Having had such a large emphasis on Western education and pedagogies, it was pleasing to explore the diverse and rather unique ways of learning from a completely different cultural perspective.
Over the duration of the week I have read over the ‘8 ways’ wiki several times and have collaborated with a few peers on their thoughts and ideas on this interesting way of learning. I have been able to very easily compare and contrast these 8 ways to our Western pedagogy, specifically when looking at our good old buddy Bloom’s taxonomy. In short, it appears that the Indigenous ways of learning are much more focused on ‘processes’ and exploring the ‘why’ of learning by making rich connections particularly with the community and the land. Western pedagogies however are much more focused on attaining a particular learning objective- no matter the process. We tend to be very outcome based and as a result our focus is directed to content rather than process.
In exploring these 8 ways of Indigenous learning, I noticed a reoccurring pattern of vocab derived from their pedagogy: ‘relations, relationships, relate, relational, relating’. To me this meant that the ‘point of entry into this way of knowing’ is more or less about making authentic connections to and from things that are truly meaningful (land, people, language, culture etc). In many of my reflections about Western pedagogy, I’ve discussed the importance of collaborative learning, developing communities of practice, making real life connections and learning in authentic and meaningful environments in order to enhance learning. And from what it looks like, the Indigenous community have almost nailed it with these 8 ways: “Tell a story. Make a plan. Think and do. Draw it. Take it outside. Try a new way. Watch first, then do. Share it with others.” So how can we use these insights to compliment our own Western pedagogies?
We can start by looking at the WAY we learn in a less linear and rigid way by allowing for a constant flow of connections and emphasizing on the process rather than the outcome. Take the kids outside, allow them to share their ideas not just in a 10 minute ‘think, pair, share’ activity, but through a ONGOING flow of communication. Let the children learn THROUGH nature, provide opportunities for making connections to symbols, objects and the community. And lastly, don’t let the finished product/outcome of a learning experience be the end… allow for the learning to be endless by providing students with infinite ways they can use their new knowledge to help better their community.
8 Aboriginal Ways of Knowing. 2009. Retrieved from http://8ways.wikispaces.com/