An adventure of insight in ethnography and pedagogy
: learning/teaching relationships and the production of knowledge in the crosscultural classroom

  • Neil Evans Harrison

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This study is set in a university context. It is divided into two parts: ethnography and pedagogy. It draws on extended interviews with nine indigenous students studying at the Northern Territory University to examine the parallel relation between the informant and the ethnographer, and the student and the teacher. Different theoretical positions are taken, including crosscultural and critical theories as well as Lacanian psychoanalysis, in an endeavour to explore how a relation is actually produced in a crosscultural pedagogy.

    I began the research as a crosscultural ethnographer. Accordingly, I assumed that I had access to the informants' knowledge and that I could transmit this knowledge to readers. After I wrote my first interpretation of the data (see Preface and Appendix One) I had to reassess these two assumptions. The research then is a critique of transmission-based theories of knowledge and learning where indigenous students are trained in the knowledge and power of the pedagogue. While most research in crosscultural education has been directed at finding out how an indigenous student can learn from the non-indigenous teacher, this study focuses on a different question:

    How does an indigenous student learn outside the non-indigenous pedagogue's knowledge and power in the crosscultural classroom?

    The study turns to critical pedagogic theories for some insight. These theories bring us to the point of understanding that knowledge and learning are produced through a crosscultural relation but they do not show us how this relation is actually produced in the classroom nor how a student can learn outside transmission-based theories of education. This research compares the interview data and critical pedagogic theories to investigate the disparity between what the pedagogue wants in the theories and what the informants want in classroom practice at the Northern Territory University. This raised another key question for the research: 
    What does the student want? 
    The research examines how a discourse of negotiation is always already at work, albeit hidden, in the relation between the student and the pedagogue in the classroom. Intersubjective knowledge and a type of learning are produced through this relation between them. The thesis examines how the relation is produced through speech and dialogue.
    Date of Award2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMichael Christie (Supervisor) & Merridy Malin (Supervisor)

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