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Let's Talk About Education!


Let's Talk About Education!

Sara General

I have many passions. Art and writing are two of the biggest ones. But I also care a lot, a ton actually, about education.  I care about education for the same reasons that most people do.  I also care about it because I realize that some things about education in our community could change for the better and because there have been (and still are) unhealthy external impacts on our education system and schools. I want our learners to have the best educational experience that we can provide and I want to be apart of building on and improving what we have.   And I know I’m not alone in this.

Recently, I’ve been having education discussions in so many different places (classrooms, kitchen tables, hallways, grocery stores, conferences) with other people who were as passionate as I was, that I decided I wanted to let a part of my blog be solely about exploring the possibilities in education.  I also wanted a space to celebrate some of the awesome teaching/learning stories that are taking place despite the wretched policy and funding frameworks that apply to First Nation schools.

I know a lot of people, educators, parents and kids who have something to say about education in our community but don’t know where to say it or where to go for current information about education. For instance, many teachers or community members I have talked to have not heard about the First Nations Education Act and had questions about it or about who the government purportedly consulted with in the design of it.  I offer the comment section of this blog as one place to contemplate, share ideas and ask questions.  I offer the blogs themselves as snapshots of as much information as I can find about current happenings on education.   I realize we all have different viewpoints and ideas to share - we aren’t always going to agree and that’s totally okay. All I ask is that if you choose to communicate here, please communicate with one another kindly, respectfully and peacefully.  No bullying please.   Other than that, welcome! I hope you find something of interest in these posts and can bear with me as I go along – this is a new adventure for me and it’s absolutely possible I’ll make some wrong turns and become tangled in thickets of thought.

In case you were wondering, I thought I would include this right from the outset. It’s a tiny list that shows how I’m absolutely not an expert but nonetheless explains a bit about who am I and where am I going to be coming from.

  • Turtle Clan, Mohawk
  • A sister, a daughter, an auntie
  • A writer
  • An artist
  • A community member
  • A graduate student
  • A teacher
  • A program writer
  • A policy analyst
  • A researcher
  • A language advocate
  • A language learner
  • A person who believes everyone has a spirit, a gift and a purpose
  • A person who believes that Indigenous Peoples are awesome

So that’s me.  Let’s dig in!

Like many First Nation communities across Turtle Island, Six Nations is dealing with the FNEA, a draft legislation concerning First Nations education.  I’ve personally written about the history of this legislation at length here however, the Ontario Native Education Counselling Association has good resources and background on the legislation on their website. Although the legislation is one of the factors driving the discussion about education in our community, it isn’t the only one and we’re not alone in having it.  There are movements happening in education all across the world, where people are asking questions about why education looks the way it does, what it could look like in the future and how to make it better.    It’s a big, huge conversation that I look forward to getting into.

Originally, for my next post (I plan to post every Wednesday), I had planned to talk about funding issues and how/why I plan to separate those issues from the discussion of education.   But instead, I am going to begin by writing about the gaps that are often mentioned when it comes to First Nations schools.  You know the ones I’m talking about - the ‘achievement gap’ and the ‘education gap’.   I believe that the impressions these labels create about our students and our schools are incredibly misleading and I’d like to share why I think that.  So instead of talking about funding, I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about a different kind of gap - a knowledge gap and how I feel the knowledge gaps further cements concepts like ‘achievement gaps’ which are built on principles that are not helpful to anyone, not just Indigenous students, but teachers and learners everywhere.