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Early childhood at the cultural interface
The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education (2015)
  • Professor Marguerite Maher, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Lisa Buxton, The University of Notre Dame Australia
The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia emphasises that children’s own identity is constructed within
their given context of family and community. This article presents the findings of a multiple case study project
undertaken within five remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, Australia. Community Elders
were concerned that while their children had a positive sense of self during their prior-to-school years, on entry
into formal schooling they experienced a disjuncture between those experiences and the expectations of a
Western curriculum. The project involved partnering one university academic to work with each community,
exploring ways of improving 4-year-old children’s pre-reading and numeracy skills to enhance their capacity
to engage with expectations on entry into formal schooling. Elders were determined to have the children be
successful at school and saw success there as inextricably interwoven with their sense of efficacy to explore and
to learn. Outcomes included positives such as children demonstrating increased pre-reading and numeracy
skills and, importantly, the engagement of the whole community in the project. Foundational to the success
was making Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing key components of learning opportunities provided
to the children, supporting awareness of their social and cultural heritage.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Maher, M., and Buxton, L. (2015). Early childhood at the cultural interface. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(1), 1-10. DOI: 10.1017/jie.2015.5