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Asia Literacy in Australian Schools and the Move Toward Broader Intercultural Understanding  

Emily S. Rudling

Asia literacy is an Australian education policy goal intended to educate Australian school students about Asian languages, cultures, and economies and, in turn, deepen Australian engagement with the Asian region. First defined in 1988, the concept has since been adapted by a suite of Asia education policies with more than 60 relevant policy documents having been published since the 1950s. However, despite being a cornerstone education policy, political vagaries have prevented the widespread and sustained implementation of Asia literacy education in schools. Tied to the broader goal of engaging with Asia, Asia literacy is in conflict with a sense of an Australian national identity and entangled with Australian economic, education, and foreign policies. A thematic review of the extant policy data and scholarly literature reveals several flaws in Asia literacy policy. Namely, it is underpinned by several assumptions: Asia literacy is learned in formal education; Asia is a knowable entity; proficiency in languages, cultures, and economies equates to Asia literacy; and Asia literacy is assumed to resolve national disengagement from Asia. This approach fails to account for everyday Asia literacy enlivened in the multicultural and multilingual Australian society. Scholars have argued that this “others” Asia from everyday Australian life. The implications of this model of Asia literacy play out in the classroom with few teachers reporting confidence in teaching Asia literacy content, and enrollments in Asia-related subjects being perpetually low. Newer policy imperatives which stipulate the teaching and learning of intercultural competencies may help to dissolve the construct of the Asian other and enliven Asia literacy in the classroom beyond knowledge of languages and cultures. If pursued, this can foster dynamic knowledge of Asia in Australian schools, bringing Asia closer to the everyday and enhancing engagement with the Asian region.

Article

Transnational Childhood and Education  

Aparna Tarc

The field of transnational childhood and education emerges under intensifying mobilities. These global conditions disrupt universalist educational treatments of childhood as a fixed developmental stage of human being. Transnationality shows childhood to be a psychosocially constructed experience that takes myriad form across diverse cultural, historical, educational, and political contexts. The lives of actual children are caught in colonial and national constructions of childhood and subject to its discourses, politics, and normative enactments through public schooling. The emerging field of transnational childhood and education represents a potentially critical intervention in colonial and national enactments of childhood worldwide. Despite interdisciplinary efforts to reconceptualize childhood, Western educational institutions continue to hold to and reproduce hegemonic and colonial understandings of childhood as monocultural, heteronormative, familial, innocent, and protected. Mass global flows of people, culture, and ideas compel policy-makers and educational experts worldwide to consider transnational childhood as the dominant situation of children in and across multicultural nations. The fluidity of malleable childhood experience is poised to generate new educational arrangements and innovations. Transnational lives of children de-stable normative categorizations and fixed situations placed upon children in and through the mechanisms of early childhood education and national schooling. Researchers of transnational childhood and education engage a range of educational experiences and arrangements of children moving within, across, and outside of formal and national schooling institutions. Increasingly children and families are caught in experiences produced by global, geo-political conditions including: war, forcible migration, detainment on borders, internal colonization, and environmental catastrophe. To respond to the times, families and communities seek out and/or are forced to provide opportunities and alternatives for children outside of school. Increasingly children use emergent digital and other forms of remote and inventive means of education. As research in this area is new, transdisciplinary, and ground-breaking, the study of transnational childhoods and education has the potential to radically innovate and deepen the meanings and possibilities of both childhood and education in a rapidly globalizing, uncertain, and changing world.