Working Circumspectly: What Are the Implications for Teaching in Multicultural Australia?

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Margaret PERGER , Deakin University, Burwood, Australia
Migration, in the era of globalisation has created unique learning environments in Australian schools. While teachers’ chatter and media debates focus on the merits of current education reform agendas a deadly silence reigns over the question of teaching and learning  in culturally diverse communities. Government reforms increasing emphasise the importance of national testing regimes as a measure of student achievement, school performance and teacher quality. Such emphases have, according to recent research, impacted negatively on curriculum and pedagogy (Dulfer et al, 2103) and created classroom environments that are neither responsive to the needs of students nor inclusive (Thompson, 2013).

This paper presents a methodology for investigating teachers’ everyday practice that draws on Institutional Ethnography, Critical Discourse Analysis and Ontological Inquiry as a means for uncovering, not only the being of social relations in everyday practice but also how that relation can be understood ontologically. It addresses, in particular, how the mediation of teachers’ work relates to the influences and interests of others by tracing the constitution of social relations, disclosed in relations that emerge between teachers’ perceptions of practice and their enactments. In doing so, the being of the social comes into view.

IE’s recognition of being in practice is acknowledged. To better understand the impacts of this ontological dimension on practice, analysis of data, extends IE by drawing on Heidegger’s (2005) conception of ontological inquiry. This has been chosen for its dual focus in explaining the significance of Being, itself, and to reveal explicitly the Being of people and equipment in teachers’ work.

Analysis of research data offered by practising teachers, confirmed textual mediation in everyday work. It revealed, too, teachers who practised circumspectly. In doing so, the ontological significance of who we are to how and why we enter into social relations was exposed.