UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(E)merging pedagogies : exploring the integration of traditional Aboriginal and contemporary Euro-Canadian teaching practices Davidson, Sara Florence


It has been argued that contemporary Euro-Canadian teaching practices conflict with traditional Aboriginal teaching practices resulting in the current widespread lack of academic achievement for many Aboriginal students. Of particular concern is the area of print literacy, as achievement in this area has been linked to academic success. This is an area where Aboriginal students in British Columbia score well below their non-Aboriginal counterparts on tests such as the Foundation Skills Assessment. By reviewing traditional Aboriginal ways of transmitting knowledge, it is possible to understand the reason why contemporary Euro-Canadian teaching practices may be inappropriate for Aboriginal students. Drawing on Delpit’s ‘codes of power’ and educational interpretations of Bakhtin’s literary theory, I explore the notion that it is possible for Aboriginal students to be academically successful within the Euro-Canadian system while retaining their traditional Aboriginal identity and ways of knowing. Findings from this exploratory case study, which occurred at a secondary school in a remote Aboriginal community in northern British Columbia, are shared. Interviews with six Aboriginal adolescent students and three non-Aboriginal teachers, as well as personal reflections are also considered. By reexamining the assumptions and beliefs about contemporary Euro-Canadian teaching practices and seeking to learn more about traditional Aboriginal teaching practices, it is anticipated that educators can integrate the strengths of both approaches into their teaching. It is believed that this will enhance success for Aboriginal students in both Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian contexts.

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