The list of resources below continues my research into Indigenous spirituality and its incorporation into education. A more recent theme found is the link between spiritual strength and resiliency among Indigenous people.
This article discusses the uniqueness of Indigenous spirituality in that it is closely bound to cultural practices and daily living. Therefore, when researching the topic of Indigenous spirituality and resiliency, a holistic approach is needed.
One conceptual framework suggested is that of ‘enculturation’ or the degree to which spirituality is integrated within the culture which, in turn, leads to protective factors, such as better academic achievement and lower substance abuse.
Another framework is ‘cultural spiritual orientation’ which is also predictive of protective factors against substance abuse and suicide, but which can be distinguished from the specific spiritual beliefs of the tribe in question.
The goal of the research is to enable communities to use their own cultural and spiritual traditions to promote resilience.
This article discusses how essential it is to include spirituality in any study looking at Indigenous knowledge. Spirituality is the basis for the cultural concept of ‘personhood’ which involves their relationship to others and to the world. It is intricately tied to the notion of well-being and thus must be included in any discussions of healing from colonization.
This piece discusses the reclamation of traditional spiritual practices within Indigenous communities and specifically how spiritual strength fosters general resiliency.
It is written from a social worker’s perspective on how to honour and integrate the spirituality of Indigenous clients.
Stevens sees spirituality as an important component of healing for everyone, but for Indigenous peoples, it is also central to identity, purposefulness and resilience which can be seen to be manifested in their daily living.
In this book, each chapter is filled with stories of how a limited recognition of spirituality decreases the richness of learning experiences, especially for those who see the world holistically, wherein everything is interconnected.
In addition, an absence of spirituality in education, under the auspices of ‘rationality’, undermines the knowledge foundations of Indigenous societies and belies the fact that we are connected to each other and the world in subjective ways.
This is a literature review on Aboriginal literacy designed to provide information and direction for those working in the field of Aboriginal literacy.
It describes people as having a body, heart, mind and spirit, with spirit being the most important part because that is the essence of who you are. Therefore, they state that it is imperative that adult educators engage learners spiritually by helping them make meaning out of what they are learning, in order to help them answer their deepest questions, as these are a people who believe that we are one with creation, not separate from it.
The learning spirit is the state of being that facilitates learning and will help a person fulfill his/her purpose for being in this life.
Kitchen, J., Cherubini, L, Trudeau, L., & Hodson, J. (2009, Fall). Aboriginal education as cultural brokerage: New aboriginal teachers reflect on language and culture in the classroom. McGill Journal of Education, 44(3), 355-376. Retrieved from: http://mje.mcgill.ca/article/viewFile/2853/3980
This is an interesting report on six Aboriginal teachers in Ontario using a talking circle to explore their roles as teachers as they prepare their students to walk between two parallel but very different worlds.
They state that Aboriginal education is oriented around a ‘spiritual centre’ and that it is important that aboriginal teachers attend to their own healing if they are going to be expected to heal and teach others.
“Our Aboriginal spirituality is a link from the past to the present a shared pathway that helps us to understand more about where we come from and who we are as people.” (Micalleff, 2017, para. 16).
This site tells a particular creation story. However, more importantly, it explains the importance of handing down ‘dreaming’ stories as part of Aboriginal education in Australia. These stories link people over time to physical places in creation. Micallef also describes how the land then becomes a cultural connection to their prehistoric history.
This article discusses the concept of ‘spiritual ecology’ which is the “application of special intellectual, ritual, psychological, and spiritual teaching tools that facilitated deep levels of learning and understanding” (Cajete, 1994, p. 223, as cited in Weenie, 2012, p. 59) and which is the essence of meaningful and constructive Indigenous curriculum.
For Weenie, ceremonies and traditional activities, like storytelling, provide a ‘spiritual sustenance’. In time, the deep significance of these teachings can induce direct and powerful understandings of basic truths about how to interact with the world.
The Elders teachings that ‘everything has a spirit’ leads to the principle of living in harmony with the environment and developing healthy communities.
The incorporation of spirituality into everyday life seems to be a value in many Indigenous communities. I am, therefore, interested in finding out how this is done within educational environments and whether or not this is even done in online learning environments. My ultimate focus will likely be on adult education, as I work in a post-secondary environment. However, at this point, I am not limiting my research to that age group.
These are the some of resources I have examined recently:
Astin, A. W., Astin, H. S., & Lindholm, J. A. (2010). Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives. San Francisco, California: John Wiley & Sons.
What is an academic’s role in a student’s spiritual development? Faculty are only responsible for the academic and professional progress of their students, aren’t they? Perhaps they are, but the fact remains that students are asking questions, such as: “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose in life?” and “What kind of world should I help to create?” These all have spiritual overtones.
This book examines the role that post-secondary education has in student spiritual development. According to Astin, et al. (2010), although religious practice may decline during these years, spiritual growth is enhanced, which in turn enhances other college outcomes.
So although this book does not deal with Indigenous spirituality in education, it is a good starting point for examining spirituality in post-secondary education, which is where my interests lie.
In New Zealand, Maori education initiatives have grown to include Maori values, beliefs, and spirituality. This challenges the definition of secular education in New Zealand.
This article discusses the moral obligation to include Indigenous values within education in order to develop understanding and respect for their unique cultural identity. Are they broad enough concepts to have relevance for a diverse student population? Some say yes. However, others believe that even concepts such as self-worth and personal identity are too personal and intrusive to be discussed in a public classroom.
On the other hand, the Maori do not believe that they should be expected to fragment their lives and values and therefore wish their spiritual values to be taught alongside the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social ones. They believe that “a natural acceptance of spirituality…creates a moral space in which people’s values and beliefs can co-exist without excuse or apology in secular education”.
Although I had planned on keeping my focus on Canadian Indigenous peoples, this article describes some issues that I believe will be faced in Canadian society as we begin to teach about aspects of Indigenous culture in mainstream Canadian classrooms.
LaFever, M. (2016). Switching from Bloom to the medicine wheel: Creating learning outcomes that support Indigenous ways of knowing in post-secondary education. Intercultural Education, 27(5), 409-424.
LaFever uses the Medicine Wheel as a framework for learning outcomes. She sees it as expanding the three domains of learning, as described by Bloom (cognitive/mental, psychomotor/physical, and affective/emotional) while adding a fourth dimension of spirituality.
Having begun my exploration of the psychology of learning by studying Bloom, I am most interested in seeing how his theories are enhanced by Indigenous ways of knowing.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (2016, June 14). Native spirituality guide. Retrieved from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/native-spirituality-guide
This website was found in the reference of the LaFever article. I found it intriguing that the RCMP would have a guide for their employees on the understanding of sacred practices of aboriginal peoples in Canada.
The RCMP sought out four different elders in creating the guide and gave additional thanks for permission to digitally publish this knowledge, considering the fact that many elders do not consent to having their knowledge reproduced in this fashion.
The article goes on to list important concepts, such as the Circle of Life, the Medicine Wheel, and the Four Powers. It then outlines various ceremonies and ceremonial objects.
There is also a section on the treatment of medicine bundles by law enforcement officials, particular during legal searches, so that these objects are treated with the respect that they deserve.
Although very simplistic, the information contained on the site would be a very good starting point for someone with little or no knowledge of these sacred objects and traditions.
The main thing that surprised me about the website was that it did not distinguish between Canadian Indigenous cultures. Depending on what regions of the country and RCMP officer serves in, he/she will be exposed to considerable variation in belief and practice.
Elizabeth Tisdell is also the author of the book Exploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education. (2003). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass. This article briefly discusses some of the themes explored more fully in her later publication.
This article discusses the connection between spirituality and culture and how educational experiences that allow for their expression can be both culturally relevant and transformative to the students involved.
What is unique about this article is that it connects knowledge construction to the unconscious processes which are often culturally and spiritually based, such as the use of image, symbols, music, and ritual.
As mentioned in my introductory post, I am interested in how educational institutions may create spaces and opportunities to honour the spirituality of individuals and communities. Therefore, I am interested in researching how Indigenous people incorporate spirituality into their own educational programs.
The following resources represent my first foray into cyberspace to find out what’s going on out there. (The sites found are listed in alphabetical order by author.)
This literature review discusses Indigenous knowledge and recommends an educational framework and steps to improve the educational outcomes of First Nations peoples. It admits that in calling itself a ‘literature review’ it is a attempt to describe Indigenous knowledge through a Eurocentric lens. However one must start somewhere, so this is a review of the existing literature on Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy which the author hopes will, in turn, inform educational reform.
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, pedagogy in First Nations education, epistemology, learning processes, cognitive other
The Medicine Wheel is a symbol used by many Indigenous cultures to represent the importance of the interrelatedness of all things. In this article, Bell explains how the Medicine Wheel may be used as a guide along an educational journey. In fact, she describes how honouring the gifts of each of the four directions may lead us to different learning processes as we move from standard linear models to the spiraling concepts of (a) awareness (East) with the call to envision or ‘seeing it’, (b) understanding (South) with the call for interrelationship over time or to ‘relating to it’, (c) knowledge (West) with the call to reason or to ‘figuring it out’, and finally, (d) wisdom (North) with the call for movement or to ‘doing it’. Bell then goes on to describe how this pedagogy has been used in practice.
Keywords: aboriginal, curriculum, educational change, elementary school
This is a book review of “The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality” by Blair Stonechild. The review is helpful because Brandhagen describes its ties to education, specifically to the history of Stonechild’s experience and challenges faced in a post-secondary education environment. It also describes the ‘sacred activity’ of learning and how “creating a new First Nations education system was one of the ways to bring focus back to honouring First Nations culture, community, language, and spirituality after the residential schools had existed for generations for the sole purpose of destroying those very relationships” (Brandhagen, 2017, para. 4). The description of learning as a sacred activity is an important one, as it speaks to the impact of education on individuals and communities. Although written by a Canadian from a Canadian-Indigenous perspective, Stonechild has researched the spirituality of Indigenous cultures from around the world, giving it a relevance beyond our borders.
Keywords: Indigenous spirituality, education, oral knowledge, First Nations culture
This is a brief announcement from the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba, indicating that they would be co-hosting the Aboriginal Education Research Forum and the Canadian Symposium on Indigenous Teacher Education. It took place April 24th and 25th, 2017. Of interest to me is that this year’s theme was Embedding Spiritual and Sustainable Wisdom in Education and Research as and Act of Reconciliation. The hope is that by honouring “the need to value Indigenous knowledge traditions…will ultimately positively impact educational outcomes” (McDougall, 2017, para. 3). It is my belief that by respecting students as whole beings with spiritual needs and perspectives will support them in achieving their educational goals.
This is the follow-up story to the above announcement. It describes how the keynote speaker’s (Dr. Chantal Fiola’s) spiritual journey not only shaped her identity but also informed her research and teaching practice. She makes the astute comment, “Many people think that spirituality is important to education. It’s just that for several generations, it was a particular kind of religion that was taught” (McDougall, 2017, April 26, para. 4). This not only refers to the sad history of Canada’s residential school system but can also be said to refer to all parochial schools and colleges with religious affiliations. Therefore, the connection between religion and spirituality is not new, it is just now being allowed to be revived in certain communities. So she asks, “What actions are we taking in our classrooms, and in our school systems to make space for different spiritualties?” (McDougall,2017, April 26, para. 6). It is a good and relevant question.
Keywords: Shawane Dagosiwin, spirituality in reconciliation, spirituality in education
Stonechild has seen the full spectrum of aboriginal education in Canada, from being a residential school survivor to helping develop a First Nation-controlled post-secondary institution. In this article, he summaries his view on the importance of spirituality in education. He explains that aboriginal spirituality is about establishing a health relationship with all things, especially with one’s family, nation, and Nature itself. On this physical journey, learning is a sacred mission. Those who have lost touch with their spiritual roots may forget the importance of maintaining healthy interrelationships and so turn to substance abuse, crime and gang activities. Therefore, researching, writing and teaching about the principles of Aboriginal spirituality is very important at this time.