Yesterday, I bit the bullet and sent off a book proposal. Two other editors and I are planning to pull together a collection of materials documenting the history of bilingual education in the Northern Territory. Too many Aboriginal people are dying, becoming ill or exhausted, so this is a story that needs to be told, and soon. Several recent funerals have been sad reminders of this.
Bilingual education has been a contested area of policy in several nations for the last few decades. Australia’s bilingual education experiments have been no exception. What this book proposes to do is to present a thematic analysis of policies and practices as they applied to Indigenous students in remote areas of Australia, and to draw parallels with comparable educational experiences in Canada, the United States and elsewhere. At different times programs operated in twenty-four remote schools using up to twenty-five Aboriginal languages to assist with the teaching of curriculum content.
Samantha Disbray, Nancy Devlin and I plan to set the history of the bilingual education program within its broader sociopolitical and cultural context, with respect to Indigenous rights, and policies concerning language and education in Australia. The volume will draw together grassroots perspectives of practitioners and researchers, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. These will be supplemented by invited chapters of varying lengths.