Challenging ‘deficit thinking’

Deficit thinking

Teachers must challenge ‘deficit  thinking’ and over-emphasis on gaps between the achievement levels of students.

When students’ academic outcomes are below expectations, teachers, or indeed the whole school, may view this as a problem characteristic within the child’s cultural background or within their family or community.

In challenging this kind of deficit thinking, it is important to look at the classroom and school environment. Teachers can start with the curriculum:

Literature provides students with mirrors into their own lives and windows into the lives of others. As teachers, it is vital that we provide mirrors and windows for all students that respect and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and peoples. We can provide windows for all students to gain perspectives into the lives of people who are similar to them and people who are different from them. We can provide mirrors for all children that are free from bias, stereotypes and racism.

To provide such mirrors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students requires us to assess our own knowledge, develop our skills and knowledge in recognising and assessing the suitability of materials and adopt both proactive and reflective practices in using literature in the classroom.