Indigenous literacy needs more than 'sounding out' words

Riddle, Stewart (2014) Indigenous literacy needs more than 'sounding out' words. The Conversation, 15 July 2014. pp. 1-4.

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Closing the gap in Indigenous literacy is a problem without a simple solution. But it can be done. As I’ve argued previously, we need to give up the search for a one-size-fits-all approach and adopt a range of strategies, such as:

• investing in a rich and diverse public education system,
• developing lasting partnerships between schools, governments and families, and
• addressing disadvantage and educational inequity so that all kids have access to a high quality education.

This multi-strategy approach is hardly controversial. But in a recent article in The Conversation I also raised the question of whether our goals in Indigenous literacy need to be broadened.

Will our education focus have better impact if broader and more culturally-relevant perspectives are given to our teaching strategies? With English no longer being the primary language spoken in many Australian households, how appropriate is it to expect our future generations to be taught literacy using a narrowly conceived formula? How relevant is performance in narrowly conceived English tests to a student who speaks three or four languages?

Somehow my thinking has been misinterpreted to imply that I have called for an end to English lessons for Indigenous students. Indeed, over the course of last week, The Australian published no fewer than four pieces (here, here, here and here) criticising me for things I never actually said. The accusations included claims that I object to improving remote Aboriginal children’s literacy, that I think 'Aborigines should be idle and isolated, unable to
work in the market economy' and that English lessons for Indigenous students should halt. An analysis of the campaign of misrepresentation was published in Crikey.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright © 2010–2014, The Conversation Media Group. Articles in The Conversation are free to share or republish under Creative Commons. You must credit the publisher, and you can't edit our material or sell it separately.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 05:43
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2015 02:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: Indigenous literacy
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education

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