Stolen generations: teaching about the experiences of trauma

Neil Harrison, Jackie Burke, Ivan Clarke

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    6 Citations (Scopus)
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    Stories from the Stolen Generations in Australia have formed an integral part of the curriculum in Australian schools for many years. Teachers in both primary and secondary schools are required to include this 'difficult knowledge' in their programs. But most teachers do not have the skills or the training to teach about the experiences of trauma, or to recognise the impact that these experiences may have on their students. Current approaches to teaching about trauma in schools has produced what Judith Butler (2004) calls "derealisation of loss", where humanity is evacuated through the historical images and YouTube videos that are shown to students. We argue that the experiences of the Stolen Generations cannot be captured through representation, or through logical and reasoned explanations of history. We leverage the concept of affect as a frame for conceptualising how to teach about the experiences of trauma. Our aim is to develop a trauma informed pedagogy that is able to assist teachers to teach about trauma in schools, and the paper explains how this is being developed through a trial with preservice teachers enrolled at a university in Sydney, Australia. The trial has been running for two years and functions as a forerunner to developing trauma informed principles for use by teachers in primary and secondary schools.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-63
    Number of pages13
    JournalKnowledge Cultures
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Previously published as "Representing trauma in the curriculum: Coming to terms with the substance and significance of the Stolen Generations" (2016) in Proceedings AARE, 1-16.

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • trauma
    • affect
    • trauma-informed teaching
    • stolen generation


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