Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 9–28
Author: David Zyngier (Faculty of Education, Monash University, Peninsula Campus)
Educational research often portrays culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised (CLED) children’s disengagement from school learning as individual behaviour, ignoring the contribution of race, gender, socio-cultural, ethnic and social class factors. This paper analyses a specific community engagement programme in Australia which uses experiential learning in an informal setting. The programme, which has been running for seven years, partners pre-service teachers, volunteer high school students and volunteers from a national bank with primary schools where many pupils are experiencing learning difficulties and school engagement problems as a result of their socio-economic status, their poverty, and their ethnic and cultural diversity. Drawing on the perspectives of the children and volunteers participating in the pilot study, and privileging their voices, this paper illustrates how community partnerships may be developed and sustained. The programme’s conceptual framework of Connecting-Owning-Responding-Empowering (CORE) pedagogy is explored for its potential to enhance student engagement, achievement and empowerment through focused community involvement. The findings show that when students feel connected to and involved in their community, all participants are empowered in their learning and teaching.