After the readings this week, I was curious to investigate ways that technology could help retain culture (or at least parts of it). I had read about the loss of many Indigenous languages as the younger generations were no longer using them. Fortunately there are now groups that are emerging to help revitalize them.
I came across the CBC’s `Unreserved’ with Rosanna Deerchild episode titled, “Learn 4 words in 4 Indigenous languages in 4 videos” where four individuals are sharing their Indigenous languages with others.
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.
This weeks readings about the neutrality of technology had me reflecting on a lesson I used with my grade 8/9 technology class. The topic was media use for the advocacy of First Nations. Teaching to international students, I had to take a step back and introduce and explain what the terms Indigenous, Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit and First Nations meant. Many where unaware that their home countries too had Indigenous people. After a few background lessons, we then began to discuss the artwork of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. We watched two videos of totem poles being made and then we discussed the following questions.
What relationship does environment have with with First Nations art?
How is First Nations culture and society represented in the artwork?
Is this artwork any less beautiful or impressive when using modern technology?
The last question caused the most debate because many of the students found that by using CNC technology, something had been lost. The majority of the students believed that carving a totem pole by hand was harder and more time consuming and therefore more impressive and for some, also more beautiful. I found this a bit perplexing as the Generation Z (iGens) have known nothing but a life of technology and constantly seek the fastest route of action for an outcome. I too have to admit, even despite my love for technology, that I agree with them and it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on as to why I feel this way. The counter argument made by the minority of students was that it was equally impressive and beautiful and that not only were they continuing a longstanding tradition but they were also learning new 21st Century skills that would help them in “today’s world”.
I see both viewpoints. Both take skill and knowledge that must be passed down from elders. But when technology is involved sometimes a gain also means there is a loss. Perhaps in this scenario it’s that deeper spiritual connection the artist has with his/her hands on the wood and the time and care it took to create their piece of art.
This documentary film touches on important issues pertaining to the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Centered around paddleboarding as a vessel for action, we see how some Aboriginal youth in Bella Bella learn to make paddleboards in school as a way to connect to the land and to make something purposeful. Their engagement in evident in the way they speak about the boards and their connection to place. Their personalized boards, and they way they speak about them demonstrate how important their culture is to them. In connection with elders in the community, the youth are inspired to take action against the potential of oil spills on the Northwest Coast as a result of the Northern Gateway Pipeline by speaking at cultural gatherings and participating in a hunger strike. As the youth make their paddleboards and take action, it becomes evident that this is a project that is culturally responsive.
2. Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom:
This is the BC Ministry of Education’s 2015 document on Aboriginal worldviews in the classroom. Pages 39-57 focus on “Attributes of Responsive Schooling”. As an educator, this section of the document is less theoretical and more practical. It consists of participant responses to each principle of responsive education, with advice and suggestions to support educators. What strikes me with regards to this document, is the difficulty in which I had to find it on the BC Ministry of Education Website. Although Aboriginal education is integrated throughout the revised BC Curriculum, this document provides educators with practical information which lends to the visualization of responsive schooling.
3. In Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker, the following concepts are introduced for culturally responsive mathematics education: grounded in place, storywork, focused on relationships, inquiry based, requiring social consciousness and agency. Simon Fraser University’s Math Catcher Outreach Program uses the concepts of place, storywork, and inquiry to engage students in mathematics. They also offer classroom visits, workshops, and summer camps for Aboriginal children. The digital resources include youtube videos in English and one or more Indigenous languages and are all based on real life situations. They could also act as a math catalyst between school and home. I wonder how these resources are being implemented in the classroom and if they are being used with the other concepts of culturally responsive mathematics ed.
4. In the following TEDx talk entitled Aboriginal math education: Collaborative learning, Stavros Stavrou explains how he takes an “anti-oppressive math education” approach. He co-teachers with an Aboriginal teacher and attempts to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and principles of knowing with mathematics. Watching his lecture, his approach seems to echo the concepts of culturally responsive math education as outlined by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker in Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education. As an educator, this sounds like an amazing situation, where a non-native teacher specialist is able to collaborate and co-teach with an Aboriginal teacher. Stavrou provides an example of how he connected with a student on a cultural, mathematical, personal level. He illustrates for us what we hear echoed in the messages of Inuit youth in Alluriarniq – Stepping Forward, students are motivated and engaged when teachers connect with them personally.
This is a project, entitled Skins, conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) (Concordia University), where Aboriginal youth, in partnership with game experts learn to create digital games based on stories from their communities. Upon reading the paper, it becomes evident that much thought has been put into this project through consultation and connection with the Aboriginal community. Protocol is important as noted in the article and in the references which demonstrate depth of research around appropriate methodologies. There is evidence of the principles of culturally responsive education: “ 1) flexible curriculum, 2) a dedicated instructor connected to the community, 3) defined roles, and 4) creative freedom”. In addition, upon completion of the project researchers were able to conclude that, “Stories from the community came alive for the students in both the telling and discussions about them, and, ultimately, in the game itself. They were then able to synthesize their own original story, and furthermore, transform that narrative into a gamespace and gameplay.”
The following are resources on research and initiatives that include a focus on Indigenous learners and higher (post-secondary) education, including an experiential activity that can be used as a teaching tool:
This publication is dated, but still relevant to my research interests in post-secondary education, online learning and Indigenous learners. The author (one of the researchers in UVic’s Early Childhood Development Intercultural Partnerships mentioned below) addresses the need for online learning technologies and innovative instructional design to support Indigenous post-secondary education.
The Blanket Exercise is a “teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.” This site has a video and more information about incorporating this exercise into your teaching. The facilitated exercise (taught as a workshop) typically ends with a debrief via a talking circle.
This University of Victoria (UVic)-associated program of community-university research related to early childhood development in Canada and globally provides links to their research projects and publications (including presentations and media resources), some of which are Indigenous focused. You’ll also find links to external resources with an Indigenous focus, e.g., child and youth care organizations, programs at the University of Victoria, etc.
This webpage highlights courses, programs and specialization streams related to child and youth care practice in Indigenous contexts. Additional resources at the University of Victoria are also highlighted, including a link to all programs (undergraduate and graduate level) with Indigenous content, some of which are delivered via distance/online.
This is an article about a survey identifying the learning preferences of Indigenous online learners. The authors, from Thomas Rivers University, presented their findings at the International Academic Conference on Education and E-learning in Prague (unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate further information on this).
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.
Further to this common thread of perspective when it comes to technology and education, this article and interview features Mike Parkhill and Brent Tookenay and their collaborative project on using technology to revitalizing Indigenous languages. Parkhill argues that there is a need to modernize Indigenous languages – not just archive them. He provides the example of the work he did with modernizing the Inuktitut language, explaining that the word Ikiaqqivik is used for internet. It means “my body stays here but my soul travels other places to see”. This is so complex, I wonder about others’ perspectives on the necessity to “modernize” language, yet I also find the word choice to be thoughtful and intentional. How has this modernization been received? Especially when someone non-native is backing the technological aspect.
In the interview, Parkhill goes on to explain the reading app and literature that he has been involved in designing in which he includes phonetic text for the Maliseet language, a language that was only used orally. The intention is for people to read to/with their children, but because of tradition, this caused contention. I wonder if there aren’t better ways to honour tradition whilst highlighting language learning.
I am particularly interested in learning more about how indigenous people are using modern/western technologies in order to re-know/learn traditional ways of knowing and doing (technologies). This is something that I have been increasingly interested in as I hear more and more first-hand stories about how indigenous communities are connecting and sharing ancestral knowledge and using technologies to uncover artifacts that have journeyed far from their place. The following weblinks touch on key themes from Module 1, particularly that of place. I am quickly learning that perspective also lends to offshoots in conversation about technology and Indigenous education.
What I find particularly interesting is how this tweet illustrates the complexity and varying opinions on technology integration in education. Wab Kinew tweets “It’s important we move technology to early years and make sure every kid, not just the high achiever, learns to code”, sharing a New York Times article . This statement strikes me as quite contrary to much of our readings and many Aboriginal perspectives on western technology, but what strikes me as most interesting, are the comments that follow Kinew’s tweet suggesting an understanding of the natural world be more important. Kinew responds saying both technology and “critical thinking about the natural world” are important. But what does this look like? How can these two notions be married?
I have not yet decided on a direction for my research in this class, but am sharing what I have come across so far as I consider the readings we have done so far and am beginning to look forward to my own research project:
This collection of essays from indigenous and non-indigenous writers in Canada explores ideas related to the recommendations for truth and reconciliation. It is an eye-opening look at assumptions about first nations and colonization.
Metcalf-Chenail, D. (2016). In this together; Fifteen stories of truth and reconciliation. Victoria: Brindle & Glass Publishing.
This website showcases Tedx-style conversations by members of first nations and settler allies, attempting to shed light on historical and present-day first nations. I particularly like this one because, in addition to sharing first nations perspectives, it also is shared online in a Tedx style that has become familiar to anyone who spends time online: a short, single-camera lecture by one person in front of an audience that then lives online to be shared. The short duration of each video makes them more palatable to online viewers.
A Tribe Called Red is a Juno-award winning group of artists who mix traditional First Nations music with techno, hip-hop and electronica. They are active on social media platforms, interacting with audiences online and selling music via various online platforms. They are leveraging technology to share a modern iteration of First Nations culture
Open Minds is a collaboration between the Calgary public and catholic school boards and private enterprises. Teachers work collaboratively with facilitators to use community sites as a classroom for a week of place-based learning with the intent that the work will form a year-long project.
Many schools with high First Nations populations now offer Cree as a language of choice for students rather than French. This seems to be a logical step in engaging students who have a much closer connection to Cree than they do to French. It’s a way of valuing a culture and allowing students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. These schools engage aboriginal elders who work in the schools. The Calgary Public Board of Education will be formally taking on initiatives to meet the calls for the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In planning for this, Learning Leaders acknowledge that this may lead to a bottleneck in terms of needing aboriginal elders and experts to work in classrooms where demand exceeds the supply. Some tools that may allow classrooms to make first forays into learning include online access to Cree dictionaries and language.
The first source I looked at for this module was UNESCO – Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future: a multimedia teacher education programme. I looked at the Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability lesson module. It has six activities to teach teachers about Indigenous knowledge, providing them with definitions and background information. This source also compares Indigenous education to the formal education system.
The second source I looked at was called Word of Mouth. It is about Indigenous Knowledge from the peoples of Africa and how it is in danger of being lost: “Indigenous knowledge is local, mostly traditional knowledge covering medicine, agriculture, religion, rituals and many other spheres of every day life. It still plays a major role in many African countries today, is usually transmitted orally from one generation to the next and is therefore in danger of being forgotten. This section focuses on the exploration, research and recording of indigenous knowledge, and the improved access to it.” I found this to be a good source for my research paper as it talks about Indigenous peoples outside of Canada to help round out my paper. It also has many different articles and sources to access around Indigenous knowledge, the oral tradition, and using technology to preserve culture.
The third source I looked at was an academic paper written by Jane Hunter from the University of Queensland titled The Role of Information Technologies in Indigenous Knowledge Management; “Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) are being established globally, but particularly in Australia, Africa, Latin America and Asia. The capture and preservation of Indigenous Knowledge is being used to revitalize endangered cultures, improve the economic independence and sustainability of Indigenous communities and to increase community-based involvement in planning and development.” This was a good source for me to look at because it directly relates to my research topic on the role technology can play in the preservation of Indigenous cultures. It talks about what has already been tried and how successful those strategies were.
The fourth source I looked at is a brief article on how technology can help preserve language. One of the strategies that is discussed is digitizing stories to be read to children in Indigenous languages. So far they have some stories in four languages: Maliseet, Mi’kmaw, Ojibwe and Cree. There are multiple partners involved in this project and they believe that “part of the success of this is that the First Nations communities and elders are helping drive this, so they have ownership of it. I think one of the things that’s missed in the education system over the years is a lot of our First Nations communities and indigenous people weren’t part of the solution. They weren’t part of what goes on in designing curriculum” (Brent Tookenay, CEO of Seven Generations Education Institute.) http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/how-technology-and-education-can-help-preserve-aboriginal-languages
The fifth source I looked at was called Cultural Survival. I specifically looked at an article about how computers and technology can be used to preserve language.