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Accounting for educational equality: the cultural politics of Samoan paraprofessionals' representations of pedagogy in state-designated disadvantaged schools and communities in Australia

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This paper reports a study of the accounts of pedagogic work provided by Samoan paraprofessionals responsible for forging lines of communication between government secondary schools in an Australian city and state-designated disadvantaged local communities. The paraprofessionals are viewed as representatives of the imagined communities constructed around schools in official state discourses on educational disadvantage and equality. It is shown that the discourses on Samoan pedagogy spoken by the paraprofessionals are appropriated from a highly conflictual field of anthropological and historical knowledge-production. Qualitative analysis of interview data provided by the paraprofessionals indicates that all interviewees emphasized differences in the form and content of pedagogy between the Australian school and the Samoan home and church, attributing these differences to various relations of power and control. In conclusion, it is proposed that the paraprofessionals' accounts should not be read as simply true or untrue, but in terms of their specificity as input to institutional pedagogic work-input with the potential to bring cultural difference into being as it is acted on by teachers and other educational agents.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-05-01

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