REnewing Education with Indigenous Wisdom
“To find new ways of transmitting knowledge, we must first find a new knowledge. To find a better medium we must find a better message.”Parker palmer, To know as we are Known
Parents, teachers and school administrators are in the middle of reimagining school. It’s a difficult time, as all transitions tend to be.
And the time is ripe . . . to find a new knowledge, a better message. To move toward an education based in relationship: between teacher and student and subject and world. It is time to raise up our young people in connection to the world—when we see ourselves as part of the whole, we want to contribute. Partnership, not domination becomes our destiny.
Before COVID, our family chose to homeschool because I had this desire to teach and to learn about the interconnectedness of everything. Fortunately, our life circumstances are such that I have time to create and guide a home education experience. I know this isn’t the desire or reality for all parents, but it will be interesting to see how each family, each community, adapts and begins to create their new normals. Perhaps there will be more time spent outdoors, in nature. (It’s possible that a lack of outdoor time will bring us back to the importance of nature and it will become prioritized.) All I know for sure is that a renewal of education is underway.
“If our knowledge drew us close to the world in reverence and respect, if it made us realize that we are in the world and the world is in us, we would not wish to manipulate the world but to live in harmony with it and thus with ourselves.”Parker Palmer
An understanding of the interrelated quality of all of life—this is something that indigenous people have maintained for centuries.
My eighth grader and I will be studying U.S. History this year. We’ll be investigating the whole story of our country’s origin. And looking toward a future. Could partnership be the new story? Collaboration, not domination? If so, we have plenty to learn from individuals within the indigenous population.
The U.S. government once sent Indian children to boarding schools to “civilize” them. Well, what if it’s white people’s turn to learn from the Native Americans?
What if the new knowledge is ancient knowledge?
RESOURCES FOR TEACHING NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY:
- Use this map to locate local tribes near you. You can then google the tribe’s name; many have websites and educational outreach.
- Native 360, created by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, offers materials such as lesson plans, videos and primary sources, created in cooperation with tribes.
Once travel to these places is safe, you can take tours led by indigenous people:
- Visit the Ute Mountain reservation in Towaoc, Colorado
- Learn about the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana with Blackfeet Tours. Their tribal member guides share expertise in ancestral skills and traditional ecological knowledge.
- Visit the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary in Wyoming run by Native Americans
- Take a trip to the Lakota Tipi Camp and explore the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
If you’re looking for more ways to connect travel with education, sign up for the email list and receive the free guide, How to Connect Travel and Education.
Such a great perspective on education in this time of Covid. There is so much opportunity to come out of this with a New Better Normal approach to education. We just need to be willing to think beyond our old normal.
So true, Joy! Being willing to think beyond the old normal is necessary; it also requires us admitting the ways in which the old normal has been harmful.