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Indigenous Australian music and dance in West-centrically oriented primary classrooms

Smith, Robert George (1998). Indigenous Australian music and dance in West-centrically oriented primary classrooms. PhD Thesis, Northern Territory University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Smith, Robert George
Title Indigenous Australian music and dance in West-centrically oriented primary classrooms
Institution Northern Territory University
Publication Date 1998
Thesis Type PhD
Subjects 1303 - Specialist Studies in Education
Abstract This research focused on trialing the intercultural communication of Indigenous Australian music and dance, through a specified series of teaching and learning strategies, to urban west-centric primary school settings.

What seems evident is that teachers feel apprehensive about using processes of intercultural communication in music education and, in implementing these, how to meaningfully program appropriate teaching and learning. Understandably, rather than risk misinterpreting the music of other cultures or the protocols involved, teachers may avoid teaching other than the music of their own cultures.

The research addressed three primary research questions relating to the application of a series of music-specific teaching learning strategies to the communication, in this instance, of Indigenous Australian worldviews of music and its adjuncts to students west-centric educational settings.

Philosophies of qualitative ethnography and of action research were embraced in the research design. These underpinned educational theories incorporated in a series of teaching and learning strategies. The series evolved in part out of my own experience and through observation of effective teaching practices both here in Australia and overseas.

The research methodology involved participant observation, viewing the research as a case study. Quota sampling was employed in recruiting the four classes of students and their female teachers from urban schools in Darwin and Palmerston in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia.

Data was collected through video analysis and subsequent group interview and transcribed to a database. Performing arts material and concepts were drawn entirely from existing resources, such as Alice Moyle's video, audio and text resource package "Music and Dance in Traditional Indigenous Australian Culture," and recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation primary school song-books. Their use in west-centric settings was agreed on in consultation with informed Indigenous Australian people.


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