The Big House closing the gap: dreams and dissonant discourses

Jones, Janice K. (2015) The Big House closing the gap: dreams and dissonant discourses. In: 2015 International Conference on Deep Languages Education Policy and Practices: Stimulating languages learning - global perspectives and local practice, 17-18 Oct 2015, Ipswich, Queensland.


Universities in Australia have an important role to play in redressing the legacy of colonisation and in closing a significant gap for health, life expectancy, and educational and employment opportunity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Beyond the moral imperative to enact socially just principles and practices, there are economic drivers for universities to ensure more equal participation in Higher Education for students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and for students from lower socio-economic status backgrounds. To reverse inequality requires radical changes to the beliefs, contexts and practices that serve to re-instil and re-enforce deficits, both for universities and the communities they serve. As complex and hierarchical entities universities enact processes of gatekeeping, certification and corporatisation that are characteristics of colonising epistemologies and practices of power and control. Their role has been to privilege excellence over attending to education for the masses. Hence, the university may be perceived as the Big House, the locus of power, control and judgement. Similarly, universities reporting their successes in community employ deficit discourses: they are the heroic provider of solutions to needy communities. Hence, at the axis of these two negative discourses, university-community partnerships tend to reinforce the very dependencies and deficits they propose to remedy. This presentation brings a close focus to the language of university-community partnerships, and offers Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) philosophies and practices as a means for disrupting the discourses that reinforce inequality. However, it contends that the ABCD epistemology and practices challenge the habitus of universities, presenting challenges for the corporate imagination envisioning university-community partnerships, and particularly for universities’ reporting of their successes. When the university can no longer position itself as the hero of the story, a new narrative will be required for the sharing of success and transformation.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Keynote)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 05:16
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2017 05:34
Uncontrolled Keywords: equity; deficit discourse; ABCD; Asset Based Community Development; institutional habitus; indigenous education; closing the gap
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development

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