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Bilingual education, Aboriginal self-determination and Yolŋu control at Shepherdson College, 1972–1983

Bilingual education, Aboriginal self-determination and Yolŋu control at Shepherdson College,... Self-determination policies and the expansion of bilingual schooling across Australia's Northern Territory (NT) in the 1970s and 1980s provided opportunities for Aboriginal educators and communities to take control over schooling. This paper demonstrates how this occurred at Shepherdson College, a mission school turned government bilingual school, at Galiwin'ku on Elcho Island in North East, Arnhem Land, in the early years of the policies between 1972 and 1983. Yolŋu staff developed a syncretic vision for a Yolŋu-controlled space of education that prioritised Yolŋu knowledges and aimed to sustain Yolŋu existence.Design/methodology/approachThis paper uses archival data as well as oral histories, focusing on those with a close involvement with Shepherdson College, to elucidate the development of a Yolŋu vision for schooling.FindingsMany Yolŋu school staff and their supporters, encouraged by promises of the era, pushed for greater Yolŋu control over staffing, curriculum, school spaces and governance. The budgetary and administrative control of the NT and federal governments acted to hinder possibilities. Yet despite these bureaucratic challenges, by the time of the shift towards neoliberal constraints in the early 1980s, Yolŋu educators and their supporters had envisioned and achieved, in a nascent way, a Yolŋu schooling system.Originality/valuePrevious scholarship on bilingual schooling has not closely examined the potent link between self-determination and bilingual schooling, largely focusing on pedagogical debates. Instead, this paper argues that Yolŋu embraced the “way in” offered by bilingual schooling to develop a new vision for community control through control of schooling. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

Bilingual education, Aboriginal self-determination and Yolŋu control at Shepherdson College, 1972–1983

History of Education Review , Volume 50 (2): 16 – Oct 5, 2021

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/her-05-2020-0032
Publisher site
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Abstract

Self-determination policies and the expansion of bilingual schooling across Australia's Northern Territory (NT) in the 1970s and 1980s provided opportunities for Aboriginal educators and communities to take control over schooling. This paper demonstrates how this occurred at Shepherdson College, a mission school turned government bilingual school, at Galiwin'ku on Elcho Island in North East, Arnhem Land, in the early years of the policies between 1972 and 1983. Yolŋu staff developed a syncretic vision for a Yolŋu-controlled space of education that prioritised Yolŋu knowledges and aimed to sustain Yolŋu existence.Design/methodology/approachThis paper uses archival data as well as oral histories, focusing on those with a close involvement with Shepherdson College, to elucidate the development of a Yolŋu vision for schooling.FindingsMany Yolŋu school staff and their supporters, encouraged by promises of the era, pushed for greater Yolŋu control over staffing, curriculum, school spaces and governance. The budgetary and administrative control of the NT and federal governments acted to hinder possibilities. Yet despite these bureaucratic challenges, by the time of the shift towards neoliberal constraints in the early 1980s, Yolŋu educators and their supporters had envisioned and achieved, in a nascent way, a Yolŋu schooling system.Originality/valuePrevious scholarship on bilingual schooling has not closely examined the potent link between self-determination and bilingual schooling, largely focusing on pedagogical debates. Instead, this paper argues that Yolŋu embraced the “way in” offered by bilingual schooling to develop a new vision for community control through control of schooling.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 5, 2021

Keywords: Indigenous; Yolŋu; Aboriginal; Australia; Bilingual education; Self-determination; Galiwin'ku; Elcho Island

References