Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

2.4.2 Moving beyond performance to student identity

We do believe a focus on student success and achievement is important. Yet we accept the caution highlighted by Hargreaves (2007) that a singular focus on achievement may result in a technical rather than personal approach. This is an important caveat: as the literature in Aboriginal approaches to education reminds us, student success involves more than test scores. It must embrace a wide definition of student success to include self-worth, cultural pride, and community aspirations. Here again the professional learning community literature is critical when it emphasizes the ways in which learning-centered cultures and ongoing relational learning is central to effective PLCs. Sustained efforts in inquiry are built when relationally informed, collaborative knowledge building is enabled, sustained and shared.

Both bodies of literature also emphasize the need for learning to be deeply informed by local circumstances and contexts, but also the value of having learning support systems (such as coaches, mentors or guides) in place in order to enrich and prompt deepened forms of learning. By extension, one could also argue that structural approaches, which facilitate the connection between teachers and communities, such as networks, could also be a tool that facilitates learning.

Finally, and likely most importantly, both bodies of literature emphasize the need to engage relationally for deep learning to be manifested. In other words, teachers who are engaged in deep personal and pedagogical learning are aided in this work when their practices and inquiries are collaboratively initiated and, by working with others, create a culture through which such learning is continuously reinforced and enabled. While the term relationally isn’t specifically evident in the literature described above, the emphasis on making interpersonal connections with students, community members, colleagues or Aboriginal community members is evident and emphasized by the authors cited.