Critical pedagogy is pivotal when addressing Indigenization of the curriculum; for, at the core of the process is the art of challenging assumptions. As Maori professor Linda Tuhiwae Smith demonstrates (2008), there is a Western-centric dominance of research theory and praxis. If this is the education system            experienced by teachers, it is not surprising that an inhospitable environment for Indigenous perspectives is oftentransferred to our K-12 classrooms. These assumptions must be challenged for change to occur.


Classroom Application

As relevant, ask thefollowingtwo questions about anything you are studying in class:

What might the Indigenous peoples of this area think about this topic?

What is the history of the Indigenous peoples’ connection to this topic?

Often times Indigenous perspectives are missing from textbooks and other classroom resources so it is up to teachers to engage students in inquiry-based learning to reach a more holistic understanding of the given topic.

Brookfield (2012;2013) describes creative critical thinking as the ability to identify and challenge our assumptions, then change our actions accordingly while also seeing and communicating from multiple perspectives. The Humanities classroom is an excellent place for such exploration and discussion. Nussbaum (2010,p.ix) reminds us that “educators understand how the arts and humanities teach the critical thinking that is necessary for independent action and for intelligent resistance” to classroom resources or media representation that may be biased. I believe this ‘intelligent resistance’ is founded on the ability to imagine the situation of another person, resulting in greater understanding. This process can be guided by keeping in mind First Nations Principles of Learning

Sandlin, Redmon, Wright, and Clark (2011) similarly argue for educators to create transformational learning experiences and stronger critical media literacy “through critical dialogue deconstructing popular culture”(p.12). Such deep reflection occurs at both professional and personal levels, as learners critique representation in the public sphere or their own biases. As writer, lawyer,and intellectual Chelsea Vowel (2016) writes: We “have situations where Canadians are accustomed to seeing Indigenous peoples only within very narrow circumstances: as urban homeless, struggling with addictions/mental illness or within the context of cultural celebrations”(p.68).


Classroom Application

Reflect for a moment on the words and images that come to mind when you hear the terms ‘Indigenous’, ‘native’ and ‘Indian’ and also where in your life you think those words and image came from.  In what way might those words and images affect the way you think about and relate to Indigenous people in your everyday life? (Etherington,2014,p.210)

Espiritu and Budhrani (2014) emphasize the importance of such class discussions in saying:“through the incorporation of new information, [students] will begin to reframe their view of the world and their role in the world. Once [they]reach a stream of ‘ahamoments’, they are on the path of transformation”(p.2).





Brookfield, S. (2012). Stephen Brookfield on creative & critical thinking Retrieved from

Brookfield, S.(2013). Powerfutechniquefoteachinadults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Espiritu,J.L.,&Budhrani,K.(2014).Reeltime: A case study on transformative learning with authentic projects. Retrievedfrom

Etherington, M. (Ed.) (2014). Foundations of Education: A Christian Vision. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock.

Sandlin, J. A., Redmon Wright, R., & Clark, C. (2011). Reexamining theories of adult learning and adult development through the lenses of public pedagogy. AdultEducationQuarterly, 63, 3-23.doi:10.1177/0741713611415836

Smith-Tuhiwai,L.(2008). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. Dunedin: University of OtagaPress.

Vowel,C.(2016). IndigenousWrites:A guide to First Nations, Metis & Inuit issues in Canada. Winnipeg: HighwaterPress.