Walking the Good Path in Life: Digital Citizenship and The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AMFrom a First Nations perspective, you ‘Walk the Good Path’ when you demonstrate The Seven Grandfather Teachings. When you live your best life, you demonstrate Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, & Bravery.

Now, this is true in our physical worlds, as it is in our virtual and digital worlds.

We all have a responsibility to help ALL people ‘Walk the Good Path’ in life.

In terms of our Education System, our Educators, just as our Children, are in need of the Seven Grandfather Teachings to continually learn how to create positive working environments, embed culturally relevant  and culturally responsive teaching practices for our students to foster confidence, and not fear.

Every single day, educators and students need to be honoured with open communication networks with staff, parents, and the community.

All people, need:

Love and Respect to strive for a mutual understanding of our own diversity;

Bravery to engage in Holistic Education each day and learn to live in harmony with each other;

Courage to follow the very Educational Initiatives that are put into place for the betterment of our students, and our society;

Humility to admit that we don’t have all of the answers;

Truth and Honesty to help us understand initiatives such as the Aboriginal Education Strategy that are a great benefit for all students, not just those self-identified as First Nations, Metis & Inuit.

The children of today are the leaders for tomorrow.

IF we train our children well, and treat them well, and honour their voices, THEN they will feel trusted, loved, and develop the courage to walk the good path toward their futures.

It is important to truly respect others, acknowledge their good work, cultural diversity, admit mistakes, strive to attain mutual understanding, create positive working environments, foster confidence and not fear.

Tens of Thousands of Educators have such an important leadership role in raising and educating an entire generation of children for the future. Just as it takes an entire ‘Village to Raise a Child’; our children, educators and other professionals also need Love, Respect, Humility, Courage, Bravery, Honesty, and Truth to grow as human beings, and continue to make the world a better place. Not just for now, but for generations to come.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012 – 2014. 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.

Educational Change, New Pedagogies with FNMI Knowledge

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Educational change and implementation of new pedagogies is essential in this day in age. This change also needs to equally encompass FNMI values, perspectives, cultures and knowledge.

The fastest growing population in Canada is the FNMI population. The ever increasing population of FNMI youth needs to be equally recognized in Canadian schools. If we do not all take a serious look at how we can change education to equally include the voices of our FNMI students, then there will be serious impacts on every major system in Canada.

Canada, with a very serious and devastating history toward FNMI people. By understanding the history, and using strategies to connect, remember, and provide restitution and recognition, we can begin to attempt to address the inherent problems and inequities that have been created over the past several centuries.

What is the answer?

The answers are not, nor will ever be simple. One reason for this is due to the fact that we have embedded Eurocentric perspectives and voices in our curriculum that we take for granted because they have become so normalized that we do not think that there could be any other ways of doing things.

Strategies:

What if we divided up each curriculum into the 4 sections of the Medicine Wheel, and base all learning on the 4 directions or evolving points of view? I have a vision that we could help classrooms, school culture and community to be aware of rituals, ceremonies, and traditions.

Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge also has the ability to develop important skills, particularly in Science, and helping students to understand the Environment and also movements such as Idle No More.

Many FNMI cultures have valued the importance that you don’t interfere with one’s autonomy and their personal choices in life.

Discover ways in the Education system to allow young people to learn things for themselves, at their own pace, and following their own chosen ‘thought leaders’ etc.

Western cultures are all about speaking for other people. Pause times are filled with the words of others. And hierarchies are set up within our Education Systems, both explicitly, and implicitly regarding who has the ‘most knowledge’, ie., the teacher in the classroom. But if we truly adopt the strategies that we know are effective, including quiet contemplation, active listening, and truly provide for student voice, then we have a chance for greater success for all.

This is in contrast to knowledge as being personal, and based on your relationship with something. What people go through in life for example as worthy of deep respect and as something that

I believe that Knowledge building is about helping students to build and develop meaningful relationships for themselves.

We also need to recognize the dichotomies between Indigenous and Eurocentric Languages. Indigenous languages are also verb focussed. Doing and process are central to many FNMI cultures, and directly embedded within languages. However, European languages are noun based, and ‘things’ are central in our Eurocentric cultures.

The verbs have been taken away through colonialization and dominant cultures. Including our Curriculum and hierarchical Educational System. Verbs are always changing. Nothing is permanent. We need to make this a reality with regards to our teaching practice.

In our Literacy programs, we can respecting the ethic of autonomy, and providing a range of stories that are developmentally appropriate. Stories where students make mistakes, and learners can get out of it whatever they are ready for. Our classrooms filled with 25 students or more of the same age, does NOT mean that they are all ready for the same curriculum at the same time. Effective feedback will support this. This is in contrast to measuring students to standardized measures, respecting them for the knowledge they gain, when they are ready.

We are now finding ourselves in a position where we need to preserve Indigenous cultures through education, but we are being taught by non-indigenous teachers. We have to reach out, learn, and use the Seven Grandfather Teachings, particularly humility if we are all going to be able to work together to make equality for FNMI students a reality.

The following are additional ideas that I will organize into new blog posts:

  • Student voice, and true differentiation.
  • This means starting with the students, versus only using our own ideas from our own perspectives as educators.
  • Allow students to engage in inquiry. Directly instructing students about how to do things, and telling them how to behave is at odds with many embedded values of many FNMI cultures.
  • Allow students to co-create, or fully create the curriculum and assessment that will take place
  • Use technology as a tool to bridge communities, share voices
  • Ensure that FNMI voices have equal opportunities for knowledge to be shared in both physical and virtual environments, regardless of the number of students who may or may not have FNMI heritage in the learning environment
  • Begin to understand that FNMI perspectives, culture and history are equally important for ALL students, not just FNMI students
  • Recognize the stress experienced by FNMI students, and stress experienced within our education.
  • Provide opportunities for students to pick things up at their own paces and developmental readiness.
  • Adopt flexible pedagogies to allow for groups of students to learn the curriculum at different times and paces based readiness
  • Call upon community members to help teach and facilitate where knowledge is truly needed.
  • Provide choices to follow different community members and/or members on staff who demonstrate knowledge and skills that students are ready for.
  • Use Social Media to provide potential access to leaders and helpers. Skype. Twitter.

 

What Strategies or ideas do you have to share?

Deborah McCallum

Copyright

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. 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.

Professional Inquiry to Improve Practice in Education

It can be very daunting and challenging to make real changes in our practices as educators.  One way that we can do this is to actively engage in the process of Inquiry.

Inquiry is a creative endeavor where teachers do not have to be the ‘experts’. The answers are not necessarily in a textbook, yet are creative and collaborative results of unique and challenging situations in our learning environments.

The main tenet with Inquiry is that success will depend on deep and sustained changes with learners.

HOWEVER, Inquiry is NOT comfortable! It not only takes time, it also takes a great deal of focused energies to recognize urgent student needs. In fact, it forces us to actively challenge our pre-existing beliefs to ultimately create positive changes in our learning environments. This is not a natural human instinct. The nature of human behaviour is such that we feel that need to hold on to our schemas of the teaching and learning processes. The following questions are natural

Here are some key questions that educators often ask themselves:

  • How can I possibly choose a focus within the current contexts of accountability and standardization?
  • Why should I engage in professional inquiry if I am already comfortable with my existing knowledge and ideas of teaching and learning processes?
  • How do I begin to choose a meaningful learning focus?
  • What is the process by which I decide upon an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront?
  • Will my inquiry mean that everything else that is important in my class will be forgotten?

How can we engage in important inquiries that will result in systematic and lasting changes to our practice?

Steps to creating a Successful Inquiry:

  1. Identify a key focus, or an urgent learner need. As Stephen Katz from OISE states, a learner need is actually a teacher need.
  2. Engage in collaborative relationships with key people who can help you with your inquiry, including other professionals, colleagues, parents, and other key community members. For instance for First Nations, Metis & Inuit students, collaborative inquiry should include families and community members, including Elders and traditional teachers. This benefits the whole learning environment as well. It is through collaboration that new knowledge is created.
  3. Venture beyond generalized focus of self-improvement, and learn to make the focus specific according to our specific situations and needs.
  4. Access appropriate technologies
  5. Give yourself permission to be creative with your own interpretation and application of new knowledge
  6. Move from a position of ‘sage on the stage’.

 

It is difficult to admit sometimes that student learning needs are also teacher learning needs. There are always going to be learning needs for students and teachers. But, the fantastic news is that there are also going to be new ideas, new solutions, and new knowledge available. These can be found by collaborating with other educators, parents, community members, and students; accessing technology and placing importance on your own creativity, and not assuming that the answers are always to be found in a textbook.

New ideas and knowledge will always exist and we also need to give ourselves permission to seek collaboration, new ideas, and new knowledge when are faced with new learning needs with our students.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. 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.

Teaching the Indian Act

 

The Indian Act of 1876 was the consolidation of other Acts that were created to begin to ‘Civilize’ and assimilate Aboriginal Peoples into Canada. It is still alive and very much in pace today, still mostly organized in its original form, despite dozens of amendments.

It is a very destructive Act that sought to abolish Aboriginal cultures by making ‘Indians wards of the state’, and banning Traditional Ceremonies, language use, extracting children from their families to send to Residential Schools, imposing governments, abolishing rights to vote, and taking over land and resources  just to name a few.

Assimilation and Civilization of ‘Indian’s’ has been tragic, oppressive, and paternalistic. Teaching this within our Curriculum can be quite difficult, especially with our younger students.

Nevertheless, it is important to find ways to make sure that this is not something that is forgotten. We need to understand the past, present and future of Canada, and to do this authentically, we all need to understand the Indian Act and how intertwined and entrenched it is within the rights and treatment of Aboriginal Peoples.

It is not an act created or ‘owned’, or only pertaining to ‘Status-Indians’. It is an Act that was created by our own Canadian government. It is still enacted today by our own Canadian Government.

It played a large role in Confederation, The Constitution, the Wars, Health Care, and Rights and Access to Education and Reserve land. It still plays a large role in nearly every aspect of the lives of First Nations, Metis & Inuit People in Canada.

Though dozens of amendments have taken place to the Indian Act, problems still exist, based on the values and oppression embedded within.  Many Reserves are still without clean drinking water, proper schools, high suicide rates, and other social problems including gas sniffing, alcoholism, abuse, and violence, built in by a past of oppression and assimilation.

Such a major part of the History of how Canada was formed, and how it still governs First Nations, Metis & Inuit to this very day. Yet much of our Curriculum all but ignores. Some may argue that our Curriculum is continuing to assimilate Aboriginal Peoples, continuing to promote Colonialism and Colonial values.

I believe that we need a curriculum that promotes a shared vision of education that strongly infuses values, knowledge, traditions, and languages of Aboriginal Peoples.

Yes, Inquiry based learning is amazing, yes, the use of technology is amazing. Yes, our Social Studies, History, and Geography curricula are changing for the better. BUT this content knowledge is also absolutely essential to understanding the values upon which Canada was built, learning about Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in the past, present, and future, and not merely in reference to early colonization.

  • Why is it that we do not allow for more knowledge about Aboriginal people, and the Indian Act, in our Curriculum?
  • How can we ensure that our Pedagogy and strategies are allow for this content? 

Education can be a powerful tool of restoration, restitution, and renewal.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. 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.

FNMI, eLearning and Culturally Relevant Education

https://flic.kr/p/jS3h

The FNMI populations across North America are incredibly diverse, both linguistically and culturally. With literally hundreds of different First Nations and Aboriginal populations, we are faced with many challenges with regards to how we can adequately preserve Indigenous knowledge and ways of living within Canada.

In our Western world, standardized, results-based practices, measurement, and same aged groupings learning the same thing at the same time prevails. Education systems within Canada not only supports these perspectives, but has also created a foundational basis that will be passed along from generation to generation.

Unless we can instill new Indigenous values that can be passed along to improve our Education Systems, and FNMI peoples. If we continue to ignore Aboriginal perspectives, then we will continue to systematically ignore the fastest growing population in Canada.

17 eLearning and non-eLearning Strategies to learn more about Cultural Diversity in your Classroom: 

  1. Start where you are at in terms of your own knowledge, then look toward your closest communities FNMI to learn more.
  2. Access Websites, Online Newspapers including Windspeaker,
  3. Research books in Cultural Publishing Companies Online, including Goodminds, and Ningwakwe Press
  4. Join in a cultural event
  5. Visit your local band office or Friendship Center to obtain information
  6. Ask to meet with a Traditional Teacher or Elder
  7. Meet with a Traditional Teacher on Skype or Adobe Connect to bring them to your classroom.
  8. Do some reading.  Most communities have websites.
  9. Use 21st technologies to connect with other communities, such as wikis, blogs,
  10. Connect with other Education agencies that run through Band offices and Friendship Centres. Communicate with them over Twitter.
  11. Read local news.  There may be many current issues involving local communities
  12. Use Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (Government of Canada) weblinks.
  13. Differentiate your classroom programming and curriculum based on the aspects and respect for the FN/Metis/Inuit territory that is closest to you.
  14. Use Technologies for Students to share about their culture, ie., Animoto, Prezi. Take pictures with iPhone or iPod, and upload to Sliderocket, or create an iMovie to share culture with the rest of the class.
  15. Understand the needs of your Community.
  16. Strive to reach and engage the students from that community in meaningful ways.
  17. Do your own homework. What backgrounds and cultures exist in your classroom? Have any community strategies worked in the past, for example, cultural programming, building of community structures and other strategies to engage and motivate youth. Communicate with parents! This goes beyond the odd group email once in a while. Really strive to engage with the families.

As Educators, we can start with the knowledge we already have, and the resources that are available to us, including eLearning and blended learning platforms. From there, we can continue to focus on the similarities that exist between Aboriginal cultures. Many of the similarities have arisen from the impacts of European views and colonialization over the past few hundred years. This has created shared histories for FNMI peoples, but unfortunately, has also undermined and left many diversities forgotten.

As Educators, this presents a very large difficult task in terms of not just meeting the expectations of the curriculum, but also respecting the diversity within each and every classroom.

Whether we consciously acknowledge this or not, one of the tasks of the Education system is to look toward ways of restoring and renewing Indigenous relationships in Education, and reconciling Indigenous and Western viewpoints within our Educational practices. Only then, can we improve the quality of life for all FNMI people, our environment, Country, and the future for everyone.

Education can offer great tools to help deepen knowledge and understanding, and reconciling differences between cultures.

According to Indigenous perspectives, communities and Elders, and family were always very important in transmitting knowledge. Learning always took place when the student was ready. Teachers brought in at the ‘right’ times.

If students are not ‘ready’ for eLearning platforms, then this aspect can wait.  Technology should always enhance learning and cultural diversity.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2015. 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.

Helping our Children to ‘Walk the Good Path’ in life: The Seven Grandfather Teachings & Educating our Children

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AMThe Seven Grandfather Teachings tell us that you live your best life, when you can demonstrate toward others, the constructs of Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, & Bravery.

From a First Nations perspective, you ‘Walk the Good Path’ when you demonstrate Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, and Bravery.

The 7th Generation Principle also states that what happens now, will still have an impact 7 generations from now. So, it stands to reason, that the important leadership that educators provide now, should still be positively affecting our population 7 generations from now.

In difficult political times, when governments impose unfair laws and sanctions, and continue to marginalize groups, it changes a population of people. Human beings are not infallible, and a lack of respect and love shown toward others will have a negative effect. You reap what you sow.

Our Nation’s Leaders have a responsibility to help our Children to ‘Walk a Good Path’ in life. This takes Courage, and, according to the 7th Generation Principal, will help the next 7 generations to continue to ‘Walk the Good Path’.

In terms of our Education System, our Educators, just as our Children, are in need of the Seven Grandfather Teachings to continually learn how to create positive working environments, embed culturally relevant  and culturally responsive teaching practices for our students to foster confidence, and not fear.

Every single day, educators need supports to open communication networks with staff, parents, and the community. They, like all people, need Love and Respect to strive for a mutual understanding of our own diversity; Bravery to engage in Holistic Education each day and learn to live in harmony with each other; Courage to follow the very Educational Initiatives that are put into place for the betterment of our students, and our society; Humility to admit that we don’t have all of the answers; Truth and Honesty to help us understand initiatives such as the Aboriginal Education Strategy that are a great benefit for all students, not just those self-identified as First Nations, Metis & Inuit.

The Educators of today are the Leaders for tomorrow. We need to train our Leaders well, and treat them well, so that our Educators can turn around and feel trusted enough to Nurture our children, and prepare for a brighter future.

It is important to truly respect others, acknowledge cultural diversity, admit mistakes, strive to attain mutual understanding, create positive working environments, foster confidence and not fear.

Tens of Thousands of Educators have such an important leadership role in raising and educating an entire generation of children for the future. Just as it takes an entire ‘Village to Raise a Child’; Our children, Educators and other professionals also need Love, Respect, Humility, Courage, Bravery, Honesty, and Truth to grow as human beings, and continue to make the world a better place. Not just for now, but for generations to come.

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.