What are the personal attributes a teacher needs to engage Indigenous students effectively in the learning process? Re-viewing the literature

Michelle Bishop*, Tracy L. Durksen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Teachers have the potential to make an enormous positive impact on the lives of their students, and may enter the classroom with a deep-set belief that education is, fundamentally, benevolent and good. However, such an uncritical stance may fail to account for the negative experiences of Indigenous students in Australia, where teachers are often cited as the primary reason Indigenous students leave school or refuse to go to school. Despite this, Aboriginal communities remain strong advocates of education and continue to lobby for a genuine and meaningful role in decision making. Purpose: Given teachers’ critical influence, a collaboration was formed between the two authors: a Gamilaroi (Aboriginal) woman and a non-Indigenous Canadian woman, to conduct a review of the research. We asked: ‘What are the personal (non-academic) attributes a teacher needs to engage Indigenous students effectively in the learning process?’ Method: The literature review focused primarily on the Australian context and used a framework-based synthesis approach, whereby a decolonising ‘Relationally Responsive Standpoint’ framework was identified a priori. This provided the structure for extracting and synthesising the literature. Findings and Discussion: The themes arising from the literature review were organised and considered through the framework, which foregrounds awareness through Respecting (self/motivations), Connecting (interpersonal) and Reflecting (knowledge) before concluding by Directing (future role). In Directing, the implications of the findings are discussed through yarning, a dialogical and dynamic approach with a strong future focus regarding the next steps of research and action. Conclusions: Reviewing the literature in this way offers teachers, researchers, teacher educators and, arguably, policy-makers an opportunity to consider the personal attributes necessary to engage Indigenous students. It highlights the importance of critical self-reflection to being a relationally responsive teacher. We believe that the findings span international and professional boundaries and could impact on Indigenous Peoples globally, if all professions engage with an understanding of their own axiology and ontology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Research
Volume62
Issue number2
Early online date25 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Indigenous students
  • education
  • teacher motivation
  • personal attributes
  • literature review
  • teacher ontology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'What are the personal attributes a teacher needs to engage Indigenous students effectively in the learning process? Re-viewing the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this