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Embodying an Indigenous Stance

Our intention with TI resonates with two important thinkers in the educational arena. First is environmental educator David Orr (1994/2004), who poses the simple question, “What is education for?” (p. 7).

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more "successful" people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it. (Orr, 1994/2004, p. 4)

Building on this important query, indigenous science educator Gregory Cajete (2009) suggests there are really only three questions teachers need ask:

  • How do we solve the environmental issues on the planet?
  • How do we learn to get along with each other?
  • How do we care for our own souls?

The TI process seeks to find a viability of place, community and self by using these questions as navigational stars from which we orient ourselves as educators. This is a conscious decolonizing process that disrupts the common industrialized and consumerist models of education. Instead, we are seeking sustainable ways that nurture and promote holistic health and wellness.

The TI approach resonates with an indigenous worldview in many ways and provides a way for you to move into deeper connectivity with Earth, community, and your own inner direction as a learner. For example, the TI journey asks you to place a relational accountability at the centre of your teaching practice. You will animate your own learning spirit, and you will be asked to attend to the needs of Earth at a deeper and more nuanced level than you might be used to. Ways of addressing Cajete’s questions are woven throughout this iBook. We take on a cyclical, indigenous pedagogy as they return repeatedly in different forms. Hence, TI leads many to take on what Shawn Wilson (2007) calls, an indigenist approach. Just like a man can be a feminist, anyone reading these words could be~come indigenist.

An indigenist approach roots TI with an intentional purpose for education that asks us to live well and care for others, the planet, and ourselves. Hence, any form of education requires commitment to engaging with the places, people and inner lives that nourish and support us. The ecological communities in which we live can be considered to be a teacher. We need to learn to be more respectful, limit damage and celebrate our communal sense of place.