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Indigenous pedagogy and learning oct2011
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Indigenous pedagogy and learning oct2011


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  • 1. Aboriginal Perspectives on Teaching and Learning Presented by: Carrie Bourassa, Ph.D. Associate Professor Indigenous Health Studies First Nations University of Canada
  • 2. Terms and Definitions
    • Aboriginal
    • Status/Treaty Indian (First Nations)
    • Métis
    • Inuit
    • Indigenous
    • Native
    • Bill C-31 (1985)
  • 3. Bill C-31 “Indian Act Math”
    • As of 1985:
    • 6(1) + NS = 6(2)
    • 6(2) + NS = NS
    • BUT
    • 6(1) + 6(2) = 6(1)
    • 6(2) + 6(2) = 6(1)
  • 4. Continued Impact of Colonization
    • Why is understanding the impact of colonization important in the academic environment?
    • - We still see gaps in education levels and preparedness;
    • - There are still high drop out rates, high levels of poverty, addictions and violence in many Aboriginal communities;
    • - Many Aboriginal students struggle with their identities and this impacts self-esteem;
    • - Many Aboriginal students have different worldviews and learn in different ways.
  • 5. Indigenous Knowledge
    • Indigenous Knowledge (IK) – is as diverse as Indigenous people.
    • IK is rooted in language.
    • IK is both empirical (experiential) and normative (based on social values).
    • Knowledge teaches people to be responsible for their own lives.
    • Values are deeply embedded within IK.
    • Story/narrative is important and were/are used to instil values and teach lessons.
    • IK is a process derived from creation and is inherent in all of creation, nature and human existence.
    • Learning is viewed as a life long process.
  • 6. Indigenous Pedagogy
    • Indigenous pedagogy values a person’s ability to learn independently by observing and listening and encourages experiential learning.
    • Indigenous epistemology is found in philosophies, histories, stories, and ceremonies as ways of knowing.
    • Indigenous pedagogy is found in talking/sharing circles, dialogues, participant observations, experiential learning, modeling, meditation, prayer, ceremony, or story telling as ways of knowing and learning.
    • Aboriginal people are generally diverse learners and need a variety of teaching techniques/styles.
  • 7. Indigenous Pedagogy
    • Contemporary educational philosophy focuses on education of the masses and often ignores knowledge that comes from introspection, prayer, meditation, and other self-directed learning.
    • Providing cultural content in a multi-cultural context will not address the high recidivism rates among Aboriginal students.
    • Knowledge systems can; however, be blended.
    • This does raise the question of whose knowledge is being validated in educational institutions? Whose knowledge is seen as “superior” or “valid”?
  • 8.
    • “ The pedagogical challenge of Canadian education is not just reducing the distance between Eurocentric thinking and Aboriginal ways of knowing but engaging decolonized minds and hearts”. Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education A Literature Review with Recommendations. Ottawa, ON: Assembly of First Nations.
  • 9. Possible Teaching and Learning Strategies
    • “ The professor/student relationship is the foundation for facilitating the success of First Nations students” – Dr. Herman Michell, First Nations University of Canada
  • 10. Possible Teaching and Learning Strategies
    • - Use a variety of methods where possible – group work, projects, guest speakers (Elders if possible/applicable), engage in discussion even when using lecture style, use narrative or storytelling where possible/appropriate and examples to illustrate what you are trying to teach students.
    • - Make an effort to learn their names.
  • 11. Possible Teaching and Learning Strategies
    • - Include Aboriginal content where applicable (use Aboriginal examples where possible/applicable) or use scenarios that reflect real life experiences.
    • - Create an inviting and safe environment where open dialogue can occur in a respectful way.
    • - Keep in mind that English may not be her/his first language.
    • - Understand that sometimes family (extended family also) issues may sometime take precedence over school.
    • - Understand that many Aboriginal students face racism on a daily basis
    • - Acknowledge systemic racism exists
  • 12. Possible Teaching and Learning Strategies
    • Understand that for many Aboriginal students, they are the first one to attend university and it can be a very big adjustment.
    • Try to balance humanistic concerns with high expectations and keep the channels of communication open so that students can approach you should they encounter difficulties .
  • 13. References/Resources
    • AERC: Aboriginal Educational Research Centre
    • Aikenhead, G. (2002). “Cross-cultural Science Teaching: Rekindling Traditions for Aboriginal Students” in Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology, Vol. 2, Iss. 3, pp. 287-304.
    • Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education A Literature Review with Recommendations. Ottawa, ON: Assembly of First Nations.
    • Better Teaching and Learning with Indigenous Students
  • 14. References/Resources
    • Faculty Guide to First Nations and Métis Students
    • First Nations Pedagogy Online
    • Aboriginal Education: A Research Brief for Practitioners, University of Alberta - Effective Practices for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learner Programs
  • 15. Contact Information
    • Dr. Carrie Bourassa
    • Associate Professor
    • Indigenous Health Studies
    • Dept. of Inter-disciplinary
    • First Nations University of Canada
    • 790-5950 ext. 3331
    • [email_address]
  • 16.