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Cultural Assets within Australian Faith Based Schooling

Open Panel

Abstract

Twentieth century studies using deficit and difference approaches to analyse cultural contexts relating to schools have influenced educational research and general political thinking concerning fragmentation, segregation and faith schools. I contend that this influence has led to stretching the use of concepts such as ‘cultural capital’ beyond their original context. This raises questions concerning the extent of their usefulness in a world characterised by globalisation, post-secularism and the rise of faith based schools. Responding to these concerns an assets-based approach to analysing cultural contexts is emerging within sociocultural studies. Using a multi-disciplinary theoretical underpinning I have developed a cultural assets model of analysis of more general use in understanding the cultural assets found in all schools and in particular reference to faith schools. A cultural assets approach to educational analysis cuts through the idea of parallel secular and religious communities. Further, in the Australian context, the idea of complete segregation between faith schools and the state is not possible due to legislative requirements that reflect Australian cultural practices and traditions. Therefore, faith schools reflect a level of complementarity to the objectives of a liberal secular state. However, these schools strive to continue their effectiveness whilst remaining distinctive.