Date of Submission



The purpose of this ethnographic study is to investigate how non-Indigenous Australian secondary drama teachers engage with an Australian Indigenous drama text. Some studies, such as those of Moriarty (1995) and Harrison and Greenfield (2011), have focused on the implementation and teaching of ‘Aboriginal Studies’ and ‘Aboriginal Culture’. There is a gap in scholarly literature relating to the way teachers engage with Indigenous Australian perspectives and texts. In this research, I address the following question: ‘How do non-Indigenous Victorian secondary school drama teachers (NIVSSDTs) engage with Indigenous Australian drama texts and what effects does this have on ‘ways of seeing’ that develops knowledge and understanding?’ Ethnographic and case study research is used to examine how non-Indigenous Victorian secondary school drama teachers (NIVSSDTs) perceive and make sense of an Indigenous Australian drama text. A case study was conducted that included four NIVSSDTs in an ethnographic study of their teaching of an Indigenous drama text. Data collection was based on three data collection methods. First, semi-structured interviews with each of the four NIVSSDTs were undertaken. Second, visual journals of the NIVSSDTs were examined. Finally, discussion in forums involving the participants took place. The case design was informed by Indigenous Australian Aboriginal pedagogy of cultural interface as represented in the eight-stage model of Yunkaporta (2009) and the work on privileging Indigenous Australian ‘ways of Knowing’ by Rigney (1997), Smith (1999), Nakata (2003), Foley (2002) and Blair (2015). Important also to the data analysis were ‘theories of visuality’, especially the conceptual frameworks of reception theory (Hall 1980). Findings from the study were that NIVSSDTs primarily adopt hegemonic or negotiated operating positions especially when concentrating on exam criteria. Negotiated positioning is more evident when NIVSSDTs concentrate on story, themes and contexts. NIVSSDTs tended to aestheticise, objectify and engage with Indigenous Australian cultures positioning Indigenous ‘ways of Knowing’ on the periphery of Western knowledge constructs. Lack of meaningful consultation with Indigenous Australian knowledge holders is also evident. The significance of my research lies in its contribution to knowledge about social, cultural and political issues surrounding Non-Indigenous teachers’ engagement with Indigenous cultures and ‘ways of Knowing'.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


399 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education and Arts