AbEd Inquiry with Derek van Deursen

I began with the question:

“Will the regular use of stories in my teaching help cultivate an understanding and appreciation for listening and story telling, and through this an openness to aboriginal culture?”

My focus was created out of a fear of the unknown and therefor a fear of my ability to strongly integrate aboriginal content into my lessons, rather trying to go at it in a tangential manner.

My first steps in this inquiry were building my own knowledge. My inquiry question was put on hold as I looked for personal understanding in multiple areas regarding Canada’s Aboriginal people and history.

How were Aboriginals treated and assimilated during the colonization of Canada?

What effects of this racism are still present today?

How can teachers help students grasp a cultural appreciation and acceptance that can challenge the systemic racism prevalent in our society today?

These questions are not small, nor are their answers simple, or even available. But they got me started on my journey of understanding.

As I continue to learn, I become less and less afraid of accidentally portraying a story incorrectly, or an idea poorly. The more I know, the less I fear.  My rationale for investigating my question began as a personal embarrassment but has moved in a less deprecating direction.

The history of Canada, and the land it was before, is held in the stories of Aboriginal culture. As well, incredibly important learning surrounding privilege, power, and respect (of people and land) is accessible only through Aboriginal Education. My reason for inquiring about AbEd in my classroom is to model uncertainty and the truth of where I’m at, and why I believe this to be important.

With this progress of my own understanding, I have begun to look at new questions.

In regard to salvaging my initial question:

“How can I tie in what we have already done in our learning with the aboriginal principals of learning? Will a retroactive approach be beneficial for the students or should I accept that I missed this oppourtunity and work on making my next chance strong?”

And If I were to start again:

“How can stories be used in a scientific setting to set the tone surrounding both the content and the appreciation of a time passed?”

Currently I have introduced the lunar calendar to my science class as we study the phases of the moon. We have talked about how the 13 phases of the particular Saanich calendar we looked at do not always fit into the 12 months of our Gregorian calendar, yet how we sometimes cut off a phase to make it work. This is just another way we continue to assimilate Aboriginal culture into our own in a way that does it no justice.

The biggest thing I have learned about myself through this time is to admit my own short-comings – wither in character or knowledge – and see who listens. There will always be someone who would rather help than exploit, and with these people we can slowly turn the fear of the unknown into a web of shared understanding.

Comfort is directly correlated with understanding; asking for it will make us feel better.




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