Educational Change, New Pedagogies with FNMI Knowledge

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Educational change and implementation of new pedagogies is essential in this day in age. This change also needs to equally encompass FNMI values, perspectives, cultures and knowledge.

The fastest growing population in Canada is the FNMI population. The ever increasing population of FNMI youth needs to be equally recognized in Canadian schools. If we do not all take a serious look at how we can change education to equally include the voices of our FNMI students, then there will be serious impacts on every major system in Canada.

Canada, with a very serious and devastating history toward FNMI people. By understanding the history, and using strategies to connect, remember, and provide restitution and recognition, we can begin to attempt to address the inherent problems and inequities that have been created over the past several centuries.

What is the answer?

The answers are not, nor will ever be simple. One reason for this is due to the fact that we have embedded Eurocentric perspectives and voices in our curriculum that we take for granted because they have become so normalized that we do not think that there could be any other ways of doing things.


What if we divided up each curriculum into the 4 sections of the Medicine Wheel, and base all learning on the 4 directions or evolving points of view? I have a vision that we could help classrooms, school culture and community to be aware of rituals, ceremonies, and traditions.

Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge also has the ability to develop important skills, particularly in Science, and helping students to understand the Environment and also movements such as Idle No More.

Many FNMI cultures have valued the importance that you don’t interfere with one’s autonomy and their personal choices in life.

Discover ways in the Education system to allow young people to learn things for themselves, at their own pace, and following their own chosen ‘thought leaders’ etc.

Western cultures are all about speaking for other people. Pause times are filled with the words of others. And hierarchies are set up within our Education Systems, both explicitly, and implicitly regarding who has the ‘most knowledge’, ie., the teacher in the classroom. But if we truly adopt the strategies that we know are effective, including quiet contemplation, active listening, and truly provide for student voice, then we have a chance for greater success for all.

This is in contrast to knowledge as being personal, and based on your relationship with something. What people go through in life for example as worthy of deep respect and as something that

I believe that Knowledge building is about helping students to build and develop meaningful relationships for themselves.

We also need to recognize the dichotomies between Indigenous and Eurocentric Languages. Indigenous languages are also verb focussed. Doing and process are central to many FNMI cultures, and directly embedded within languages. However, European languages are noun based, and ‘things’ are central in our Eurocentric cultures.

The verbs have been taken away through colonialization and dominant cultures. Including our Curriculum and hierarchical Educational System. Verbs are always changing. Nothing is permanent. We need to make this a reality with regards to our teaching practice.

In our Literacy programs, we can respecting the ethic of autonomy, and providing a range of stories that are developmentally appropriate. Stories where students make mistakes, and learners can get out of it whatever they are ready for. Our classrooms filled with 25 students or more of the same age, does NOT mean that they are all ready for the same curriculum at the same time. Effective feedback will support this. This is in contrast to measuring students to standardized measures, respecting them for the knowledge they gain, when they are ready.

We are now finding ourselves in a position where we need to preserve Indigenous cultures through education, but we are being taught by non-indigenous teachers. We have to reach out, learn, and use the Seven Grandfather Teachings, particularly humility if we are all going to be able to work together to make equality for FNMI students a reality.

The following are additional ideas that I will organize into new blog posts:

  • Student voice, and true differentiation.
  • This means starting with the students, versus only using our own ideas from our own perspectives as educators.
  • Allow students to engage in inquiry. Directly instructing students about how to do things, and telling them how to behave is at odds with many embedded values of many FNMI cultures.
  • Allow students to co-create, or fully create the curriculum and assessment that will take place
  • Use technology as a tool to bridge communities, share voices
  • Ensure that FNMI voices have equal opportunities for knowledge to be shared in both physical and virtual environments, regardless of the number of students who may or may not have FNMI heritage in the learning environment
  • Begin to understand that FNMI perspectives, culture and history are equally important for ALL students, not just FNMI students
  • Recognize the stress experienced by FNMI students, and stress experienced within our education.
  • Provide opportunities for students to pick things up at their own paces and developmental readiness.
  • Adopt flexible pedagogies to allow for groups of students to learn the curriculum at different times and paces based readiness
  • Call upon community members to help teach and facilitate where knowledge is truly needed.
  • Provide choices to follow different community members and/or members on staff who demonstrate knowledge and skills that students are ready for.
  • Use Social Media to provide potential access to leaders and helpers. Skype. Twitter.


What Strategies or ideas do you have to share?

Deborah McCallum


© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



3 responses to “Educational Change, New Pedagogies with FNMI Knowledge”

  1. Reflections on Knowledge Building and Sharing in Education | Big Ideas in Education Avatar

    […] Inuit backgrounds to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge (IK) into my pedagogy and the curriculum. This knowledge is especially important in see themselves reflected in the pedagogy of the classroom to increase […]


  2. […] and deep learning are the very learning concepts and perspectives embedded across so many FNMI cultures and […]


  3. […] think that innovation is important for decolonizing our curriculum in addition to including First Nations, Metis, & Inuit perspectives in our curriculum. This will also vary depending upon the needs of the school […]


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