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The Australian curriculum, as a policy imagining what learning should take place in schools, and what that learning should achieve, involves the imagining and rescaling of social relations amongst students, their schools, the nation-state and the globe. Following David Harvey's theorisations of space-time and Norman Fairclough's operationalisation of these theories in the texturing of spatio-temporalities within policy texts, we seek to critically explore the cross-curriculum priorities of the Australian curriculum. These priorities – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia, and sustainability – collectively provide a “futures orientation” to the curriculum. They also mediate and assemble conflicting spatio-temporalities, aligning the purposes of Australian schooling with an instrumentalist concern for “Asia literacy,” whilst simultaneously recasting the space-times of neoliberal capitalism within “sustainable” social, cultural and environmental constraints. We suggest these conflicting space-time constructions come to an uneasy resolution with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority, where Indigenous peoples are represented as anchoring a reconciled nation-state in a particular place, while it is re-mapped within an Asian economic region. Such curricula constructions potentially diminish student recognition of Indigenous peoples' ongoing struggles for self-determination and steer student knowledge of “Asia” towards the acquisition of a set of skills to exploit future economic opportunity.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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