Carol Reid UWS
Centre for Educational Research

New geographies of education

Policies of the state and federal governments in the last 15 years have created new choices for parents in the search for ‘good’ schools. Research into the ways in which these choices shape community relations and knowledge within schools is required. While there has always been separation along the lines of class, greater religious segregation is occurring at a rapid rate. In the 1970’s and 1980’s when schools took on multicultural and Aboriginal education policies and curricula, while hotly debated, state schools responded by opening up to critical dialogue. The result was a rush to state schools and a decline in the private sector. This also occurred with some decent funding for teacher professional development. What of now? What point is there for schools to change when parents can just go somewhere else? Indeed, does this matter? What of knowledge being co-constructed?

457 visa immigrants and school communities

Emerging processes of racialisation are occurring in towns in regional areas and parts of major cities where 457 visa immigrants arrive with their families. Some of these communities are becoming quite large and effectively changing the social, cultural and economic dynamics. Schools need to respond to these emerging processes but we know nothing of their challenges or productive responses. These children are part of the growing global movement of students, teachers and other skilled workers.

Multicultural education: education in and for a culturally diverse society requires national attention. Key research questions are: identifying and defining the range of issues regarding values, competencies and world views; the role of the school community in ensuring students’ capacity to operate in a culturally diverse society, and the effect of privatised schooling; the role of language pluralism as the basis for cross-cultural communication confidence.

Cultural diversity and the arts: the creative cities/creative nation/ economic development nexus is becoming increasingly apparent. As nations compete for high quality/ value adding immigrants, the quality of cultural life and the capacity of cities and regions to offer deep cultural support and creativity will become an increasingly improtant part of their “pull”, their attraction for potential immigrants. Australia has a very poorly developed sense of this important role and national arts policy barely notices its implications. An arts research agenda that documents the issues and the potential strategies for building a more creative culturally complex society is now of major importance.

The role of DIAC’s Multicultural Affairs as a driver in partnerships with Education and the Arts is central in building such a set of research agendas.