Making Australia's east-side neighbours visible: an investigation into the use of transformative educational strategies as a means of developing knowledge of Australia's east-side neighbours through French-language instruction

Boulard, Florence Monique (2017) Making Australia's east-side neighbours visible: an investigation into the use of transformative educational strategies as a means of developing knowledge of Australia's east-side neighbours through French-language instruction. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The recent development and release of a national curriculum in Australia by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Agency (2012) provides evidence that its content is not a simple neutral assemblage of knowledge, but is rather a selective tradition and autobiographical construct (Apple, 1993; Pinar, 2002) that illustrates how Australia, as a nation, seeks to define itself through the curriculum experience provided for its youth. Evident within the curriculum through the cross-curriculum priorities is Australia's encouraged engagement with its northern neighbours in Asia. Although the eastern neighbours of the Pacific region are minimally represented in the national curriculum, despite Australia's proximity to the nations of the South Pacific, a possibility for its inclusion is evidenced in the recent release of the Australian Curriculum: Languages French, which draws attention to the French-speaking Pacific nations east of Australia in its rationale. Epistemologically guided by a transformative paradigm, which encourages a critically informed, change-orientated, interventionist approach to curriculum development and enactment, this participatory action research employed a mixed-approach inquiry with teachers and students of French in a regional city in North Queensland, Australia to develop a change-oriented curriculum for Year Eight high school French. The aspired transformative curriculum sought to contribute to developing students' international-mindedness and knowledge of their East-side neighbours, whilst remaining responsive to the linguistic requirements set by the Australian Curriculum.

Findings from this research indicated that students, prior to the curriculum intervention, had limited knowledge of Australia's East-side neighbours. Also, the research indicates that it was possible to use the French-language curriculum as a vehicle to increase young people's knowledge about this part of the world, while also contributing to their international-mindedness. Despite these positive gains, the perpetuating influence of a France-centric curriculum orientation was evident in teachers' experiences. The dominance of France-centric curriculum within French-language instruction poses important challenges for adjusting curriculum perspective and practice traditionally found in the French-language classroom.

The study indicates that this contextual transformation of practice in the French-language classroom is possible, albeit challenging. Both pragmatic and more epistemological changes were identified as needed to make this possible. Teachers need time, support and resources to enact change. As well, meaningful change on a large scale is likely to be supported through adjustment to national curriculum priorities, to give attention to not only the northern but also the eastern neighbours. Finally, at the epistemological level, developing teacher capability in teaching French through the context of the East-side neighbours requires a change in teacher's frame of reference (Mezirow, 1995), which requires a contestation of the France-centric orientation of the French-language classroom.

Item ID: 53100
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: curriculum, east-side neighbours, education, French language, French-language education, global citizen, international-mindedness, language advocacy, participatory action research, school and university partnership, transformative curriculum
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Boulard, Florence (2016) A North and Far North Queensland initiative: rethinking the 'why' when promoting languages education. Babel, 50 (2/3). pp. 1-15.

Boulard, Florence Monique (2015) Australia's education futures and the east-side neighbours. Etropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics, 14 (1). pp. 57-63.

Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 01:09
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130207 LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl Maori) @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2003 Language Studies > 200306 French Language @ 25%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200210 Pacific Cultural Studies @ 25%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 50%
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