The purpose of this section is to provide brief information regarding recently completed research studies in Queensland.
Intending contributors should forward a short abstract of their work, together with relevant biographical data, to: The Editor, Queensland Researcher, Research Services, Queensland Department of Education, P.O. Box 33, North Quay Q 4002.
|Title:||Research into Torres Strait Islander Education|
|Institution:||James Cook University|
|Authors:||Barry Osborne and Geoff Coombs|
As an ex-teacher on Thursday Island (1968-1972) I was appalled by the lack of print material about education in Torres Strait. It was not possible, at that stage, to read of its history, an appropriate pedagogy for the region, or even of suggestions about teaching strategies or curriculum which might be of benefit in the future. Although we tried hard and had some successes, we were aware that we were not achieving all we could with our students.
Slowly a research literature to fill this void has begun to emerge. First, in 1973 Orr and Williamson published Education in the Torres Strait: Perspectives for Development. Based on an in-depth look at current practices it spelled out many limitations of current practices and policies and set forward a series of recommendations dealing with curriculum, the language of learning, the way into the wider world, staff and administration. The recommendations were in many ways far sighted, provocative, and generally less than enthusiastically received. Nevertheless, subsequent developments in minority education around the world vindicate many of the recommendations in the report. Perhaps of even greater import was the fact that the Islanders themselves had been consulted and their views and concerns were considered. And, perhaps most importantly, Islander education was researched independently of Aboriginal or mainstream education - giving it standing as a topic worthy of research in its own right. Indeed, subsequently Williamson (1974, 1975) published two articles derived directly from the Orr and Williamson data.
In 1974, a Torres Strait Islander viewpoint appeared in The Aboriginal Child at School (Lui, 1974). The Queensland Department of Education was also involved in explaining what it was trying to do to improve the education provided for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander (Dwyer, 1974). The same year Langbridge (1977) completed a BEd (Hons) history of education thesis dealing with the role of missionaries in education until 1915 when the London Missionary Society was closed.
The Queensland Department of Education produced its own Education in Torres Strait the (mid-1970's) (Boxall and Duncan 1979). It used a more structured interview schedule than the Orr and Williamson study, was inclusive of more islander communities, but included pupil achievement scores of very doubtful validity. It made seven recommendations, some of which were consonant with those made by Orr and Williamson. The same year saw the completion of my Master's dissertation on teacher preparation for remote Aboriginal or Torres -Strait Islander communities (Osborne, 1979).
The following year saw the publishing of a paper on the expectations teachers held when they were appointed to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities (O'Riley, 1980). Two years later I published research on Torres Strait Islander cognitive styles (Osborne, 1982) and this was followed by a set of recommendations based on this research (Osborne and Coombs, 1982). However, the cognitive style literature was found to be somewhat equivocal, particularly in cross-cultural settings. Furthermore, it focuses on an "in-student" explanation of poor school performance which I now reject in favour of "in-setting" explanations. This shift led me to reject paper and pencil tests and adopt ethnographic research strategies.
Accordingly, in 1984, I began a study of five teachers new to Thursday Island State High School. The study followed them through their first thirteen months on Thursday Island to find initial reactions, expectations over time, and changes in their teaching practices over time. Three papers have emanated from that study so far (Osborne, 1988; Osborne and Coombs, 1987; Coombs, in progress). Other papers are in progress.
Another ethnographic study commenced in 1984. It derived from concern at James Cook University of North Queensland (Jull and Loos, 1984) about the problems some Torres Strait Islander students were having while engaged in teaching practice. Two papers (Osborne and Henderson, 1985; Henderson and Osborne, in press) showed the different perspectives of supervising teachers and their Islander student teachers. This led to some modifications to the practice teaching setting at James Cook University. A third paper (Osborne and Henderson, 1986) documented the progress of an unsuccessful teaching practice.
In 1985 the Torres Strait Islander Regional Education Committee completed a series of three workshops over a period of two years and published its Policy Statement on Education in Torres Strait 1985. They had thoroughly researched community expectations and hopes for education in their region and made a series of consensual statements and recommendations as a blue print for future developments in education. A brief comparative paper appeared in 19B5 also (Osborne, 1985). The same year Thursday Island State High School's principal, Mr Bob Topping, with the support of the Torres Strait Islander Regional Education Committee, organised a series of research workshops which culminated in Torres Strait Islander Styles of Communication and Learning (Osborne, 1986), and in Kennedy and Kennedy (1986). Another study commenced in 1985. It looked at the special ways Islander teachers work with their students in outer island primary schools. This study has produced three papers (Osborne and Sellars, 1987; Osborne and Bamford 1987; Osborne and Francis, 1987), which deal with the culturally different teaching and learning styles of Torres Strait Islanders.
1986 saw the staffing of all outer island schools by fully qualified principals as the Queensland Department of Education took over the education on these islands from the Queensland Department of Community Services. Eight of the fourteen islands had not had white or qualified principals before, and the potential initial effects, as islanders in charge of the schools were replaced, on the Islander staff, the children, and on the communities seemed to offer a unique setting for research. Accordingly, I collected data during 1987, the second year of new principals on two of the islands (Osborne, in progress). In 1986 the Curriculum Branch of the Queensland Department of Education also began a study to investigate, in depth, the educational needs of the various island communities.
In 1987, Steve Castley began to research one community's expectations of a principal (Castley and Osborne, 1988) and he intends to broaden this study in the future. The principal at Thursday Island State High School has also written about education at this school (Topping, 1987).
Allan Williamson (1987) has researched the historical role of principals and teachers and his PhD (Williamson, in progress, abstract in this issue) will add further insights into the present and future of education in Torres Strait. His ANZAAS article (Williamson, 1987), spells out the roles of both Islander and "European" teachers from 1892-1941.
It seems that quite rapidly a wealth of written material about Torres Strait education is and will become available to fill the dearth of just twenty years ago. Much of the credit for this change clearly belongs to Kenneth Orr; he not only commenced the new phase, he also fostered several of us in the development of research skills to continue his work.
The work of several linguists is beginning to inform educators of Torres Strait Islanders. Recent work in Torres Strait languages commenced with Dutton (1970). His article on Torres Strait Creole was followed by Bavi (1976) and Crowley and Rigsby's "Cape York Creole" in 1979.
In outlining the reasons for writing their article, Crowley and Rigsby (1979, p.153) state:
... teachers and educators may want to develop both a hearing and a speaking command of Creole that they can use when talking with Aboriginal and Islander students and their parents ...Although this article does not deal specifically with Torres Strait Creole, Islanders are among the speakers of the Cape York Creole referred to.
Several articles by linguist Anna Shnukal have resulted from her field work in the Torres Straits from the early 80's (Shnukal, 1982, 1983a, 1983b, 1984a, 1984b, 1985a, 1985b,). Her article describing the growth of Torres Strait Creole (Shnukal, 1983a) would be particularly valuable for those teachers wishing to trace this development. In 1984 Shnukal wrote an article that was published in two parts (1984a, 1984b) by the professional journal for teachers, The Aboriginal Child at School. This article, titled "Torres Strait Islander Students in Queensland Mainland Schools", was intended to inform classroom teachers (not teaching in the Torres Straits but with Torres Strait Islander pupils in their mainland classes) about the language background of Torres Strait Islander children and their parents, and the sorts of language difficulties Torres Strait Islander pupils could face during their schooling.
This linguistic work, and other research now informs a growing body of literature dealing with educational implications in Torres Strait settings (Murray, 1984-1987; Kale, 1987) and for Islanders in a University setting (McDonald, 1988).
As early as 1982 Shnukal (1984b, p.19) was arguing for the use of ESL programs as a possible approach for successful instruction of mainland Torres Strait Islander pupils:
... while the provision of ESL classes is an obvious solution to the language difficulties of many children, there are at present no ESL teachers employed in mainstream schools ...Shnukal goes on to say "... most educationalists do not recognize that English is a second language for many of the children they teach" (p.19).
So, not only has educational research per se begun to blossom, research into linguistics which informs educational practice is also becoming substantial.
BOXALL, R. and DUNCAN, W. (1979) Education in Torres Strait (the mid 1970's). Brisbane: Curriculum Branch, Queensland Department of Education.
CASTLEY, S. and OSBORNE, A.B. (1988) "Saibai Island Community Expectations of Their First Fully Qualified Principal." Queensland Researcher, (this issue).
COOMBS, G. (in progress) Constancy and Change Over Time in a Torres Strait Classroom. Minor Dissertation as partial fulfilment of MEd course requirements, James Cook University.
CROWLEY, T. and RIGSBY, B. (1979) "Cape York Creole", in Shopen, T. (Ed.) Language and Their Status. Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop, pp.153-207.
DUTTON, T.E. (1970) "Informal English in the Torres Strait:, in Ramson, W.S. (Ed.) English Transported: Essays on Australasian English. Canberra: A.N.U. Press.
DWYER, J. (1974) "What are we Doing for Aboriginal and Islander Children?" Quest, 14, pp.6-12.
HENDERSON, L. and OSBORNE, A.B. (in press) Black and White Perspectives of Teaching Practice II: Student Perspectives." To appear in Loos, N.A. and Miller, G. (Ed.) Succeeding Against the Odds: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education at James Cook University.
JULL, W. and LOOS, N. (1984) "Aboriginal and Islander Teacher Education Program." Queensland Teachers Union Professional Magazine, October, pp.18-20.
KALE, J. (1987) "Controllers or Victims: Language and Education in the Torres Strait." Paper presented at the 57th ANZAAS Congress. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
KENNEDY, R. and KENNEDY, J. (1986) "Adha Gar Tidi" Cultural Sensitivity Topics for workers in Western Torres Strait." Torres Strait Working Papers 2, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
LANGBRIDGE, J. (1977) From Enculturation to Evangelism: An Account of Missionary Education in the Islands of Torres Strait to 1915. Unpublished BEd (Hons), Department of Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
LUI, G. (1974) "Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Views." The Aboriginal Child at School, 2, 5, pp.26-31.
McDONALD, H. (1988) "Succeeding Against the Odds: Torres Strait Islanders at University." Queensland Researcher, (this issue).
MURRAY, E.E. (1984-1987) Torres Strait English Program. Thursday Island: Far Northern Schools Development Unit.
ORR, K.R. and WILLIAMSON, A. (1973) Education in Torres Strait: Perspectives for Development. Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
OSBORNE, A.B. (1988) "Teachers' Initial Perceptions of Teaching at Thursday Island State High School." Queensland Researcher, (this issue).
OSBORNE, A.B. (1986) "Torres Strait Islander Styles of Communication and Learning." Torres Strait Working Papers 1, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
OSBORNE, A.B. (1985) "Reflections on Education in Torres Strait - Zuni Insights." The Aboriginal Child at School, 13, 2, pp.3-11.
OSBORNE, A.B. (1982) "Field-Dependence/Independence of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Pupils." Journal of Intercultural Studies, 3, 3, pp.5-18.
OSBORNE, A.B. (1979) A Justification of New Strategies to Prepare Teachers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pupils in Queensland. Unpublished MEd (Hons) Dissertation. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
OSBORNE, A.B. and BAMFORD, B. (1987) "Torres Strait Islanders Teaching Torres Strait Islanders II." Torres Strait Working Papers 4, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
OSBORNE, A.B. and COOMBS, G. (1987) "Setting Up an Intercultural Encounter: An Ethnographic Study of 'Settling Down' a Thursday Island High School Class." Torres Strait Working Papers 6, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
OSBORNE, A.B. and COOMBS, G. (1982) "Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pupils Who are Field-Dependent:, in Beinssen, P. and Parker, J. (Eds) Focus on Practice: Proceedings of the Third State Conference of the Queensland Special Education Association - Volume 1. Aitkenvale, Queensland: Queensland Special Education Association.
OSBORNE, A.B. and FRANCIS, D. (1987) "Torres Strait Islanders Teaching Torres Strait Islanders III." Torres Strait Working Papers 5, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
OSBORNE, A.B. and HENDERSON, L. (1986) "A Case Study of Communication Breakdown During Cross-Cultural Teaching Practice." Paper presented at the Third National Conference: The Practicum, Geelong, 24 January - 1 February.
OSBORNE, A.B. and HENDERSON, L. (1985) "Black and White Perspectives of Teaching Practice 1: Supervising Teachers' Perspectives." Journal of the South Pacific Association of Teacher Educators, 13, 2, pp.30-44.
OSBORNE, A.B. and SELLARS, N. (1987) "Torres Strait Islanders Teaching Torres Strait Islanders I." Torres Strait Working Papers 3, Department of Pedagogics and Scientific Studies in Education. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
SHNUKAL, A. (1982) "Why Torres Strait 'Broken English' is Hot English." Paper presented at the Second Annual Workshop of the Aboriginal Languages Association, Batchelor, N.T.
SHNUKAL, A. (1983a) "Torres Strait Creole: The Growth of a New Torres Strait Language." Aboriginal History, 7, 2, pp.173-185.
SHNUKAL, A. (1983b) "Blaikman Tok: Changing Attitudes Towards Torres Strait Language." Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, pp.25-33.
SHNUKAL, A. (1984a) "Torres Strait Islander Students in Queensland Mainland Schools, Part I: Language Background." The Aboriginal Child at School, 12,3, pp.27-33.
SHNUKAL, A. (1984b) "Torres Strait Islander Students in Queensland Mainland Schools, Part II: Language Difficulties." The Aboriginal Child at School, 12, 5, pp.13-21.
SHNUKAL, A. (1985a) "The Spread of Torres Strait Creole to the Central Islands of Torres Strait." Aboriginal History, 9 Part 2, pp.220-234.
SHNUKAL, A. (1984b) "Multiculturalism in the Eastern Torres Strait Islands." In Clyne, M. (Ed.) Australia, Meeting Place of Languages. Pacific Linguistic Series C, No. 92. Canberra: A.N.U. Press, pp.265-279.
TOPPING, R. (1987) "Viewpoint: A Conflict of Cultures." Education Statewide, 27, p.2.
TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER REGIONAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE (1985) "Policy Statement on Education in Torres Strait 1985." (Mimeo.)
WILLIAMSON, A. (1987) "White and Islander Teachers in the Outer Islands' School of Torres Strait, 1892-1941." Paper presented at the 57th ANZAAS Congress. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.
WILLIAMSON, A. (1975) "The Case for a Trained Teaching Service in the Torres Strait Islands." The South Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 3, 1, pp.26-32.
WILLIAMSON, A. (1974) "Torres Strait Pupils." New Guinea, 8, 4, pp.50-61.
|Title:||Pen, Paper, and Torres Strait Song|
|Institution:||James Cook University|
|Authors:||Frank A. York|
Folk music collectors are no strangers to the Torres Strait. Since the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition at the turn of the century, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and interested musicians have combed the islands for representative examples of the musical culture. The continued emergence of the Islanders' affirmation of cultural identity plus a general global interest in all things ethnic has contributed to the trend to record, and thus preserve, the songs of this vital people.
The music of the Torres Strait is almost exclusively vocal music. In the tradition of folk music, it is passed down by oral transmission. But this is a folk music with a twist. What we now regard as island music is substantially the result of the influence of Pacific Islanders on the then contemporary music of the Torres Strait, itself already influenced by Papua and other sources. The Pacific Islanders came to establish and operate the pearling industry in the mid-nineteenth century, and later as emissaries of the London Missionary Society to bring Christianity to the natives. Their musical legacy is a strong South Pacific flavour evident in the harmonies and part singing in Torres Strait songs.
In fact, little of the true traditional music of the islands remains. Collectors as late as Dr. Jeremy Beckett in the 1960's and Dr. Wolfgang Laade in the 1970's have encountered occasional traditional chants, but most island music extant is the product of relatively recent and often known composers. This fairly recent corpus is what modern islanders identify and refer to as "island music".
Most efforts at collecting island music have shared the same objectives (or fate, as the case may be): either entertainment or archival. In both cases the intentions have generally been good and the results often excellent. In both cases, however, the music has predominantly remained solely on disc or tape. In no case has the collecting been particularly systematic or exhaustive.
In a few isolated cases, musical transcription has taken place for illustrative or educational purposes. Dr. Trevor Jones has transcribed several of Beckett's examples of traditional Torres Strait songs, for example, and a few of the more popular sit-down dance songs* have appeared in ABC and other educational publications. These instances remain rare.
The author has commenced fieldwork on Darnley and Yorke Islands, in the eastern and central groups, respectively. Two trips were made to each island in 1987 and a further visit is planned for 1988. A breadth of music has been obtained, from ANZAC songs through hymns, children's playsongs, songs to accompany adult dances, and other forms. All are of the modern type.
* Island dance comprises two types, the normal dance in which ranks of men or women perform various movements in a crouched position while shifting their weight from one foot to the other, and the sit-down dance which uses the same arm, head and torso movements but in a seated position. Many of the latter are ideal for use with school children.
The principal thrust of this research in progress is neither solely the further documentation of state-of-the-art music on the islands, nor is it simply to establish a major collection of recorded island music at James Cook University, although both are major aims. The significance' of the project perhaps lies mainly in the musical transcription of songs collected, as this will provide a much wider and easier access to the literature by scholars, teachers, and professional musicians. Musical analysis of style, musical form, scalar structure, etc., will be facilitated and ready comparison of variants of songs obtained through this project as well as from other sources will be made possible. This analysis has already commenced on a small scale alongside the preliminary musical transcription, and elements of this work have been incorporated in several James Cook University teacher education music subjects.
Further implications for general education exist. Folk songs of various cultures constitute an important component in most primary and secondary school music programs, both for their musical value and as mirrors of social context. As a literate society we rely primarily upon printed sources for our material, and, as noted above, there are precious few examples of Torres Strait songs currently in print. The "Songs of the Torres Strait" research project promises to eventually provide a substantial published body of music upon which interested teachers and musicians can draw.
Several songs collected via the project have been arranged by the author for children's choirs. Several performances have resulted and the arrangements are currently under consideration for publication by a leading Australian educational organization. This avenue will further disseminate Torres Strait Island song into the greater Australian community.
If lack of access to Torres Strait music has been a problem in the past, then one hopes that this project is a step toward rectifying the situation. A first volume of Torres Strait Island songs is projected for publication in 1989, with further volumes to appear regularly thereafter. Perhaps then a greater sharing of this rich and beautiful song tradition will occur.
Beckett, Jeremy. (1960). Traditional Music of the Torres Strait. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Haddon, Alfred C. (1901-1935). Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait (Vols. 1-6). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, Ross. (1973-1974). Torres Strait Islanders: A Collection of Music.
|Title:||Schooling the Torres Strait Islander 1871-1941|
|Institution:||Macarthur Institute of Higher Education|
The research project Schooling the Torres Strait Islander 1871-1941 is being undertaken as a Ph.D. thesis in Education at the University of Sydney. It focuses on the aims, practices and outcomes of schooling provided by the London Missionary Society (L.M.S.) and the Queensland government in the Reserve Islands of Torres Strait prior to World War 11 and makes particular reference to the responses of Islander communities. The study aims to assess what role schooling played in the changes brought to these communities by the implementation of mission and government policies towards Islanders, the extent to which these were achieved, the issues of policy and practice which were significant in the process, and the ways in which Islander communities used schooling and teachers selectively in adapting to the forces of colonialism.
As a history of education the study employs historical data to answer a number of educational questions. Its historiography incorporates current approaches in researching culture contact between Europeans and indigenous peoples of Australia and the Pacific in the era of England's colonial expansion such as invasion and resistance of Islanders' selective and creative adaptations to change. It uses primary and secondary sources of document data as well as interview data gathered from field research in the Torres Strait Islands in 1982. These data allow for some chronology in the account of schooling given in the early chapters of the thesis after which there is educational analysis of the key issues of policy, curriculum, teachers and their training, and the responses of Islander communities.
This study is now in its final stages and some tentative conclusions can be drawn. One conclusion is that after almost seventy years of schooling, most of which was compulsory, Islanders showed little benefit from it educationally, socially, economically, or politically. The achievements of both mission and government in schooling the Islander child were marginal. A number of reasons account for this including Eurocentric policies, problems of provision and supervision, isolation, poor quality teachers, and Islanders' attitudes. Unlike other major institutions of the colonial order, the church, the commercial fisheries, and island councils, schooling could not be "domesticated" by Islander communities in ways which might serve community purposes. Indeed, given children's difficulties with English, the medium of instruction, and curricula completely beyond their ken, much of what was taught in school remained an unfathomable mystery to them.
However, the study does produce some evidence to show that Islanders resisted certain aspects of schooling such as compulsory attendance, "vocational" curricula, and government employment, particularly in the 1930's. At the same time they were seeking educational exchanges using the same principles which governed trading relationships in the past. While Islanders' exchange of their children's attendance for white people's knowledge more often than not was unequal in that they came to know that the government set a "mark" on how far Islanders could go at school, some equal exchanges were made through interrelationships with white and Islander teachers. The study, therefore, challenges the notion found almost universally in accounts of colonial schooling that the colonised were passive victims of its controlling ideology. It takes the more recent view, that the colonised played an active role in colonial schooling, a stage further by exploring the dynamics of the colonised's role using the evidence of field data.
This study, therefore, has significance not only in extending our understanding of the history of European contact in the Torres Strait Islands, being the first major inquiry into the schooling of Islanders, but also in contributing to the small but important area of literature reassessing conventional notions about colonial schooling. It rightly recognises the ways in which Islanders attempted to influence the directions of schooling as part of their ongoing quest to creatively adapt to the changes forced upon them by the colonial order.
|Title:||Developing a Teacher-Education Program for Indigenous Students Living in Remote Communities of the Torres Strait and Other Remote Areas of North Queensland.|
|Institution:||Division of Aboriginal and Islander Education|
Although the program has met with considerable success in its aims to graduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers from both its Primary and its Early Childhood Education Diploma of Teaching courses, it has become evident that there has been a disproportionately small number of applicants from the remote communities of the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula and Gulf areas. A project was set up to generate proposals for ways by which teacher-education programs could be established so that students could remain in home communities for some or most of the program.
This second part consisted of a series of consultative sessions, over six months, between the Program Planner and representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Each of these consultations generated statements of the teacher-education needs and aspirations of the communities themselves. Each statement was thoroughly discussed and was ultimately written into the final proposal.
The process of discussion, consultation, and needs-identification has indicated a very acute awareness, amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, of the need for teacher-education programs conducted mostly in students' home communities so that students could study to become teachers without having to sever their close kinship and cultural ties with their communities.
There was considerable enthusiasm for a model of teacher-education which would combine off-campus (community-based) and on-campus (university-based) modes of study. A range of models has been proposed, each model combining differing modes such as vacation schools, action-research type activities, teaching through external-studies approaches, and periods of conventional study on the university campus.
|Please cite as: QIER (1988). Research reports 4(2). Queensland Researcher, 4(2), 75-91. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr4/res-repts-4-2.html|