Advertisements designed to advance Australian Aboriginal Youth

My friend Dr Chris Sarra’s Stronger Smarter Institute, QUT has put up on youtube two ads designed to encourage Aboriginal youth to continue their education. I think they are very good. Please circulate as widely as possible



6 thoughts on “Advertisements designed to advance Australian Aboriginal Youth

  1. Nell Blair says:

    What a shame your friend Dr Chris Sarra had to produce fictitious data from his purported achievements at Cherbourg State School to promote himself. For example, he wrote in the Griffith review that of 21 students in year 7, 82% achieved the literacy standard. The most students he ever had in year 7 was mostly about half that and according to an amended HREOC report, 63% DID NOT achieve the literacy standard. The first time he was Qlder of the Year, and we must examine who sits on the selection panel, only 4 students gradauted into high school from a cohort of 50 births for that year. Most students who got into high school came from the two Murgon primary schools. Where are his 4 graduates now?
    What does that tell you about the person? What type of personality would lie to promote themselves? You will locate that identity to psychopathology. Very convincing at face value but this should be about the students not about afraudulent poser.

  2. The myth of Chris Sarra, like the myth of Noel Pearson, is a construction of white commentary. Both offer an elitist/assimilationist symbol to justify the underlying myth that the cause of Aboriginal disadvantage is dysfunction and/or deficiency in the Aboriginal people themselves.

    I have been searching for some pedagogical framework of Chris Sarra but cant find any, although I am sure it exists. I have studied carefully Noel Pearson’s economic and cultural program and it has nothing to do with the commentary about him by either the left or the right. The truth is, the white commentary does not need to understand any coherent Aboriginal framework in order to construct white myths about Aboriginality, because the mythology is woven totally on a white loom.

    As for the videos above (that seem to have been removed?)…….

    They are a double edged sword. While they may be good advice to students who are high scholastic or sports achievers, what message do they send to those who are not, especially those who for any of many reasons is alienated from the mainstream education system? These videos will be shown to a wide audience, not just to high scholastic and sporting achievers.

    It is always dangerous to present moral stereotypes to young people, but this is what the videos do. Not only do they create a “good” stereotype – of success in the white system – but it also offers convenient “bad” stereotypes for those who are not scholastic or sporting heroes to identify with – the losers hanging around the edge of school and not taking it seriously.

    I fully support the philosophy of high expectation and the slogan of learn and earn, but those who are not high achievers in the mainstream education system also have to be subject to high expectations and support in their own chosen life-paths rather than be belittled and demonised because they do not fit into the school status-quo – as the videos do.

    School and sport have no monopoly on the words smart and success.

  3. Hello John,

    For some reason YouTube blocked the videos that encourage Aboriginal youth to continue their education. I have provided the links below.

    Perhaps Chris Sarra practices ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ or ‘Critical Pedagogy’ as outlined in the book of the same name by Paolo Freire.

    If anyone is interested there is a Brazilian who worked with Freire currently visiting Brisbane who will give a talk on Paolo Freire at UQ soon.

    I can get the details if anyone is interested.

    28 Feb 2011


    1. Comrades

      might be interested to have a look at some of the work of the progressive state bureaucracy in the field of Indigenous Education in Queensland. Historically Indigenous Australians were excluded, often brutally, from the mainstream education system. The epoch of exclusion gradually moved in the latter part of the 20th Century into a process of Inclusion. However exclusion never really went away, though it did morph into procedures like insisting on uniforms and shoes for those who could afford neither and above all to the enshrining of low expectations of Indigenous students.


      The period of Inclusion was also the period of what Badiou has pointed out; everyone is counted but no one counts, so this was modernity at its most formal and abstract. What is being tried at the urging of Indigenous educators, such as Chris Sarra, now is to aim for beyond Inclusion to Belonging through the procedures of Connectedness.


      I urge any comrades interested in education and especially those with contacts with native Americans to look up the video at this link:



  4. SZ Bissett says:

    I note that in a recent debate with Noel Pearson, Dr Sarra claims that Stronger Smarter is an emancipatory philosophy (The Australian May 13 2011). However Nell (above) makes some very valid points. I suspect both systems are inherently assimilationist. However from the evidence I would have to suggest that the Stronger Smarter approach possibly does allow more authentic local inputs than the DI model. Although Dr Sarra has attracted some considerable government funds from both Julia Guillard (16.4 million in 2010) as well as private corporate funding, Noel Preston is even more seriously compromised. In a landmark speech in 2000 Pearson signalled his transition from land rights activist to conservative power broker, blaming hard-won human rights for ruining black lives (Chris Graham, Overland 200 Spring 2010). His public alliance with Tony Abbott attracted lots of corporate dollars, and frankly the results from the Cape just don’t show decent returns. The stats are no more reliable than the one Nell quotes re the Sarra years at Cherbourg.
    As experienced educator of Indigenous young people, I would like to say that the whole “Closing that Gap” movement is a push towards stripping the younger generation of Indigenous learners of the last shreds of their cultural identity. Aboriginal children in general have different strengths: it is only the insane emphasis being put on “literacy” and numeracy” in the current educational climate that have created deficit model. Being able to read books is in no way superior than being able to track and “read” country, Being able to do complex metal mathematical calculations is in no way superior to being able to understand complex kinship systems. There’s nothing wrong with our Indigenous learners. There is a lot wrong with our value systems.

  5. Correction says:

    Hello Sue,

    Thanks for your comment.

    In it you refer to ‘Noel Preston’, I am sure you meant to say ‘Noel Pearson’.

    For readers who may not know, Noel Preston was ‘a concerned christian’ who campaigned tirelessly for democratic rights in Queensland in the 1970s & 80s.

    in solidarity

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