Spiders are Mammals: Direct Instruction in Cape York

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Louise Dow


In 2010, SRA Direct Instructioni was introduced across the curriculum in two remote Cape York schools, as a key aspect of social and welfare reform. There is national political interest in these reforms, which link welfare policy to State primary school education conceived as basic skills training. Reflecting the political interest, national newspapers ran the story that Direct Instruction had provided almost miraculous results after 17 weeks (Devine 2010a). Alternative approaches to literacy development in Indigenous education did not get the same sort of media attention. Noel Pearson provides the intellectual basis for Cape York social reforms, through his writing, political advocacy and leadership of organisations involved in the reforms. His ultimate goal is successful mainstream education leading to economic integration, where young people are „completely fluent in their own culture and the wider culture‟ (Pearson 2009:57). The question posed by this vision is „What kind of education can produce these flexible, bicultural, working people who keep their traditions alive?‟

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Author Biography

Louise Dow, Independent Scholar

Louise Dow’s interest in the social analysis of literacy began with community work in the 1980s, influenced by studies in social anthropology and communication. After two decades in the corporate panopticon, Louise has recently spent time in remote areas of Australia, completing a Masters in Education, and working as a literacy tutor, writer and editor.