Issue 8
Monday, 05 June 2017
Charles Darwin University
Dr Al Strangeways (left) and Dr Lisa Papatraianou with their re-mapped landscape of resilience
Dr Al Strangeways (left) and Dr Lisa Papatraianou with their re-mapped landscape of resilience

‘Truer, broader’ picture of resilience

By Patrick Nelson

Two research colleagues say their analysis of an Indigenous school teacher’s reflections on resilience has allowed them to challenge traditional Western thinking on the subject.

Dr Al Strangeways and Dr Lisa Papatraianou from CDU’s International Graduate Centre of Education told the Knowledge Intersections Conference in Alice Springs recently that Western thought limited the understanding of resilience in particular contexts.

“Our case study was based on nine interviews gathered over seven years with an early-career teacher who works at a community school in Central Australia’s Arrernte country,” Dr Strangeways said.

“What we found was a strong voice that challenged the norms that constrain our understanding of teacher resilience in an authentic way.

“This ‘different thinking’ prompted us to redraw the complex landscape of resilience in the form of a map, which offers multiple layers of interpretation as well as a spatial representation of our findings.

“So you will see three dominant, constructed Western ‘highways’ of resilience, named Individualistic, Value-laden and Absolute, which are encompassed by broader regions, named Ecological, Transactional and Relative.

“Several pathways, representing the teacher’s lived experience, move across this landscape of highways and regions.”

Dr Papatraianou said the choice of particular colours added further meaning: green represented trees, grasses and the environment in which a person lived; yellow represented the nourishing and desiccating effects of the sun, as well as the differing values underpinning resilience; and red-purple represents the ranges in the environment and the relativeness of resilience.

“The result is a picture of an individual’s experience of teacher resilience that reaches beyond the mainstream urban, middle-class and Western-oriented cultural context,” she said.

“We would argue that this represents a truer, broader picture of resilience, although not an exclusive one.”