Teaching for reconciliation in a multiracial classroom

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In this paper an argument is made for paying attention to the discursive features of classroom talk; particularly, for how the teacher authorises ways of knowing and speaking about the world for students. One teacher’s pedagogic practice is described as she teaches English and History through an integrated endeavour with a group of Year 8 students. She aims to empower a small group of Aboriginal students–in her predominantly European classroom–to speak of their history, in and on their own terms. Teaching Australian History in schools and whether to take a colonial or first nations standpoint is contested. The ethnographic research on which this paper is based, follows three teachers across one school year. The focus of this study is in how classroom talk constrains or enables students to engage in dialogical ways. Following Bakhtin (1981) and Freire (1970), dialogic learning engagements are understood as those which provide students with opportunities to explore new, contested or different understandings about the world. This paper illustrates the extent to which a teacher’s view towards knowledge influences students’ conceptualisations and expressions of what is identified as important to know.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journal of Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


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