University Of Tasmania

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Teaching Beginning Teachers to ‘Think What We Are Doing’ in Indigenous Education

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 13:38 authored by Barbara KameniarBarbara Kameniar, Windsor, S, Sifa, S
Working with beginning teachers to assist them to begin to ‘think what we do’ (Arendt, 1998) in both mainstream and Indigenous education is problematic. This is particularly so because the majority of our teacher candidates, and indeed most of their university lecturers, are positioned close to the racial, social and cultural centre of Australian education. That is, teachers and teacher educators tend to be white, middle class, educationally successful, and accepting of the main premises and assumptions, purposes and values of formal schooling in Australia. This proximity to the centre can lead to an inability to question ideas and practices that, while everyday and seemingly innocuous, are frequently dangerous and destructive for those at the margins. In this article, we illustrate the normative power of hegemonic ideas by using aspects of the teen fiction The Hunger Games as an analogy for ‘thoughtless’ and unquestioning acceptance of authority. We then describe and discuss a pedagogic practice used within the Master of Teaching program at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. The practice is designed to challenge normative understandings about Australian history, teaching Indigenous Australian students, and to encourage engagement with the German-American Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt’s provocative question ‘What are we doing?’ (Arendt, 1998, p. 5). We conclude the article with a challenge to re-think current policies and practices in the education of Indigenous Australians.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Indigenous Education








Faculty of Education


Cambridge University Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Teacher and instructor development