There’s a story that’s been circulating for too long in our country. It goes something like this: yes, empire-building and colonial rule did a lot of damage, but that was all long ago; over and done with. The problem is, it’s not over. The legacy of colonial attitudes, world views, and institutional structures lingers on.
For this edition of Education Canada, we are proud to partner with Memorial University to present a series of nine articles on Decolonizing Professional Learning, inspired by a gathering of researchers and educators committed to this work that took place in the summer of 2022. In this series, the authors share the decolonizing and reconciliation work they are doing and propose some promising approaches – from “two-eared” (deep, intentional, and non-judgmental) listening to education change networks – that merit more widespread adoption.
While working on this edition, we grappled with how to tackle the systemic racism that unfolds in our school districts every day. We know that colonialist practices are difficult to discern if they are all you’ve ever experienced – so how can educators know what they don’t know? Decolonization is partly about learning to see the harmful assumptions behind and impacts of what we have believed to be the only way or “common sense.” We must make spaces where we can have the “Hard Conversations” (see “The Urban Communities Cohort,” by Linda Radford and Ruth Kane) and challenge our own thinking, so that we can make our education systems more inclusive. Above all, we must listen to racialized educators and students and learn from their lived experiences.
This edition of Education Canada is a beginning – a challenge for us all to reflect upon what’s happening in our schools and classrooms for students and staff who are Indigenous, Black or People of Colour. If you are new to these ideas, you might start with our introductory article, “Decolonizing Professional Learning: Gathering together for educational change,” which includes some definitions of frequently used terms.
In one of those serendipitous moments, I recently received a review copy of Wayi Wah! Indigenous Pedagogies: An act for Reconciliation and anti-racist education, by Jo Chrona (Portage & Main, 2022). If the articles you read here excite, inspire, or call you to action and you want to learn more, this book is a great next step (specifically for an Indigenous focus). With a compassionate and plain-spoken voice, the author walks us through chapters on the role of educators in reconciliation and decolonization, Indigenous education and Indigenous-informed pedagogy, understanding systemic racism, and more. Every chapter includes questions for reflections, ways to take action, and resources for further learning and classroom use.
Finally, don’t forget that we now have companion podcasts! For this edition, host Stephen Hurley of voicEd Radio has produced a series of podcast conversations with individual authors. You can listen to them, and read all nine articles, here: www.edcan.ca/magazine/decolonizing-professional-learning.
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First published in Education Canada, January 2023