Idle No More by S. Pete (2017). (*Chapter 3)
Meschachakanis, A Coyote Narrative: Decolonising Higher Education by S. Pete (2018) (*Chapter 10)
When reading Idle No More and Meschachakanis, A Coyote Narrative: Decolonizing Higher Education by Shauneen Pete, I was teleported back to my teacher education program. Pete, an indigenous resource coordinator and professor, tells of her experiences of exhaustion and conflict with students. This conflict arose when teaching them the importance of indigenous education. She asserts indigenous education is not “extra” to teaching, education, or the curriculum but is those things. I remember all too well students within my own education program asking when they were going to “learn how to teach.” I can sympathize with both positions. The students, including myself, knew the system of education they were taught and had expectations that their teacher program would show them how to teach in a similar manner. Furthermore, many other courses in the program set a “classic” or settler focused approach to education. Only a few teachers in my program, much like Pete, challenged those expectations and it made some upset, particularly when many of us were accused of being racist.
It took a lot of time for people to come around to the teachers’ way of thinking. I recognize now what Pete and my teacher were doing. They needed to challenge our preconceived notions of education and do it in a startling way. It worked for some, but it shut a lot of students down as well and caused them to not participate in class other than the bare minimum to pass the course.
I really enjoyed reading Pete’s point of view on this situation. Having been on the student side it was hard at times to see what the teacher must have been going through. Pete’s words are very eye opening. I am intrigued by Pete’s repeated regrouping and reattempts to integrate indigenous education into her curriculum. Despite numerous setbacks she was able to try a different angle until she found what worked for her.
Now and educator myself, I see the challenges of Pete’s work and people like her far more clearly then I did when I was in my teacher program. I have tried very hard to teach with an indigenous educational focus in my classroom. Admittedly, I fail more often than I succeed but I feel I am getting better. I include many indigenous projects, such as bentwood boxes, drums, carving, and paddles. When we make these projects, we work through indigenous design and connect with our local community and band, the T’Souke Nation. This is all a start and I still have a long way to go to properly indigenizing my educational methods.
Both articles did challenge me in many ways to improve my classroom. First, I hope to include more information focused on First Nation and Metis artists/carvers/builders. Further, I would like to include projects related to current indigenous issues and concerns. Instead of giving trinket gifts to elders/role models when they share with my classes, I need have the class and myself do something for them in return for so graciously giving up their time and sharing their knowledge. Lastly, I need to do my own research in how to better indigenize my courses instead of relying on others to do my work for me. I plan to check out the works of Dr. Rauna Kuokkanen & Dr. Marie Battiste, among others, as suggested by Pete.
As research, I find both of Pete’s papers to be very clear and well written. She has taken an auto-ethnographic approach and inserted elements of story telling which not only enhance her points but also make them more enjoyable and colourful to read. Her use of “Coyote” as a blunt truth-speaker to her thoughts really emphasizes her points in a fun and engaging way. Her research is important in that it conveys indigenous points of view and the requirements of healthy indigenous education to be implemented into the modern classroom.
Both papers are neither quantitative or qualitative but more based on Pete’s lived experience. When in class, Pete shared her story and explained her love for story telling. I found the part of her story where she described her dissertation very interesting. Her work was presented in the way of a story rather than traditional academic methods and some judging members of her work were unsure of how to perceive that or whether her work was admissible. The use of story made a great point about traditional academia/education not considering outside or other methods, sent home her point of having to fight constantly for indigenous point of view in education, and did it in an engaging and sympathizing way.