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Othering or inclusion? Teacher practice around Asian voices and identities in literature

Thomas, A ORCID: 0000-0003-4508-2874 and To, V ORCID: 0000-0002-2698-3207 2020 , 'Othering or inclusion? Teacher practice around Asian voices and identities in literature' , English in Australia, vol. 54, no. 3 , pp. 18-27 .

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‘Asia literacy’ can be loosely defined as ‘some understanding of Asia and its languages in order to engage with it and communicate with its people’ (Erebus Consulting Partners, 2002). The Australian Curriculum has prioritised children’s development of Asia literacy, namely through articulating the cross-curriculum priority defined as ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’. In terms of the English curriculum, this priority is realised through an emphasis on the representation of Asian voices and characters in literature that is studied in the classroom. However, previous research undertaken in schools to explore the use of multicultural literature by teachers has demonstrated an uncritical approach to literature – with teachers tending to set up binary opposites of ‘Australian’ and ‘the Other’ (Mendoza & Reese, 2001; Rodriguez & Kim, 2018; Leong & Woods, 2017). This paper will present the complexities of practice with literature centred around countries from Asia as represented through research with five Tasmanian teachers – one early childhood teacher, three primary school teachers, and one secondary English teacher. It will examine the factors that influence teachers to use literature from Asian countries, their selection of literature, and their classroom practice with literature. Finally it makes some recommendations for a stronger future whereby Asian peoples, voices and stories are integrated more inclusively and critically in teachers’ everyday practice.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Thomas, A and To, V
Journal or Publication Title: English in Australia
Publisher: Australian Association for the Teaching of English
ISSN: 0046-208X
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