Simon Fraser University
In today’s Canadian classrooms our students bring with them a rich array of cultural backgrounds and ways of viewing the world. Recently in British Columbia, the Ministry of Education introduced a New Curriculum initiative that requires teachers to find ways to integrate the history and worldview of Canada’s First Nations peoples into existing curriculum. Along with this directive, teachers are also asked to offer opportunities for reflection and expression of each student’s unique identity and cultural background. As an instructor of pre-service teachers in the fields of Art education and Literacy, a large part of my work is to help prepare them to meet this new demand. Consequently, inspired by the work of Vicki Kelly, an expert in the field of Aboriginal Education, I designed the Multiple Identities project. The purpose of this art and writing project is to model meaningful educational experiences while providing students with knowledge and understanding of First Peoples principles of learning. An additional purpose of the project is to provide the means for students to express and communicate their own unique ethnicity and lived experience while encouraging respectful inter-cultural dialogue and understanding among classmates. Based on evidence collected through qualitative inquiry based research, this paper will describe the “Multiple Identities” project and discuss its impact on students’ concepts of language, culture and education and possible implications for the classroom.
Identity, education, art and culture