School of Social and Policy Research, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Northern Territory, 0909, Australia
This paper addresses the potential importance of assistant teachers in confronting the challenges of Indigenous literacy education. A discussion is raised with reference to a range of relevant literature, while reflections drawn from the author's involvement in evaluating the National Accelerated Literacy Program (NALP) in the Northern Territory are used to highlight an urgent need and vital opportunity to support assistant teachers – as mainstay figures in Indigenous education – in becoming “wellsprings” of literate practice and principled pedagogy. An overview of Accelerated Literacy methodology and the NALP is provided as a framework for considering how to embed strong literate practices and principled pedagogy in remote Indigenous communities through the provision of empowering professional development to Indigenous assistant teachers: facilitating for them a genuine and qualified status as literacy educators. The prospects and challenges of pursuing such an opportunity, in the context of NALP, are likewise considered.
James Cooper completed his doctorate at the Australian Catholic University, investigating the moral-philosophical foundations of contemporary approaches to moral education. He was formerly a teacher at Amata Anangu School in South Australia, and is now a Research Associate at Charles Darwin University's School of Social and Policy Research. While contributing to the DEET-commissioned evaluation of the National Accelerated Literacy Program, James has paid particular attention to the developing roles and requirements of Indigenous educators, and is also helping to develop research into the application of Accelerated Literacy methodology in adult education.