By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Radical Hope: Education and Equality in Australia
By Noel Pearson (Black Inc., $19.95, softcover, 229 pages)
One of Australia’s most innovative and provocative thinkers, Noel Pearson turns his attention to “how serious we become about the education of our people”.
He puts forward powerful arguments about the need for ‘underclass’ students, many of whom are Aboriginal, to receive meticulous schooling that will give them the means to traverse the wider world.
Underpinning his approach is a focus on acquiring fundamental skills like literacy and numeracy, being disciplined and refusing to accept excuses for failure. When it comes to learning, it is the teachers who should be responsible, more so than the students.
The two fundamental questions are: how can one ensure the survival of a people, their culture and way of life and can education transform the lives of the many disadvantaged or the privileged few?
Examining the long-term failure of the educational policy in Australia, Pearson also introduces new findings from research and practice, all the while, searching for the radical centre whereby the culture is preserved and every child’s needs met.
However, this lawyer, author and social essayist also argues for serious commitment from the Indigenous population.
He makes some convincing arguments and points out: “When one struggles against all odds, determination alone is no guarantee of success, but you won’t get very far without it. And sometimes it will seem as though determination is all that one has.
Part of the quality of seriousness is determination. Another part is discipline”.
There’s nothing new in the intelligence behind Pearson’s rhetoric. Education is the basic and crucial solution to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia.
Radical Hope also highlights the importance of preserving the essentials of Aboriginal culture and, as Pearson refers to it, the fires of the “cultural hearth” must not be allowed to die out.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.