From 'Silent Apartheid' to 'Cross-Curriculum Priority': Aboriginality in the School Texts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Under the White Australia policy Aboriginal representations were virtually absent or ridden with racial stereotypes informed by colonial ideology, which enacted what Mark Rose terms "silent apartheid" in the classroom. Confronting an increasing gap in academic performance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, scholars and educators have raised the alarm over educational inequality in Australia since the 1970s. During the last two decades, there has been a strategic shift of pedagogical schemes from individual modules of Aboriginal Studies to a comprehensive approach of incorporating Indigenous perspectives into school syllabuses and curricula, notably as a "cross-curriculum priority" in Australian Curriculum, which aims to cultivate both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in primary and secondary schools with a broader understanding of Indigenous cultural knowledge and values.
This paper intends to investigate the absence and presence of Indigenous perspectives in school education through a comparative study of Queensland School Reader issued in the 1930s and Indij Readers published between 2003 and 2012. The school texts provide a legible site to examine the pedagogical implications and operation of social ideologies of the day. Although there are still many difficulties to incorporate Aboriginal education in a western pedagogical paradigm, the paper argues that the efforts of promoting a valid recognition of Indigenous writers, artists and educators can be transformative to change the way in which cultural and racial relations are reproduced through education system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication世界格局中的澳大利亚:历史、现实与未来 = Australia in the World: Past, Present and Future
EditorsShusen Liu
Place of PublicationBeijing
PublisherPeking University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9787301320334
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event15th Biennial International Conference of Australian Studies in China - Peking University, Beijing, China
Duration: 8 Jul 201610 Jul 2016


Conference15th Biennial International Conference of Australian Studies in China


  • Aboriginal
  • education
  • western pedagogical paradigm
  • inequality
  • school readers


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