The Indigenization of the British Columbia curriculum requires new constructs for leadership, Indigenous pedagogical practices, perspectives and content, and a vision for changing paradigms. A process such as Halbert and Kaser’s (2013) spirals of inquiry can help educators realize that learning is not linear but recursive.
With respect to Indigenization, they suggest consideration of the following questions:
- Does every learner have genuine opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of and respect for Indigenous ways of knowing that are such an integral part of our Canadian cultural landscape?
- Do all learners have the chance to teach someone else and through doing so contribute to the community as a whole?
- Do Indigenous youngsters see themselves reflected in the curriculum on an ongoing basis and not just as a ‘one off‘ or as a special unit?
- Is deep listening a part of learners’ everyday experience?
- To what extent are learners expected to do the best they can on all tasks while keeping an eye on how they can help others?
- Does every learner feel his or her voice is valued?
- What are the opportunities for learners to express themselves in a variety of ways?
- Is oral storytelling valued?
- Are young learners connected to senior members of their communities?
- Do learners respect the knowledge and experiences of elders?
In a meeting with Brandon Gabriel (Kwantlen First Nation artist and community activist) he said ‘All things have a story’and suggested a few more questions to be facilitated in the context of a classroom circle that would encourage participants to share some of their story. I field tested the questions with pre-service teachers and was impressed with the way that the dialogue built connections among the participants. Brandon explained that the questions derive from his involvement in Unis’tot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu/BigFrogClan) camp near Smithers. Since 2010 there has been a camp there to protect the healing lodge from government pipelines.https://unistoten.camp/
Assemble students in a circle. Project or write the following questions as a visual reinforcement. You may wish to give the questions in advance. Explain the rules of the circle–no interruptions or cross-talk,careful listening and eye contact with the speaker. Model how to answer the questions by starting with yourself.
- State who you are, the meaning of your ancestral name if you know it and your family history
- What gift are you bringing to this setting? (not a tangible gift but a skill or talent)
- What are you expecting? What outcomes do you hope for?
- Incorporate experiential and place-based learning.
- Make a conscious effort to shift your paradigm and understanding of Indigenous peoples.
- Choose resources that reflect Indigenous perspectives and content.
- Pay attention to contemporary social and cultural issues related to Indigenous peoples, particularly those of your local area.
- Incorporate restorative principles in your teaching.
- Establish a community of practice.
Halbert, J., & Kaser, L. (2013). The Spiral of inquiry in action. From The BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association: Retrieved from http://s3.amazonaws.com/accredible_card_attachments/attachments/64376/original/Week_4.3_Spiral_of_Inquiry_-_Guide_to_the_six_phases.pdf