Aboriginal Education: A Research Brief for Practitioners

Aboriginal Education: A Research Brief for Practitioners is a short booklet created by the University of Alberta to help guide educators in designing lessons and programs for Indigenous students.  Although it is a little simplistic, there are a number of good suggestions and there is a valuable list of resources at the end of the booklet.  Although it is not as informative as some of the other sites, articles or papers that I have found, I include this booklet because of its very practical nature.    It provides specific approaches that may be of use in helping Indigenous students to be comfortable and engage in classroom activities.

November 15, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy

Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations is a paper written by Dr. Marie Battiste for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).  I started reading the article with a little bit of skepticism given its intended audience.  However, early on Dr. Battiste comments that:

“In the context of Indigenous knowledge, therefore, a literature review is an oxymoron because Indigenous knowledge is typically embedded in the cumulative experiences and teachings of Indigenous peoples rather than in a library.  The second point is that conducting a literature review on Indigenous knowledge implies that Eurocentric research can reveal an understanding of Indigenous knowledge.”  (Battiste, 2002; p. 1)

I have not read the entire paper yet, but the sections that I have read are interesting and explain the differences between Indigenous knowledge and western knowledge clearly and comprehensively.



November 15, 2012   No Comments

Culturally Relational Education in and With an Indigenous Community

Culturally Relational Education in and With an Indigenous Community is an article that appears in ‘in education‘ and open source, peer reviewed journal created by the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina.  The article details research into improving mathematics learning in Indigenous communities.  The authors used a “culturally relational” approach which involved listening to and interacting with the members of the community.  The article details different approaches to improving mathematics learning and related research approaches.

November 15, 2012   No Comments

Learning Patterns and Education

In my journey as a cyber-traveller, I have been searching for research on learning style preferences (if any) for Indigenous students.  I have heard, or perhaps read, that many BC Indigenous students prefer group work, collaboration and to be allowed time to reflect before responding rather than rapid fire questions.  I wanted to know if there was any research to back this up, and if so, what approaches or strategies could I use in my classroom to make the Indigenous students feel more comfortable and willing to share.  The search for answers to those questions lead me to this article.

Learning Patterns and Education of Aboriginal Children: A Review of the Literature is an article written by Carmen Rasmussen, Lola Baydala and Jody Sherman.  The visual qualities of the article and the fairly old reference list left me surprised that the publish date was 2004.  However, looking past the poor quality of the pdf, the contents of the article were intriguing.  The authors discuss trends in learning styles for Indigenous people, tying in cultural practices and how they might affect learning styles.  They offer a number of suggestions for classroom practice.  The article is respectful and repeatedly states that we need to be aware of and respectful of Indigenous cultures if we want to do our best for Indigenous students.


November 13, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing

This article begins with a story told by an elder that creates a vivid image of the Alaskan’s connection to the land and history.  Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing then goes on to discuss exactly what it says – Indigenous knowledge systems.  The article discusses “Indigenous worldviews, Native ways of knowing, cultural and intellectual property rights, and traditional ecological knowledge” and compares them to a Western scientific perspective.  I found the diagram on page 16 particularly enlightening.  It is a Venn diagram showing the approaches that Indigenous ways of learning use in one circle and the approaches that Western science uses in another, with the area of overlap called “Common Ground”.

The intent of the article is help “move the role of Indigenous knowledge and learning from the margins to the center of educational research, thereby confronting some of the most intractable and salient educational issues of our times.”

Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing – Ray Barnhardt and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, University of Alaska Fairbanks (2005)  (Published in Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Vol. 36, Issue 1, pp. 8–23)


November 13, 2012   No Comments

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Decolonization: Idigeneity, Education & Society is a peer-reviewed, online, open access journal.  The journal is very new – it’s first issue was released on September 17, 2012.  The website states that the journal is “committed to decolonization work within education, as part of a larger project of decolonization in society.”  The panel of peer-reviewers is listed on the site and includes people from a number of countries and disciplines.  The first issue can be accessed here.

As this is a new journal, there was not much to review.  However, the initiative and the impressive list of peer-reviewers makes it worth looking at.  The first issue contains and editorial, articles, poetry and the cover page is a beautiful piece of artwork.  The journal certainly speaks to the main topic of Module 3.

October 30, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Knowledge – UBC Facebook Page

This is quite the site.  There is a great deal of current information on this site and it is an example of social media spreading the word.  The site can be accessed at  http://www.facebook.com/DKUBC.

I took a few minutes to look through the site and was impressed by the amount of information on it, as well as ongoing discussions and links to upcoming conferences, speakers, activities and current topics.  The site was started in November 2010 and its description states:

Decolonizing Knowledge is a student-led initiative that facilitates strategies to reconcile the cultural misrepresentation and appropriation that occurs on the UBC Point Grey Campus. By building inter-cultural relationships with organizations and individuals on campus, and spreading accessible information outside of the classroom, Decolonizing Knowledge seeks to equip staff, students, and faculty members with the tools necessary to create a campus that is welcoming to all. (Quote from FB page found at http://www.facebook.com/DKUBC/info)

Definitely well worth a visit.

October 25, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Canada: A Non-Indigenous Approach

A Transformative Framework for Decolonizing Canada:  A Non-Indigenous Approach is a speech written by a doctoral student at the University of Victoria.  I found it truly illuminating.  The author, Paulette Regan, uses a story to describe the differences in communication between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people.  Her argument is that while non-Indigenous people ask for open dialogue and communication with Indigenous people, we are really asking for it on our terms.  We want them to communicate to us our way but are not willing to listen and respect their way of communicating.  Regan (2005) states that:

It is the gap between what we (as non-indigenous people) think we are doing- which is engaging with good intentions in an intercultural dialogue, and how Indigenous peoples experience that same event as a manifestation of deeply ingrained institutional colonialism and attitudes.
In these situations what we are really doing, whether unconsciously or not, is asking Indigenous peoples to fit within our cultural paradigm- to have the intercultural dialogue on our terms, not theirs. (p. 2)

Regan continues on to argue that non-Indigenous people need to stop looking at decolonization as something that “they” (the “other”) needs to do to reclaim what they have lost, but rather something that non-Indigenous people need to participate in so that we can understand the Indigenous perspective and realize how pervasive colonialism is.

To get ‘unstuck’ the non-indigenous … must focus not, as we have done so often with disastrous results, on the problem of the “other” (that is, Indigenous peoples) but turn our gaze, mirror-like, back upon ourselves, to what Roger Epp calls the “settler problem.” In essence, we must begin to take a more proactive responsibility for decolonizing ourselves. (Regan, 2005; p. 6)

Regan then goes on to share her vision of a transformative framework that uses the past to help us learn and move forward.


Regan, P. (2005).  A Transformative Framework for Decolonizing Canada: A Non-Indigenous Approach.  (Doctoral Student Symposium Speech)  Retrieved online at:  http://web.uvic.ca/igov/research/pdfs/A%20Transformative%20Framework%20for%20Decolonizing%20Canada.pdf

October 25, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge

The full name of the paper is Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge: The Role of Culture, Place and Personal Experience in Professional Development.  The pdf can be found here.  The paper discusses the attitudes of teachers to including Indigenous knowledge in their curriculum before and after a presentation on indigenous Hawai’ian science topics.

The paper was very hopeful, indicating that it is possible to change teachers’ attitudes towards including Indigenous knowledge.  What was even more interesting, was that the researcher cited Linda Smith’s (1999) book on Decolonizing Methodologies.  The author states that, “Linda Smith (1999), a Maori researcher, describes 25 decolonizing research projects to recover marginalized cultural knowledge, practices, and identity.” (Chinn, 2007; p. 1252).  Chinn (2007) then identifies five of these decolonizing methods that she used in the research.  A very interesting article and study on a variety of levels, and one that ties in math, science and Module 3’s theme of decolonization.


Chinn, P. W. U. (2007).  Decolonizing methodologies and indigenous knowledge: The role of culture, place and personal experience in professional development.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Volume 44, No. 9, p. 1247 – 1268.  Retrieved online at:  http://www.d.umn.edu/~bmunson/Courses/Educ5560/readings/Chin07-CultEnv.pdf

Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. NewYork: Zed Books Ltd.



October 23, 2012   No Comments

Crystal Atlantique

This site, Crystal Atlantique, outlines a research project on ethnomathematics.  The three main goals of the research are stated as:

  1. What mathematics is already present in the disenfranchised cultures (both traditional and modern)?
  2. What conflicts exist between the everyday mathematics in these cultures and Western school mathematics?
  3. How can this mathematical knowledge be incorporated into the learning and teaching of mathematics in school setttings?

The research progress states that the first year was dedicated to conversations with a mathematics teacher and five elders from Mi’kmaq community.  The tone of the site is respectful and includes other disenfranchised cultures (such as franophone communities).  There are also valuable links within this site to work done by David Wagner, an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick, on ethnomathematics.

As I search deeper into what information is available on the internet connecting mathematics and Indigenous people, I am made increasingly aware of the positive results found by applying ethnomathematics principles to mathematics instruction.  Helping students become aware of the depth of mathematical ability and the authentic prevalence of mathematics within their cultures is very powerful.  This site is one example of this type of research.

October 19, 2012   No Comments