged dialogue about their childhood and offered opportunities to tell their stories of education. Key research questions were: What was the reality of school for different generations of Indigenous people? What beliefs and values are held about mainstream education for Indigenous children? What ideas are communicated about school across generations? Narratives from five elders, five grandparents, and five (urban) mothers of young Indigenous children are presented. The elders offer testimony on their recollected experiences of schooling in a mission, a Yumba school (fringe-dwellers’ camp), and country schools. Their stories also speak to the need to pass as non-indigenous and act as “white”. The next generation of storytellers are the grandparents and they speak to their lives as “stolen children”. The final story tellers are the Murri parents. They speak to the current and recent past of education, as well as their family experiences as they parent young children who are about to enter school or who are in the early years of school.

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ID Code: 61010
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Berthelsen, Donna C.
Keywords: Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal education, Aboriginal families, decolonisation
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Jul 2013 06:52
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:47

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