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The importance of culture and significant others in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's education
This thesis examines the impacts that culture and identity, and the positive role that significant others, including parents, peers, teacher, Aboriginal education workers, and Elders, can have in the educational lives of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children. It achieves this through a collection of four cross-sectional quantitative studies, utilising data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). Applying a strengths-based approach, this thesis provides insight into factors that relate to educational achievement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, using Indigenous quantitative methodologies.
The quantitative research chapters examine: the role of Aboriginal Education Workers (AEWs) in fostering Indigenous culture within the school environment; how Indigenous identity, that is, how feeling good about one’s identity, at school affects children’s educational aspirations; the impact that culture and significant other, such as parents, play in Indigenous children’s schooling self-concept; and the expectations that teachers and parents have regarding Indigenous children’s schooling completion. The core findings indicate that: the presence of AEWs in schools is associated with increased cultural activities and acknowledgments in schools; high educational expectations of Indigenous children are imperative for, although lacking amongst, teachers; and cultural identity and significant others are significant in the development of Indigenous children’s educational aspirations and self-concept.
Overall, this thesis demonstrates that to be strong in a Western Education System, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children must be supported in areas of their Indigeneity. Schools need to be inclusive of Indigenous culture, identity and belonging. Where education systems support these fundamental aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childrens’ Lifeworlds, children are more likely to engage and flourish in school.
Department/SchoolSchool of Social Sciences