You are not alone: pre-service teachers' exploration of ethics and responsibility in a compulsory Indigenous education subject

McDowall, Ailie (2020) You are not alone: pre-service teachers' exploration of ethics and responsibility in a compulsory Indigenous education subject. M/C Journal, 23 (2).

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Aunty Mary Graham, Kombu-merri elder and philosopher, says: "You are not alone in the world." We have a responsibility to each other, as well as to the land; and violence is the refusal of this relationship that binds us (Rose). In this paper, I use Emannuel Levinas’s ethics as first philosophy and epistemological violence to consider how non-Indigenous educators come to know Indigenous people. In his philosophy, Levinas presents a paradox: that to act as if one is a free being, as first philosophy, is to ignore that one is not alone in the world and that the presence of others evokes responsibility. However, to claim to know another is to bring them into one’s totality, one’s knowledge framework; an act of reducing another to who you think they are. We must find a new relationship to knowledge, one that is not based on possession.

For non-Indigenous educators learning about teaching Indigenous students and perspectives in schools, much of the curricular material draws on the corpus of knowledge constructed by non-Indigenous researchers, politicians, and professionals about Indigenous people (Nakata, Cultural Interface). This material is already bound by others' interests and motivations. How can non-Indigenous educators engage with Indigenous peoples, histories and knowledges in a way that foregrounds the responsibility that our entanglement prompts?

In this paper, I present data from my research into pre-service teachers undertaking a compulsory university subject in Indigenous education, where the pre-service teachers wrote weekly reflective learning journals. This data is drawn primarily from the end of the semester, where students reflected on what their learning would mean as they moved into future practice. I explore the role of responsibility in regards to the ethical violence that Levinas discusses.

Item ID: 63105
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1441-2616
Keywords: teacher education; Indigenous education; epistemological violence; Indigenous perspectives
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Copyright Information: Copyright (c) 2020 Ailie McDowall. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License.
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2020 23:50
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4502 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education > 450212 Cultural responsiveness and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939901 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development @ 50%
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