The Classroom Line Up: A First Nations Perspective

I recently broached the topic of the ‘Classroom Line-Up’ with my husband, who is of First Nations descent. I was interested in learning if First Nations communities may have different perspectives about the act of the classroom Line-Up.

I firmly believe that we as educators, all need to work to integrate First Nations, Metis, & Inuit strategies and perspectives into our classroom. We also need to understand the historical and present day influences of the Indian Act of 1876, and the Residential School System within Canada. I think that it is also interesting to understand the practices and mainstays within our school system, and the impact of other cultures viewing these practices in different ways.

So when I brought up the question of how would First Nations communities view  this concept of having students ‘Line up’ in the classroom, I learned something very important about his culture.

First Nations communities are just that, very community minded, and community based. You have heard the expression ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’, and First Nations Communities are no exception. An inherent belief is often that children need to be explorative, without boundaries.

Where mainstream culture would place a lot of importance on having that straight line-up at the door, many Traditional teachers would allow students to explore, and choose how to walk from one point to another. This stems from a deeper belief that people need to find their own paths in life. You walk along those paths that are set out for you in life, and you never deviate too far from those paths. If you do deviate too far from your main path, this is when you will face the most problems.

This caused me to reflect on how we as educators can all work to help students find the best path for themselves, and to try different things out on their own, rather than having it dictated, lectured, or prescribed. It also made me reflect on how we as educators can make the Education system a safer place for not just students who are First Nations, Metis, or Inuit descent, but for everyone.

Creating real change in our Education System goes beyond implementing strategies such as restorative practice, talking circles and other holistic and culturally relevant teaching practices. It also extends to how we implement our everyday school rules, policies and procedures. We need to help empower all students to find their own paths in life.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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