This week we were asked to read this article which suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (re-inhabitation)
(b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
We were given the following questions in response:
1. List some of the ways that you see re-inhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
There are a couple different ways that I see re-inhabitation and decolonization happening throughout this article. The first is in regard to autonomy for Indigenous people, and how this research was largely community-based and driven. In a lot of situations that deal with issues facing minority and marginalized groups, the majority and dominant groups see those issues as something they can easily solve for that marginalized group, without ever consulting them to see is that issue specific issue is something that even needs solving. There is a lot of imposition from one group onto another. However I don’t think that is what is going on in this research project. Throughout the article it is mentioned that the communities priorities guided where the research went as a whole. It was the community who identified the issue of intergenerational knowledge and language loss and it was the community that guided and decided on potential solutions to that issue. I think that people often carry the assumption that Indigenous people need help in the form of hand-outs from non-Indigenous people to be successful when that is certainly not the case. They have the ideas, the drive, and they know what their communities need, unfortunately it’s the resources that are often not there to carry out those things.
The second way that I see re-inhabitation and decolonization happening in this article is through the reintroduction of traditional ways of knowing through language. In everyday living I don’t think people realize how closely our language and how we see the world around us are connected. I think recognizing that relationship calls for deep inward reflection which is difficult to do. I only started to realize this connection when I began learning a second language and could separate myself from that process to look at a language and a culture that I did not personally identify with. The article provides a quick definition of ‘paquataskamik’, but there is an acknowledgement that it means so much more than that definition. The Mushkegowuk way of knowing is deeply rooted in language, so once certain words stopped being used, the way of knowing and viewing the world also fades away. The article describes the process of transferring of that important traditional language and knowledge from Elders to the younger generations.
2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
In taking these ideas into my own teaching I want to remember that all of my students come with different knowledge and ways of understanding, whether it is culturally based or not. Everyone comes with something different and that should be welcomed and celebrated.
When teaching Indigenous topics in my class I don’t want to fall into the trap of only teaching surface level elements of Indigenous culture, such as traditional food, clothing, or dance. While that is an important aspect to any culture and can be enjoyed by all, I don’t want to create the assumption in my students that that’s all there is to it. I hope I can foster the understanding that Canada’s relationship with First Nations people is troubling and Indigenous identity goes far beyond the superficial.