Monday, February 11, 2013

Be a Part of @Starleigh_Grass 's #sd78 Workshop

Hello everyone!

On Friday, February 15th, 2013 my colleague Starleigh Grass will be presenting workshop Bitterroot as a Metaphor for Indigenous Education in my school district: Fraser Cascade School District.  Starleigh is an education blogger and tweeter and can be found at @starleigh_grass on Twitter or at, an excellent resource for those of you who should all be working to integrate Indigenous content into your classrooms and curriculum.

I will be introducing and Hosting Starleigh for this workshop (I don't know what hosting means, so it should be interesting.  I suspect it means making sure she has water in case she gets thirsty, but who knows).  In any case, I will be live-tweeting the workshop under the hashtag #sd78, and reading out any comments or questions that you may have for Starleigh on the topic we are covering.  That's right, it's your chance to get interactive and involved with the Bitterroot workshop.  There are several areas where we will be inviting audience participation and I will use this time to read any tweets you have for me out to the audience.

"The workshop also pauses to discuss three overarching inquiry questions:
1. If the roots of educational inequality are the invisibility of Indigenous thought and contributions in education as well as a history of education for assimilation, what are the solutions?
2. How can we hold our institutions accountable for decolonizing/indigenizing education?
3. What role do I play in decolonizing education?"

If for whatever reason you can't sit in on the live-tweet or attend the session, we will be doing a Twitter mailbag, using the #sd78 hashtag.  Just ask your question, share your discussion point regarding the above questions and I will check them out before the beginning of the session and put it all together for discussion.  Check out the following links to learn more about Starleigh's presentation if you can't make it: Bitterroot as a metaphor for locally contextualized curriculum reform and
Bitterroot as a Metaphor for Decolonizing Education .

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Starleigh will be writing up a summary and posting about it.  I might too. Let's take over the #sd78 hashtag on Friday to discuss decolonization.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Savages: Why Aboriginal Education Matters

Just a short video highlighting some of the recent online commentary, against Idle No More, I put together to remind you of why Aboriginal Education is important in Canada.  Set to Growing Pains, an excellent song by two former students of mine, Darren "Statt" Florence and Trevor "Bigg Phresh" Florence.  I think the images complement the song, which I have used repeatedly to share a story of the lived experience of First Nations' youth but also to illustrate the larger issues of colonialism and the ongoing legacy of residential schools.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Time for Educators to be Idle No More

From Evernote:

Time for Educators to be Idle No More

On Saturday, February 2, 2013 I sent an email to my Superintendent, the District Aboriginal Education Coordinator and my local Teachers' Association and informed them of my desire to hold an Idle No More rally/ teach-in during the school district's upcoming professional development day on February 15, which is ostensibly focused on Aboriginal Education.  This is an important opportunity to teach what the message of Idle No More is to the educators in my school district, but also to share with them the hard truth of Aboriginal Education in British Columbia: that we, as teachers are failing our youth; that we are complicit in creating the environment that allows for their continued oppression and for the tensions and racism we see out in the "real world" and online.

Teachers, Administrators, Ministry and Trustee people, as a whole need to understand the relationship between our curriculum and the systemic attitudes we are witnessing right now.  Stereotypes exist not because there is truth there, they exist because educators have modeled it is okay to think that way.  The stereotype that First Nations people don't care for education and don't like to work is built because educators don't challenge it, allowing people to trot it out when they see Native people protesting the unfair way we are treated in this country or to protect our rights.  Stereotypes that there is a difference between "Taxpayers" and "Indians" exist because our curriculum teaches the Canadian myth of the benevolent society, that Canada saved First Nations from themselves and the elements.  It is hidden in the context of our curriculum and it is odious.  That we do not challenge it, as educators, call it out and say this is not the reality, serves to reinforce it, whether intentionally or not.

We are telling our kids they have to give who they are to succeed.

How do we decolonize the education system?  Not by offering, half-heartedly, First Nation focused courses or holding cultural events to "celebrate" a local nation or culture.  We decolonize be changing the way we think about teaching our youth.  We change the way we look at the curriculum, seeking out the hidden contexts and challenging them.  We decolonize by not letting the status quo stand just because we are comfortable with it.  We change by recognizing what is unacceptable and challenging it.  We need to teach that is is NOT OKAY TO THINK THAT WAY.  We need to recognize that Aboriginal Education needs to be for all students so that going into the "real" world, our kids will not be subject to that kind of thinking any longer.

I have strived to teach my students to resist by succeeding, to show they can live in two worlds without having to give up any part of themselves.  Our education system has always demanded Aboriginal students walk in one world, while claiming otherwise.  It is time for us to stop living that ideology and embrace the idea of two worlds epistemologies.  Only then will we see some sort of equality, some sort of equity.

We, as educators, are the ones who have been idle far too long and it is our kids that lose out because of it.