Leadership, Gender and Culture in Education: Male and Female Perspectives

By John Collard; Cecilia Reynolds | Go to book overview

11 Leadership and Aboriginal
Education in Contemporary
Education: Narratives of
Cognitive Imperialism
Reconciling with
Decolonization

Marie Battiste

Like a river that winds its path around an environment, bubbling and diving in different places, aboriginal education has had a bewildering path. Aboriginal peoples in North America have always had their own ways of teaching, learning and knowing. In the treaty process, the British sovereign promised them they could maintain their own knowledge, sciences and humanities. Most of the First Nations treaties required the Crown to fund their parents' choice for education so that children could learn new skills and abilities to complement their Aboriginal knowledge system. However, federal governments in North America provided formal Eurocentric-based education, beginning with day schools, horrendous residential schooling, and massive, destructive adoptions to non-First Nations families. All of these forms of education sought to destroy Aboriginal knowledge and languages and replace them with an Anglo-centric ideology and identity.

When all these failed, the federal government in Canada contracted education services for First Nations children with provincial educational systems. This new attempt also failed, and the few first-generation First Nations educators demanded Indian control of Indian education. First Nations acquired some control over their band school, but were forced to comply with the provincial curriculum and English instruction. Discourses for analysing these fatal policies have generated a profusion of studies. This chapter addresses four narratives of cognitive imperialism generated by recent studies. Combining notions of race and gender, these narratives have shaped contemporary educational responses to Aboriginal students and contributed to today's Aboriginal identity crisis.

I seek to address how to decolonize these four narratives to achieve effective educational strategies. As a Mi'kmaw educator in Canada, I offer some thoughts about these narratives and a required healing process. Over the past

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