Being culturally competent or culturally indulgent: what is an effective pedagogical framework for working with Indigenous Learners?

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This paper presents a discussion of ideas about whiteness behaviours being present in curriculum delivery. While culturally appropriate curriculum purports to address both content and delivery considerations relevant to Indigenous learners, there are planes of engagement that encapsulate white subjectivities which are both visible and invisible, and represent just one chronology of whiteness. That is, consciously and unconsciously patterned behaviours of delivering curriculum, no matter what the discipline area, have the potential to produce accessibility and achievement, but do they also reproduce inequalities? One view put forward as part of this discussion, is that whiteness is the erasure of inequality because it presents as the norm in many adult education teaching situations; quite often manifested as indulgent practice, but one that also reinforces the hegemony of normativity.Current research directions about effective pedagogies that relate to Indigenous learners now espouse the term 'culturally competent'. Like 'culturally appropriate', practice is designed to address the divide between inclusion of Indigenous learners as having knowledge of how they want to learn, and the exclusion of these same learners to not knowing how they ought to learn. Tensions arise around what is knowledge, who has it, and what can be done with it. An interesting comparison can be made to the way that practitioners embrace non-English speaking background (NESB) or culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students by reinforcing identity development and demonstrating knowledge through sharing aspects of culture such as food, dress and habits, with the way that Indigenous learners are included, or not, in curriculum studies. The indulgent practice shown to the first group could also be seen to be culturally competent because of the implicit and explicit respect shown for identifying and celebrating cultural difference. Given the whiteness behaviours within spractice however, which pedagogical framework is most effective for Indigenous learners?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association eJournal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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