Preparing for the Treaty event, and our topic reimaging education caused me to think a little deeper on the topic of Treaty Ed in our schools. During my preparation for the Treaty event I researched a little on exactly what the differences were in Indigenous education vs the settler image of education. As I worked through that information, I began to think of challenging questions that may come up, as Tessa and I presented. Thinking through those questions, which by the way, never did come up, allowed me to see that Indigenous ways of education are beneficial to all students and families.
The Indigenous ways of education seem to focus very much on learning by doing, inquiry or experiential learning. The learning comes from working along side and observing others who have a higher skill level in a certain task than the learner. The learning focuses on the process rather than the end product. Much of Indigenous learning also takes place in nature, on the land.
How do we bring this way of learning into the classroom? Well we recognize first and foremost that the process of learning is valuable perhaps even more so than the end product. We as teachers bring in parents, Elders, and others who have knowledge, we allow our students to see that we are not experts at everything. We acknowledge and incorporate the local Indigenous languages in our displays, books. We play music that is important to our Indigenous students and we include the ceremonies that are significant as much as we do the settler ceremonies. In our homes and communities we talk about what our children are learning about Treaty Education in their classrooms and expand on that knowledge. We talk to the policy makers about making Treaty Ed a part of the mainstream curriculum and not an add on hidden at the bottom of the curriculum website. In our communities, we talk about the token pledges and art work, so that those things have meaning and significance not just things that decorate the wall and look good.
These idea along with many others are important in the reconciliation process. These things begin in a very small way to recognize that education was a Treaty promise. In order to have reconciliation we need to begin to honour the Treaty promises. These small ways as they become commonplace ideally lead to bigger ideas and actions. The end result being that we see that Indigenous ways of learning benefit every child.