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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
Wednesday, June 17 • 3:00pm - 4:00pm
CON04.08 - Turning the tables: Bringing Aboriginal pedagogies into academic practice

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I attended a roundtable focused on “Indigenizing The Classroom,” hoping to learn about “best practices” for incorporating Aboriginal pedagogies in post-secondary courses. Instead, presenters focused on incorporating indigenous content. When I asked presenters to comment on how they used Aboriginal pedagogies, they responded: “there aren’t any,” “it would be inappropriate,” and “it is impossible.” I was unsatisfied. Each Aboriginal community maintains its own protocols and philosophies concerning how to teach and learn in a good way. Some of these pedagogies are grounded in specific environments, languages, relationships, and systems. It is neither possible nor appropriate to extract these highly localized philosophies and practices from their cultural contexts. Yet there are several Aboriginal practices and philosophies that are more generalized, that can be mobilized effectively in post-secondary classrooms. These approaches include valuing oral testimony; seeking wisdom from one’s elders; sharing findings with one’s community; and taking a four-directions approach (especially engaging heart, body, and spirit in addition to the mind). In 2014, I put my research on Aboriginal pedagogies into practice, with outstanding outcomes for students and myself. In “Turning the Tables,” I present my findings, drawing from cutting-edge scholarship on “Indigenizing the Academy,” student feedback, and my own experiences. This presentation will explain how Aboriginal pedagogies work, with practical examples related to instruction, student engagement, assignments, and evaluation. I will demonstrate how decentring colonial educational approaches can acknowledge and encourage both cultural and scholastic diversity. Attendees will be invited to reflect on their own teaching practice in a circle discussion.

Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Limited.

Graveline, F. J. (1998). Circle Works: Transforming Eurocentric consciousness. Halifax: Fernwood.

Hill, E. (2012). A critique of the call to ‘always indigenize!’. Peninsula 2(1). Retrieved from http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/peninsula/article/view/11513/3212

Mihesuah, D. A. and Wilson, A. C. (Eds.). (2004). Indigenizing the academy: Transforming scholarship and empowering communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.


Wednesday June 17, 2015 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Director Room

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