The article by Restoule, Gruner, and Metatawabin titled “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” is a prime example of the importance of place as a thing of meaning rather than a designated space. The authors claim that reinhabitation and decolonization are the key aims to what they call “critical pedagogy of place” (Restoule, Gruner & Metatawabin, 2013). Examples of these aims are evident throughout the article in various ways. The river project done by various participants was perhaps the most significant example. By reconnecting people with the river, the project was able to catalyze many other forms of connection and coming together. It allowed for the youth and elders to recover some of the lost traditions and meanings that resulted from colonization. Seeing the river as a way of life and of culture for the Mushkegowuk people speaks to the importance of reinhabitation and decolonization. Through the project also, a gap was brought closer together thanks to the interactions of the Elders and the youth of the community. Creating conversations between the two groups and allowing them to re-establish some of the meaning and language that has been lost since colonization. All together it was a chance for them to recover some of their identity that has been lost.
Identity is a large part of the English Language Arts curriculum in Saskatchewan and as a future ELA teacher, I can see many ways how this idea of place can be adapted into student learning. Students can explore pieces of literature from several different perspectives that explores place as an element of identity and the meaning behind it. More importantly, I can encourage students to explore place in their own life and as a part of their own identity through lesson and activities. Including other voices in the classroom, such as that of Elders that can speak to the importance of place as more than just space is another way to spark engagement with students. These are merely a few suggestions that could potentially be expanded into vast inquiries in my English Language Arts classroom.
Restoule, J, Gruner, S. & Metatawabin, E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education, 36 (2): 68-86.