Coming home to place: Aboriginal Lore and place-responsive pedagogy for transformative learning in Australian outdoor education

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In a significant way, the growing body of place-responsive research and practice within outdoor education in Australia can be perceived as an eco-inspired response to both the devastating impact of colonization on our ecological communities and the concomitant sense of “placelessness” or lack of a sense of belonging and purpose experienced by many Australians. In this regard, there has always been an ally in Aboriginal Lore, which worked to maintain ecological and social balance and wellness in Australia for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. Yet, it has been argued that many outdoor education programmes continue to perpetuate the colonial and anthropocentric discourses clearly responsible for much of this ecological and social damage. Not surprisingly, several place-responsive proponents have flagged the value of local partnerships between outdoor educators and Aboriginal people. This paper offers a brief critique of these dominant discourses and their impact upon outdoor education practice, followed by an exploration of what partnerships with local Aboriginal people might look like and offer. To this end, transformative and conversational processes will be proposed, supported, and nuanced with evidence from an intercultural collaboration project undertaken in the Northern Territory in 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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