BC has recently revamped its curriculum and one of the main new components is the focus on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. However, the teacher training and educational resources to support this new curriculum are not all in place. This article from the Tyee Newspaper is a reminder that sometimes the best sources of knowledge and teaching can come from the students. While I would never advocate putting a child on the spot to talk about their heritage in front of the rest of the class, if a student is willing to share his/her personal experiences and ideas on a subject, it often has a much more impactful and intrinsic connection with the students (and teacher) receiving this teaching.
Coming off my last post and in my search for financial support for Indigenous girls in post-secondary education, I came across an Indigenous-led registered charity called Indspire. In addition to it dispersing financial aid, it also provides an online resource for teachers with a variety of lesson plans, online webinars, in-class seminars and links to upcoming events.
In my research so far about the barriers facing Indigenous women in STEAM and tech-related fields, two trends are emerging- funding and teacher education. Funding is one way to support Indigenous students becoming successful in education, but another large indicator for success is the education of teachers and their knowledge and understanding of how to deliver curriculum and better help support Indigenous students. There are two upcoming conferences that will have Indigenous students and Indigenous educators sharing their experiences and practices of what works and providing teachers with some of this knowledge and understanding about Indigenous needs in education.
The first event is coming up this Oct 19th at Simon Fraser University where a panel of 3 Laureates (Dakota Brant- First Nations, Maatalii Okalik- Inuit, and Gabrielle Fayant- Metis), will “discuss issues such as being the first person in the family to go to university or being the only Indigenous student in the class, and how schools can better support Indigenous students.” Registration is still open.
Another upcoming conference is the 23rd Annual Aboriginal Education Conference “Renewing our Relationship” put on by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and happening in Vancouver Nov 30- Dec 1-2 at the Westin Bayshore. As stated on their website this conference will be:
“Showcasing innovative curriculum, inspiring people and excellent networking opportunities, the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) Annual Aboriginal Education Conference draws over 800 educators each year. Our conference theme, Renewing Our Relationship, will explore the role of education in reconciliation as part of the ongoing conversations about Canada’s 150th celebrations and planning for the future of First Nations education in British Columbia. This will include examining how we can work together to transform our relationships in order to advance quality First Nations education.
There are a variety of workshops to choose from and several keynote speakers, including one of the authors from our course readings- Dr. Jan Hare who is the Associate Dean for Indigenous Education (UBC).
Thinking about the recent initiatives set forth by the BC government to recruit and train British Columbians in skilled trades, I wondered if there was an for technology training specifically for Indigenous peoples. It was here where I found out about the 2.2 Million invested into Indigenous skills training for the tech sector.
The Bridging to Technology program was created by the First Nations Technology Council and when reviewing the team making up the council I was pleasantly surprised to see a team full of women. However, I was disappointed to find the board of directors consisted of only men. This was a stark reminder of the gender gap in authoritative roles that women of all ethnicities face.
As the CNET article highlights, the tech industry is already male-dominated:
And this is for white women. The statistics get worse if you’re a woman of a minority. According to a study done by Michelmore & Sassler (2016), “Black women, Latina women, and Indigenous women especially, earn less than white and Asian American women” (Rao & Lunau, 2017).
The dominance of men over women in higher paid, higher power positions is a trend in most sectors but is especially pronounced in the tech sector. As Blanche (2016) highlights “The problem is when diversity programs focus on “women” as a whole, they often fall into the trap of prioritizing the majority: White Women”.
If we truly want to make our tech industry more diverse, we need to analyze the barriers that Indigenous women face specifically. Grants for an example are a start, but while I did find technology grants for women, I was unable to find grants dedicated specifically to Indigenous women
Blanche, A. (2016, December 20). Diversity in tech too often means ‘hiring white women.’ We need to move beyond that. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from https://www.recode.net/2016/12/20/14013610/gender-diversity-women-race-age-geography-initiative
Michelmore, K. & Sassler, S. (2016). Explaining the Gender Wage Gap in STEM: Does Field Sex Composition Matter?RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2(4), 194-215. Russell Sage Foundation. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from Project MUSE database.
Rao, A., & Lunau, K. (2017, April 04). You Can’t Close the Gender Gap in Science and Tech Without Equal Pay. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4xeevp/stem-science-technology-women-pay-gap-equal-pay-day
For our final research assignment, Kathryn, Sara and I have decided to look at the relationship of technology and STEAM learning and Indigenous girls. We were drawn to focus our research on girls because of the unique differences they have in learning compared to boys as well as the fact that Indigenous girls, already from a marginalized community, are even more vulnerable as they face gender bias and stereotypes in a male-dominated technology industry. In our research of current programs and initiatives in place, we found “Native Girls that Code” . The goals of this program are:
- Build leadership of women and the capacity of women-led projects and organizations
- Build the capacity of our youth to develop strong identities through Indigenous knowledge and stronger supports for their education
- Advance the preservation and revitalization of traditional Native knowledge through environmental justice programming that focuses on following the original teachings of Mother Earth
This program has found a way to incorporate STEAM learning with place-based learning that connects the girls with the land around them.
The success of this program but shows the promise and capability of integration between Indigenous girls and technology and could pose as a model for other similar programs.
Last year I had an “aha” moment during a professional development session when we were shown the conflicting viewpoints of the Iranian hostage crisis through Google searches. The difference from Canadian Google versus Iranian Google was profound. Depending on which country you searched from, you would have two entirely different accounts of the event. As a history teacher, I’m aware that all history is biased and will vary depending on who writes it, however in this day and age, I was shocked to see such a stark difference from the same platform provider.
At the beginning of each year (being a teacher my “New Years” is September 1st) I make a personal finance, fitness, and intellectual goal for myself. This year my intellectual goal is to “challenge my confirmation bias”. I feel that I have always been a person open and respectful to others ideas, however, I’ve become more self-aware that my sources of information are from limited sources.
A recent revelation pertaining to this was after watching a Vice HBO Episode titled: ‘Post-Truth’ News & Microbiome. In this discussion, it showed Parallel Narratives of Twitter data surrounding journalism and Clinton/Trump supporters. Following only Clinton or Trump was an indication that your information circles only covered either left wing or right wing topics. As Vice puts more eloquently “[the] support had an effect on a user’s information flow as people seemed to cut themselves off from users who supported a different candidate.”
If “following” is seen as supporting, then it will be difficult to break this segregation of information for fear of reprisals from peer groups. But maybe this is what we need. Following Trump and his supporters may help to bridge the gap in our understanding of each other. While I think (at least I hope) that the same degree of polarization does not exist between Canadians and Indigenous peoples presently, I wonder, are we making an effort to truly understand and “follow” each other?
Bringing it back to our topic; focusing on my goal and engaging in this course has made me analyze my current practices. How can we break free from our singular narrative bubble and actively seek Indigenous community members both locally and nationally to “Follow”? Indigenous Tweets and other platforms of the like might be a good springboard to find new sources of information. Moreover, reviewing and reiterating our current practices for searching for literature. Pivoting from UBC summons and Google Scholar to Indigenous databases and Index’s such as the Indigenous Peoples North America and iPortal: Indigenous Studies Portal databases. Searching through these ‘new’ mediums I found significantly fewer ‘hits’ for the subject matter I was looking for, however, what I gave up in quantity I found in quality with literature that was reflecting a new perspective.
With our recent class discussions on the cultural neutrality of technology and the difference of educational goals in our Indigenous communities, I realize there is strong evidence for and against Indigenous use of technology and the extent of its benefit. However, for the non-Indigenous community, I believe that technology been an invaluable tool to help increase awareness and understanding as well as helping to promote advocacy for Indigenous communities.
Many have a willingness to learn but not always the tools or resources at their disposal. Technology helps reduce boundaries by increasing our learning networks. One of these learning networks is the MOOC/EdX course run by Jan Hare through UBC on Reconciliation through Education. This free online course starts Oct 16, 2017 and covers the following program outcomes:
- Explore personal and professional histories and assumptions in relationship to Indigenous peoples histories and worldviews
- Deepen understanding and knowledge of colonial histories and current realities of Indigenous people
- Engage with Indigenous worldviews and perspectives that contextualize and support your understanding of the theories and practices of Indigenous education
- Develop strategies that contribute to the enhancement of Indigenous-settler relations in schools, organizations, and communities
- Explore Indigenous worldviews and learning approaches for their application to the classroom or community learning setting
- Engage in personal and professional discussions in an online environment with others committed to understanding and advancing reconciliation
Additionally, another post-secondary resource from UVic sees the revitalization of Aboriginal languages. Technology and western education has contributed to the diminishment of Aboriginal languages, but now it is also being used to revitalize the languages not only with the descendants of native tongue speakers but with the non-Indigenous community as well. While this course, unfortunately, is not free, it does offer courses that are face-to-face with Indigenous community members as well as career opportunities to work in and with various Indigenous communities upon completion of the course. The program outcomes are as follows:
- Learn foundational knowledge and skills in linguistics that are needed to undertake language preservation and revitalization work.
- Build knowledge and skills in language preservation and revitalization.
- Develop your ability to analyze language preservation issues relevant across Indigenous cultures and specific to your own communities.
- Enhance your capacity to develop responsive strategies and programs designed to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages.
- Earn a comprehensive and respected certificate.
- Create a foundation for subsequent academic studies in related areas, such as education, cultural resource management and linguistics.
Recently published in the Canadian News was a mothers outrage over the use of the term “Squaw” used 39 times in the book “Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush,” printed by Second Story Press which was being used in the classroom and included teaching materials. The teacher gave students a test that had students matching the derogatory terms to correct “definitions or appropriate language”. Being able to see a few questions above, you can tell that this test is discussing the prejudice and background of when or why these terms were used. One can hope that further discussion was implemented about such content. But this raised a few questions for me:
Was the teacher in the wrong for using the resource, despite it being an approved teaching material?
Was this content appropriate for 14 year olds? If not, what age is?
Assuming the teacher did her due diligence in both prepping and unpacking such topics, are there certain topics teachers should not address, that are too controversial?
This book was published in 1852. Is it considered a classic or are our reading lists that outdated (most likely due to budget cuts in recent years)?
How easy/difficult is it for teachers/districts to get new reading materials in that perhaps might be more appropriate as well as more engaging for students both from indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
I’d like to share some resources that I and my colleagues have used recently in the classroom that have been well received. I would also like to open it up and ask for more suggestions of any books/audio books that you have used or come across. Additionally, after speaking with an Aboriginal Success Teacher for one of the nearby school districts, she directed me to the Canadian Aboriginal Books for School list which has quite an extensive list.
To play off Natalie’s post, I find that Wab Kinew’s videos are informative and popular with students. Like Natalie says, it’s important to get the right information and I try to find sources of information about Indigenous peoples BY Indigenous peoples. He is a great speaker and tackles issues like residential schools and First Nations stereotypes. He was also recently within the past 24 hours elected as the leader of the Manitoba New Democrat Party. There are a lot of great resources out there and not always time to get through them. Thats why I enjoy posting links to different videos found both by myself and other students for them to watch on their own time. I find it very rare that they ever just watch the one video but watch multiple videos connected with the original post. Technology is always a double edged sword. And in the same way one can get sucked into watching multiple cat fail videos, students can also get sucked into an issue or topic brought up in class using the same technology medium if we provide them the right guidance.
The following are resources (articles, videos, websites) on ideas and initiatives focused on Indigenous knowledge, learners and education:
Conestoga College. (2017, March 20). Indigenizing Post-Secondary Education [Video file].
This video explores the experiences of a few post-secondary Indigenous students, within their courses and on-campus supports. The students provide suggestions on going beyond a Euro-centric style of teaching and infusing Indigenous content and teaching methods into the education system, as well as ways to help build stronger relationships among Canadians.
Project of Heart. (n.d.). Project of Heart.
This is an “inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational activity” that helps students learn about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, including the legacy of the residential school system. It is tailored to different grade levels, including post-secondary, but is not only tied to educational institutions: it can be used by anyone.
Province of BC. (2013, October 25). Changing Results for Young Readers: Laura Tait, First Peoples Principles of Learning [Video file].
This is a presentation by Laura Tait, an educator and administrator. She covers ideas such as Indigenous identity, pedagogy, reflective practice, relationships and understanding. Tait invites viewers to look at the world through an Indigenous lens. She shares some activities that teachers can use with their students and resources for their professional development.
Simon, J., Burton, K., Lockhart, E. (2014). Post-secondary distance education in a contemporary colonial context: Experiences of students in a rural First Nation in Canada. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 15(1).
This article shares some of the challenges of and opportunities through post-secondary online/distance education in rural and remote First Nation (Indigenous) communities in Canada. The Elsipogtog First Nation community in Nova Scotia is profiled. Student experiences using videoconferencing technology are shared.
University of British Columbia. (2017, February 17). Learning from Story [Video file].
This video is part of a non-credit massive open online course (MOOC), “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education,” which focuses on strategies, teaching examples and resources supporting teaching and learning of Indigenous ways of knowing. The video focuses on the use of Indigenous storytelling and the benefits of utilizing it as a teaching strategy.
For this final module, I chose to continue my investigation of the intersection of (Western) Place-based education and Indigenous learning from place. I also broadened my scope to explore some models outside of the public school system – specifically band and reserve schools.
In this paper, the author explores one student’s experiences with learning mathematics from place. The paper recounts a math unit exploring triangles that was taught to grade nine students in SOMEWHERE. In the unit, place was the inroad for intertwining Western and Indigenous math learning. The author provides a useful analysis of the distinction between hands-on, place-based learning and Indigenous learning from place. The approach taken for the unit was not so much a blending of Indigenous and Western approaches, but rather an intertwining “to increase tensile strength”. As a result of participating in the unit, students reported increased confidence in math competency as well as increased connections to the land and feelings of belonging to their culture. I found this approach to be a compliment to the idea of “Two-Eyed Seeing”, “two-way Aboriginal schooling”, and “walking in both worlds”.
NSF Includes: Envisioning Impact – Integrating Indigenous and Western Knowledge to Transform Learning and Discovery in the Geosciences
Here is a quote from the website:
[The program] uses the principles of collective impact (CI) to create new partnerships between tribal communities and STEM institutions that promote the participation and inclusion of Native American (NA) scientists in the geosciences.
Our proposed program partners the Rising Voices: Collaborative Science for Climate Solutions (Rising Voices) member tribal colleges and communities with Haskell Indian Nations University, NCAR, Biosphere 2 (B2), and UCAR’s SOARS internship and GLOBE citizen science programs. Together, we commit to greater integration of indigenous and “traditional western” knowledge into collectively-developed climate change research projects, enhancing our collective ability to address climate change, and contributing to climate resilience in all communities.
This program is a good example of attempts to draw from the strengths of both Western and Indigenous knowledges in finding solutions to ecological problems. The fact that it is funded by the National Science Foundation indicates that such collaborations are increasingly seen to be of value within Western science organizations.
This program, which is also funded by the (U.S.) National Science Foundation, is a four-year collaboration between the Indigenous Education Institute and the University of California-Berkeley targeting informal science education professionals. This project is designed to explore the commonalities between western science and native science in the context of informal science education.
The group has produced a beautiful and informative ebook based on their project outcomes, which is available to download free on their website. Here is a quote from that book:
Cosmic Serpent set out to explore commonalities between Western and Native science, taking into account that Native cultures have, over millennia, developed ways of knowing that are highly adapted, interconnected, and enduring. Each knowledge system informs the practice of science and its role in society in a fundamental way, and the commonalities can provide a framework for developing mutually inclusive learning experiences in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
This special issue is part of a series hosted by the Tyee Solutions Society. In it, reporter Katie Hyslop explores several different models for BC Aboriginal education. There is great breadth of scope here from examining the context (successes and challenges faced by Aboriginal youth in BC as well as legislation and rights concerning indigenous education, and funding for indigenous education) to specific working models of Indigenous education both within BC and internationally.
Exploring the topic of reserve/band schools
In exploring education models that chose to focus more intensely on Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, I came across several interesting newspaper articles on reserve/band schools in BC. These articles shone a light on various aspects of the schools, from how they operate to how they are funded and fit within the provincial system. Here are some of the more relevant articles I encountered.
- How Chief Atahm Elementary School Became a Success Story (The Tyee, September 6, 2011)
- First Nations School teaches “all that culture stuff” (Globe and Mail, October 13, 2012)
- Low graduation rates at reserve schools put aboriginals in jeopardy: report (Globe and Mail, January 24, 2-16)