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Discourses of dominance : Saskatchewan adult basic education curriculum and Aboriginal learners



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The intention of this work is to explore how Aboriginal learners are produced in the Saskatchewan Adult Basic Education (ABE) curriculum. In addition, this study examines the production of instructor identities in the curriculum. This thesis explores the social and historical contexts influencing the production of the ABE curriculum. Current prevailing discourses about Aboriginal people influence the curriculum documents. These discourses construct a grand narrative about Aboriginal people, producing Aboriginal people in particular ways that become acceptable and legitimate ways of thinking about and behaving toward Aboriginal people. This work examines how such a grand narrative functions to uphold dominance and structural inequalities rather than challenge them. The effect of reinforcing the current, particular grand narrative about Aboriginal people is that, rather than challenge dominant ideologies, the new curriculum re-inscribes them. This work employs the methodology of discourse analysis as a means of examining the production of particular identities for Aboriginal learners in ABE and uses deconstruction to explore the ways that the documents betray themselves in relation to their objectives. This thesis provides analysis of the ways that the curriculum documents produce and reproduce Aboriginal people as deficient and requiring change. This work provides analysis of the conflict within the documents between a desire to challenge dominance and the re-inscription of dominance through discursive practices. In addition, this work demonstrates how the ABE curriculum aids in the production of dominant instructor identities, and how such dominant identities assist instructors to define themselves as innocent and helpful. This analysis of the ABE curriculum reveals that while the curriculum aspires to be a proponent of social justice for Aboriginal learners it has many weaknesses in this regard. This work concludes with recommendations for changes to the curriculum and instructor practices, and for further critical analysis.



BE Redesign, Saskatchewan demographic reports, Saskatchewan Labour Market Trends Report, social construction of Aboriginal identities, post-structuralism, Foucault, Derrida



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


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Educational Foundations


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