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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards caring : the role of place-based learning in a secondary school English First Peoples class Price, Sara


This research examines the current challenges of teaching a First Peoples English course using place-based pedagogy, and the benefits of incorporating place-based learning despite these challenges, through a qualitative study in the teacher-researcher's English 10/11/12 First Peoples class at Howe Sound Secondary School. The research draws on evidence from observations and journaling of the teacher-researcher, samples of student work, and student responses to short answer questions in order to address the over-arching research question, What stories of learning have I identified regarding a First Peoples English course that makes use of place-based methodologies? This question is broken down into two others: What challenges exist in introducing place- based learning at Howe Sound Secondary School, and, if possible, how may these challenges be overcome? and, What are the benefits of conjoining place-based learning and a course focused on Indigenous perspectives? The primary purpose of this study is to determine how to incorporate a place-based education in a traditional secondary school setting, and what are the benefits for students. The results of this study indicate that it is possible to overcome some barriers to place-based learning, and that the benefits to students make it worthwhile to do so when possible. The findings indicate that offering a place-based, student-centered approach and connecting to local landscape and community contribute to increased student engagement with, effort in, and enjoyment of the course. They also indicate that place-based strategies can successfully facilitate connections with individuals from the local Indigenous community, contributing to greater understanding of the history and people of the place, and a possible breakdown of prejudice. The evidence also indicates that incorporating discussions of hegemonic educational models alongside local and non-local Indigenous ways of learning, including learning from place, also contributes to understanding of other cultures. Some place-based activities also encouraged family and cultural connection and lead to feelings of pride in Indigenous students. The study concludes with suggestions for future practice.

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