An Entrepreneurial Adventure? Young Women Pre-service Teachers in Remote Aboriginal Australia

January, 2017

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 61 (2017) 179-188
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article investigates the identity work of three non-Aboriginal young women pre-service teachers taking part in a professional placement in remote Aboriginal Australia. The author also considers the ways in which their identity work might challenge colonizing discourses and racialized forms of power.

The participants were three young, white female pre-service teachers, who were undertaking a remote community placement at Aboriginal Australia during 2012.
The author conducted semi-structure interviews with the students. She asked them about their motivations for undertaking a professional placement in remote Aboriginal Australia, what they were learning about education and teaching, and what they thought they would take away from the experience.

The author concludes that the participants in this study performed a variety of subjective positions which worked to both reinforce and challenge colonial discourse and racialized forms of power.
The author showed how insights from youth sociology around young women can illuminate the identity work of young women pre-service teachers on a placement in remote Aboriginal Australia.
This study shows the complexity of the ways in which different participants cite, and also re-work, particular discursive injunctions, each in very different ways, showing that teacher identities are polysemic and complex.
The author demonstrates how preservice teachers’ engagements with difference are neither straightforward nor consistent, even with individuals.

The results emphasise the importance of preparing pre-service teachers for such experiences through compelling them to critique and be reflexive about whiteness and white domination.
The author also argues that the results would be useful for teacher educators to use the arguments made by girls’ studies scholars in order to interrogate their own subjectivities with respect to gender, race and class intersections, and the possible effects of these when they travel to places such remote Aboriginal communities. These results would help engage teacher educators, and young pre-service teachers, in thinking in more nuanced ways about the repetition of racialized power dynamics on a global scale, including the gendered nature of this, prior to travelling to a place such as remote Aboriginal Australia. 

Updated: Jun. 03, 2018