The following is an excerpt from Pulling Together: A Guide for Teachers and Instructors by Bruce Allan, Amy Perreault, John Chenoweth, Dianne Biin, Sharon Hobenshield, Todd Ormiston, Shirley Anne Hardman, Louise Lacerte, Lucas Wright, and Justin Wilson.
The education system that many of us have been a part of and participated in has created a rewards system for knowing the right answer and being the expert. As Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators begin to collaborate and build spaces for decolonizing and Indigenizing content, practice, and perspectives, an important core competency is humility. The work of Indigenizing post-secondary education requires accepting that there are ways of holding and sharing knowledge and learning and engaging all parts of the human being (spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical), thus moving beyond seeking a singular right answer. The complexity of Indigenization is realizing that there are multiple truths and no single clear answer; so as educators, we need to trust the unlearning and relearning process and be humble while engaging in the process.
We invite you in as a learner, and in doing so we ask you to walk lightly. By walking lightly, you are not only aware of yourself in this learning process, but you are aware of others as well. Here are some ways that you can bring humility into your practice:
- Ask your questions with the understanding that some of the work required to answer them is yours.
- Ask whose truths are valued and represented in your curriculum and discipline, what counts as knowledge, and why this is.
- Be aware of the space you take and the space you give. “Make space, take space” (Janey Lew, personal communication, 2017) entails giving yourself time to explore and appreciate Indigenous worldviews and taking the time to understand and disrupt beliefs and misconceptions.
Professional humility is being aware that we cannot know everything. It opens up our minds and hearts to accepting other ways of doing, knowing, and being so that we naturally create a shared learning space.
A Guide for Teachers and Instructors is part of an open professional learning series developed for staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. These guides are intended to support the systemic change occurring across post-secondary institutions through Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation.