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ACAL Conference - 3, 4, 5 October 2019 - Sydney

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers:

Dr Roslyn Appleby (UTS)


Animals, Arts, and Adult Literacies

In this presentation I speak to two issues of relevance for educators in the field of adult literacy. The first issue concerns the ways in which educators engage with environmentalism in their pedagogical practices and, in particular, how we might view environmentalism through the lens of our relationship with non-human animals. The second issue concerns the ways in which educators engage with the visual arts and multimodality in teaching and learning. I discuss how these two broad issues overlap in interesting ways and how each can provide a rich source of inspiration for education in adult literacy. I will be drawing on my own experience of literacies in higher education with the aim of sparking further discussions about the important role of animals, the environment, and the arts in our professional practices.

Roslyn is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research interests include the cultural politics of language and literacy, critical gender studies, and human-animal relationships. She is the author of ‘ELT, Gender and International Development’ (Multilingual Matters, 2010), and ‘Men and Masculinity in Global English Language Teaching’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and ‘Sexing the Animal in a Posthumanist World’ (Routledge, forthcoming).


Professor Dr Anke Grotlueschen (Hamburg University)


Vulnerability in Adult Life - and how it affects Numeracy Practices

Do numeracy practices rise or decline since the 1990ies? How do adults handle lower income after retirement? Do women manage small money while men care for big money? Is debt and homelessness caused by not controlling your budget? How confident do Syrian students feel towards mathematics? Do low numerate adults receive more training than others? And is there any numeracy in the Sustainable Development Goals? The Hamburg Numeracy Project (2017-2020) gives fresh answers, showing the relevance of Numeracies for being critical and for getting your fair share. Moreover, the data contradict stereotypes regarding vulnerable phases in adult life: Those who need to manage tight budgets, calculate more often than others, not vice versa (Grotlüschen et al. 2019). Still, gender and literacy-based inequalities are visible in many ways.
Literaturverzeichnis Grotlüschen, A., Buddeberg, K., Redmer, A., Ansen, H. and Dannath, J. (2019). Vulnerable Subgroups and Numeracy Practices: How Poverty, Debt, and Unemployment Relate to Everyday Numeracy Practices. "Adult Education Quarterly" 1 (10), 074171361984113. doi:10.1177/0741713619841132

Anke is Professor for Lifelong Learning (W3) at Hamburg University. She oversees some four million Euro research grants mostly focused on assessment, literacy and lifelong learning. This includes the development of so-called Alpha-Levels within and below the PIAAC Level One in order to further investigate low skilled populations. The development of formative assessment items in literacy and numeracy (2010) as well as the participation in the OECD What Works study on Formative Assessment (2008) led to the nationwide Level One Survey (2011).

Professor Ralf St. Clair (University of Victoria, Canada)

What we do with words, and what they do with us

Identity—who we are and who we aspire to be—is embedded in relationship, and relationship is all about language. In this keynote, Ralf will consider some of the contradictions and complexities that arise from the work that we do, especially in an era of increasingly complex and globalized identities. Our sexualities, our class backgrounds, our abilities, our education, all play out within our relationship with written language and other symbol systems. Questions around what it means to be literate and who can make that claim are becoming more pressing, as are concerns with the viability of civil discourse, critical perspectives, and self-expression. As literacy educators, we are located near the centre of this hurricane, with enormous responsibility to inspire learners to engage with questions of language and who they want to be in this world. Now is the time for us to work together to create and preserve the solid ground upon which we can do what we do with words.

Ralf is Professor and Dean of Education at the University of Victoria in Canada. He is currently the Chair of the Association of BC Deans of Education, and a member of the Canadian Commission to UNESCO and the BC Council for Admissions and Transfer. He is an active teacher, focusing on the education of adults, literacy, research methods, curriculum studies, and international education. Ralf has been an active researcher for several decades, having studied adult education and literacy, educational aspirations, and Indigenous education. The common thread running through his work is a concern with equity and accessibility in education. Currently,Ralf is completing a project on the educational aspirations of Indigenous communities and youth. His most recent book was “Creating courses for adults: Design for learning,” published by Wiley in 2015.

Amy Thomas (UTS)

Navigating the ‘safety zone’: assimilation, self-determination and Indigenous engagement with bilingual schooling in Australia
Bilingual schooling for Indigenous language speaking students emerged as a state policy in the Northern Territory in 1973, and can arguably be characterised as having two basic phases: a flourishing, up to the mid-1990s, and a squandering, from the late 1990s to today. This paper will apply a concept of ‘safety zone’ developed by K Tsianina Lomawaima and Teresa L McCarty to understand the contest between ideas of assimilation and self-determination in Indigenous bilingual schooling in an Australian context—particularly, how they were experienced by Indigenous educators and literacy practitioners. Lomawaima and McCarty describe the ‘safety zone’ as a metaphor representing what settler state government policy deems acceptable in terms of how to include Indigenous languages and cultures in schooling systems. Importantly, however, there’s a tension embedded in the zone: the state’s conception of ‘safe’ difference can be challenged by Indigenous attempts to build a safe place of difference on Indigenous terms. Within the safety zone, there is near constant movement, negotiation, resistance, and compulsion. This paper draws on my research examining case studies of Indigenous controlled schooling, and challenges to control within government schools. My research asks: To what extent was bilingual education considered ‘safe’, and why? And did the Indigenous’ educators’ challenges to that system contest the space of ‘safeness’? By focusing particularly on the efforts of Indigenous teachers in developing their own approaches to schooling and literacy, I also aim to draw attention to the ways they sought to reshape schooling and literacy practices in both local languages and English in a way that suited the desires of their wider community for self-determination. Re-considering bilingual education in this way can assist us in reimagining the potential of education of, and challenges for, addressing inequality and racism in Indigenous education more generally—and inform the practices of adult literacy practitioners working in an Indigenous context.

Amy is an academic in the Adult Learning and Applied Linguistics program at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where she is also a Shopfront Community Research Fellow. Her PhD research focuses on the history of Australian colonial ideology, English in education, and the contest between ideas of self-determination and assimilation in Indigenous bilingual schooling in northern Australia since the 1970s. For an essay on this topic, she was awarded the Northern Territory Literary Award in 2018 in the Essay category. She is currently co-researcher on an historical media analysis project, ‘Representing Indigenous interests in Australian policy discourse’, with Heidi Norman and Andrew Jakubowicz. Her research interests include critical studies in education policy, language planning and policy, and historical and educational sociology, focusing on issues of social justice in late modern Australia.


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University of Technology Sydney