The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
Reinhabitation takes place in the article's narrative as the elder, youth, and adults discuss the environment as their place. They identify and recover nature/environment as a place where the elders grew up and as a place where the youth should learn and will benefit their health. The narrative also discussed how to live well in the environment, such as near a river. The river is used for “fishing, hunting, camping … it’s also very beautiful, its pristine, and of course, it being a river, it also carries water that’s important for human life; it carries water, and its clean” (Restoule, 2013, p. 74). This illustrates a connection to nature and a purpose; how we live with it will determine its usefulness. In my own teaching, I could take my students on field trips to show the connection that Aboriginals have with nature all the time compared to my students' short time of feeling connected to nature. Actually experiencing something hands on will ensure my students' learn it and will benefit.
Decolonization takes place as the youth, adults and elders use media “to communicate the messages to the wider community about the experiences and perspectives of youth, adults and elders, about the river" (Restoule, 2013, p. 74) This identifies and changes other’s ways of thinking and exposing others to different spaces, such as a river. It also creates intergenerational relationships, something that many people may not be familiar with, especially if not from an Aboriginal community/background.
Language also is another example of both rein habitation and decolonization. Cree is being used less and less among Aboriginal peoples. The article mentioned that the youth use less specific words for things than the elders did and this is considered, to the elders, as a loss of culture. In my future thinking, I can introduce a variety of Aboriginal languages to my students. A constant reminder of Aboriginal culture and language would be to label items throughout the classroom. That act by itself should not be the only act, though, it should be paired with other efforts. Residential schools are an example of how language has been decolonized. In my own teaching I must consider the places that my students have been and what they have experienced. Students’ experiences, or lack off, may put them at an advantage or disadvantage for formal curriculum outcomes, in which I need to adapt my teaching to accommodate their experiences. This includes being sensitive and accepting of the familial struggles that Aboriginal families have gone through with residential schooling, possibly including loss of language for that particular family.
Restoule, J.P., Gruner, S., Metatawabin, E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education 32 (2), pg. 68-86.