Learning and Teaching Together
Weaving Indigenous Ways of Knowing into Education
Across Canada, new curriculum initiatives require teachers to introduce students to Aboriginal content. In response, many teachers unfamiliar with Aboriginal approaches to learning and teaching are seeking ways to respectfully weave this material into their lessons. At the same time, many teachers are also grappling with how to foster inclusive classrooms in an increasingly multicultural society.
Far more than a how-to book, Learning and Teaching Together introduces teachers of all levels to an indigenist approach to education. Tanaka recounts how pre-service teachers enrolled in a crosscultural course in British Columbia immersed themselves in indigenous ways of learning and teaching by working alongside indigenous wisdom keepers. Together, they transformed cedar bark, buckskin, and wool into a mural that tells stories about the land upon which the course took place. In the process, they discovered new ways of learning that support not only intellectual but also tactile, emotional, and spiritual forms of knowledge. The teachers-in-training then carried their new-found knowledge into their practicums, where they faced challenges and opportunities as they worked to apply the indigenist values they had learned within a system structured around Western values, beliefs, and attitudes.
By telling the story of how one group of non-indigenous teachers learned to privilege indigenous ways of knowing, Tanaka opens a path for teachers to nurture indigenist crosscultural understanding in their classrooms.
This inspiring and original work will be of interest to educators, teacher-educators, policy makers, and others concerned with collaborative and transformative forms of crosscultural pedagogy and research both in Canada and abroad.
Teachers in British Columbia and throughout Canada who struggle with how to enact curriculum changes that incorporate Indigenous knowledge, history, and identity will find this book illuminating … in spite of the seemingly overwhelming challenges in making a space for Indigenous thought and experience, it can and must be done. The transformation has been happening and is continuing.
This book is essential reading for teachers, teacher educators, and anyone interested in indigenous education, social justice, and transformative learning. It also provides important insights and guidance to educational policymakers… [Learning and Teaching Together] is highly recommended.
… Indigenous educators and allies will find this text inspirational, hopeful, and useful.
This innovative book – which follows a group of pre-service teachers as they “walk alongside” wisdom keepers in an earth fibres course – demonstrates how indigenous knowledge can transform classroom spaces. A must-read for anyone involved in teacher education, it offers a new direction for crosscultural learning and teaching.
Too often, in educational contexts, we get caught up in theorizing and intellectualizing rather than expressing other ways of knowing and understanding. As Michele Tanaka shows, there is much powerful holistic learning that can emerge when we make and do things together in accordance with the guidance of sacred ecology wisdom. This provocative and engaging book provides excellent examples of holistic engagement processes and inspires us to reimagine the purposes and processes of public education today. Learning and Teaching Together provides valuable guidance to educators, teacher-educators, and policy makers.
Michele T.D. Tanaka is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. She is grateful to live and work on the beautiful lands of the traditional Coast Salish territory of the Lkwungen, Esquimalt, and WASANEC peoples. Her research and teaching interests have been shaped by over ten years in the classroom, in a variety of educational settings.
Foreword / Greg Cajete
SENĆOŦEN Pronunciation and Glossary
Introduction: A Welcoming
The Moons of XAXE SIÁM SILA
1 Orienting to Place and Pedagogical Purpose
2 Opening Oneself to Indigenous Ways of Being-Knowing-Doing
3 Rethinking Learner-Teacher Relationships
4 Invoking Good Intention and Conscious Action
5 Focusing on How and Why We Teach
6 Trusting Learners and Remembering Wholeness
7 Coming Together in Safe Enough Spaces
8 Continuing Reflection towards Sustainability
9 Preparing Self and Community for Dispositional Change
10 Indigenizing Practice amid Classroom Challenges
11 Re-envisioning (Teacher) Education
12 Touchstones for Future Teaching
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