Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

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

7.7.1 Sharing is the gift of the Network

We were struck again by the idea of sharing as a gift when we reviewed the transcripts of our discussions with teachers in the Nanaimo focus group. On this occasion, one AESN and district leader, herself an Aboriginal educator said:

“In Aboriginal cultures across Canada we get together for celebrations, and part of the protocol is sharing and cultural gift giving. I was sitting next to an Elder today; she was talking about that kind of sharing. The Network gives us access to shared learning. Linda and Judy say sharing is the gift. We all have access to the case studies people have done, and we acknowledge this, like an Aboriginal protocol. But sharing, giving it away is what we do; we don’t hold onto anything. That’s a good way of thinking about the Network. The cases and the work are great resources because as professionals we are always learning and learning from each other.”

We think this idea of sharing as a gift is a powerful one; but we also think that the traditional forms of learning practiced in many Aboriginal cultures (and recognized in the principles of Aboriginal learning and the culturally inclusive pedagogical practices we’ve highlighted in our report) informs this idea significantly. It speaks to how the sharing of knowledge benefits not self, but others. That the purpose of teaching and engaging in deep learning is so that the benefit spreads and is used by those who take it and make it their own. Learning in this way is integral to the cyclical and emergent process emphasized through the cycle of inquiry promoted by the Network and in some cases, in district structures and processes (such as in Prince Rupert and Arrow Lakes).