Learning from Place

In the article Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin, critical pedagogy is described as  a concept which “aims to: (a)identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization). (p. 9)

An example of reinhabitation in this article occurs when the facilitators and the students go on the river trip together. The facilitators take the students on a literal journey onto the lands that were once abandoned after colonial practices were imposed on the Mushkegowuk people. Another example of this concept is the interactions between the elders and the students because together the students and elders restored value and meaning to the land that once was stripped of value and respect.

An example of decolonization in this article was when the participants renamed parts of the Albany river, which allowed the participants to fully realize their connection with the river after it was officially named by Europeans. Another example is the reteaching of traditional indigenous values and traditional ways of knowing land, spirituality and ways of life. When younger generations are taught these concepts, those generations can distinguish themselves more from the colonial system which has been imposed upon them.

I will look to adapt the concepts of reinhabitation and decolonialization in my classroom by providing current examples of colonial systems at play in our society. I will incorporate the location or “place” in which I am teaching when providing these examples. I will always question the underlying history of where I am teaching and discuss this with my students. I hope to incorporate the insights nature can give us; how the history of the people and the land can be essential knowledge to understanding current political issues and ideologies in order to help students discover their own perspectives of land-based learning. As I will be teaching primarily in the humanities, I will work to bring in guest speakers to offer different perspectives on the topics I am instructing in. I will encourage discussions where students are given the opportunity voice their opinions and questions. I will present history from different perspectives while relating it back to present day issues. I hope to keep social studies classes relevant to the students lives and be able to keep students engaged throughout the lessons.

Learning from place and the critical pedagogy that accompanies it is a very complex and abstract concept that I am still struggling to grasp. It is a vast area of curriculum studies that can help educators better understand how to support anti-oppressive movements in education.

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