Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Living Alongside: Teacher Educator Experiences Working in a Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Living Alongside: Teacher Educator Experiences Working in a Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program

Article excerpt

Living Alongside: Teacher Educator Experiences Working in a Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program

Introduction

International Indigenous education research offers "growing evidence that the culturally responsive model does, in fact, improve academic success" (Brayboy & Castagno, 2009, p. 31) for Aboriginal learners. This is bourne out both by mainstream criteria, such as higher standardized test scores, and Indigenous criteria, such as the preservation of language, culture, and sustaining the self-determination movement (Brayboy & Castagno, 2009). The engine that drives this emergent consensus among Indigenous peoples can be best described as education that embraces a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations rather than the assimilative model of the past and the present (Author, 2009). This notion of a "culturally responsive pedagogy of relations" is defined by Bishop, O'Sullivan & Berryman (2010) as:

   ... education in which power is shared between self-determining
   individuals within non-dominating relations of interdependence;
   where culture counts; where learning is interactive, dialogic and
   spiral; and where participants are connected and committed to one
   another through the establishment of a common vision of what
   constitutes excellence in educational outcomes. (p. 20)

Supporting a pedagogic shift of this magnitude presents significant challenges for existing Indigenous teacher education programs as many continue to be assimilative in orientation. In ideal circumstances, the shift towards a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations in teacher education will be achieved through the work of credentialed teacher educators who are culturally/linguistically proficient members of Aboriginal communities. Universities seeking to create culturally responsive teacher education programs--or revise programs that are assimilative in nature--confront one of the legacies of colonization: that individuals who combine professional credentials with competency in language and culture are not readily available. In Canada and elsewhere, Aboriginal education must of necessity begin with available human resources and help them to become agents of culturally responsive education for Aboriginal youth.

A new 5-year Bachelor of Education Primary/Junior (Aboriginal) program (BEd) administered by a southern Ontario university in partnership with the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council in northwestern Ontario faced such challenges as it sought to identify and support teacher educators in its program. The instructors who taught courses in the program were a varied group that included a Nishnawbe-Aski educator, other Aboriginal educators, Euro-Canadian university professors with teaching and/or research experience with Aboriginal peoples, and experienced Euro-Canadian educators.

This paper, which is part of a larger study of this program, focuses on the experiences of this group of eight teacher educators in the BEd program. Through an analysis of interviews conducted with those educators, we identified five themes as important in effective and culturally responsive practice by teacher educators working with Aboriginal teacher candidates:

* Relational knowing,

* Promoting self-identity and cultural identity,

* Teaching through language and culture,

* Curriculum and pedagogical expertise

* Epistemic conversations with Aboriginal staff.

While many participants lacked the background to be truly culturally responsive--in the sense of teaching through language and culture--they enjoyed success due to their ability to live alongside teacher candidates. These five emergent themes are highlighted to explore what it means to live alongside Aboriginal teacher candidates and how culturally responsive teacher education programs can benefit Aboriginal peoples.

Theoretical Framework

From the point of contact, teacher education has been the primary site in the struggle of Indigenous people to free themselves from assimilative forces and assert their right to self-determination (Smith, 1999). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.