Teaching Asian-Australian identities through literature

Publisher:
ALEA
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Literacy learning: the Middle Years, 2007, 15 (3), pp. 29 - 38
Issue Date:
2007-01
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One of the most critical issues for English teachers in Australia concerns teaching Asian-Australian identities. This paper will take a literary approach to this topic, and use Only the Heart by Brian Caswell and David Phu An Chiem (1997), and Dreaming Australia by Steve Tolbert (2004) as pedagogic tools. These texts are starting points for discussing the many intersections between Asian and Australian identities. The emphasis of this paper is on perceptions of Asian-Australian identities amongst young people, and how these can be used by English teachers to create worthwhile and exciting learning environments. The theoretical approach that will be elaborated is based upon a poststructural reading of textual practice, so that students relate book-study to identity-construction. In this instance, this means that the students will understand the ethical and cultural distinctions that are present in the texts, yet these will not be placed into hierarchical or fixed structures. Rather, students following these themes will be encouraged to engage with the other, and to look at Asian-Australian identities from a variety of perspectives. At each critical point or issue in the texts, the dynamic and moving basis for teaching Asian-Australian identities will be emphasised.
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