Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

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

7.6 Learning Aboriginal pedagogy and principles of Aboriginal learning

Yet educators like the individual profiled above are not in abundance in BC schools. The majority of teachers are non-Aboriginal and as a result have particular biases and ways of thinking about schooling that need to be unpacked. This effort to unpack and dismantle colonial mindsets is part of what we have already highlighted in our earlier discussion as necessarily reflexive; that is, it is more than applying inclusive pedagogical practices to what one does, but more about how one thinks and enacts a self that is more inclusive and accepting of all learners.

We certainly saw evidence during this impact assessment that teachers are engaging deeply in this work; but we also believe that we can say with some certainly that not all teachers are yet at this point of embracing and integrating such ways of thinking into their core teaching and personal identities. On the basis of our observation and analysis, we believe there may well be stages in how such teachers’ thinking evolves over time as they become immersed in and work through their AESN inquiry process. It is these stages of thinking or approaches to working with Aboriginal learners that we want to describe next.

Earlier in this report we offered an analysis of more than 50 cases of AESN inquiries completed between 2009 and 2012. In this summary it was noted that about 27 inquiries were focused on academic success and 16 more focused on Aboriginal student life opportunities and a sense of belonging. This seems to indicate an emerging pattern. We will look carefully at two of these cases to consider how they might illustrate a pattern of professional learning and growth among AESN members.