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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning models in the Umeek narratives : identifying an educational framework through storywork with First Nations elders Atleo, Marlene R.


This study uses First Nations storywork to investigate indigenous learning. If cultural strategies were persistent and fundamental to the survival of a people, it would seem that understanding Nuu-chah-nulth learning orientations would provide emancipatory insight for First Nations learning in contemporary educational settings. Understanding what was and what is allows an envisioning of what could be. Therefore narratives about Umeek, the "community provider", the archetypal "go-getter", were read as a conceptual framework in which to identify learning orientations of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. The investigation had three foci. First, a protocol for First Nations cultural work was formulated and elaborated. This protocol was used as an overarching framework for the gathering of the stories, the interview process and the narrative analysis. Second, ethnographic and oral versions of Umeek narratives were gathered. Third, these narratives were read Nuu-chah-nulth elders cultural beliefs about learning for past and present success in a Nuu-chah-nulth life career (i.e. providing/achieving). Narrative deconstruction and metaphorical mapping served to identify and describe aspects of learning salient in the teachings of Umeek narratives. A full complex of learning archetypes emerged balancing innovation and conservation in an economy of change. Eight archetypal learning models were identified: the innovative transformational learner, the collaborative transformational learner, the directed lineage learner, the developmental learner, the cooperative learner, the resistant observational learner, the collaborative resistant learner, and the opportunistic observational learner. Themes which emerged central to Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations learning ideology and knowledge construction were: grandparents provided the foundation of learning, oosumch (ritual bathing) provided motivational management, partnerships permitted collaboration, ancestor names provided orientation and sacred sites provided frames for experiences. Nuu-chah-nulth learning theory was articulated in a storywork framework that provided insight into Nim-chah-nulth pedagogy: hence, it needs to be understood in the context of Nim-chah-nulth education. First Nations educational theory and learning models that are operating in communities need to be understood in the context of current education. Western schooling may not satisfy Nuuchah- nulth learning needs for transformation and strategic knowledge. Storywork is important in de-colonizing First Nations sensibilities in the process of self-determination in education, counseling, life career development, and healing.

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