Pedagogy as gift: contextual views from Scotland and Canada

Paul Adams, Aubrey Hanson, Patricia Danyluk, Amy Burns

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The purpose of this symposium is to bring together those who are interested in considering an alternative conception for pedagogy steeped in northern, Indigenous ways of knowing that promote equity, inclusion, and the importance of contextual factors in the enactment of pedagogy. To this end, this symposium session brings together four academics, beginning with an expansive discussion of pedagogy as gift and then narrowing this to the enactment of pedagogy for and with remote populations. The symposium then presents a discussion of pedagogy situated within the Canadian context with a focus on story-based approaches that connect Indigenous pedagogies with contemporary contexts. Finally, the impact of leadership on expanding such discussions of pedagogy is examined.

The symposium starts from the belief that pedagogy is best conceptualised as 'being in and acting on the world, with and for others'. From here, each presentation considers politicized ways of knowing ways for their impact on contemporary educational contexts.

Pedagogy as gifting: Indigenous knowing in contemporary education – Dr Paul Adams
In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013) discusses how strawberry gathering signals '... a world full of gifts simply scattered at your feet' (p. 23). For her, such conceptualisations necessitate togetherness; gifts, '…from the earth or from each other establish a particular relationship, an obligation of sorts to give, to receive, and to reciprocate' (25). Clearly, here the marker of reciprocity and personal connection is through the removal of exchange as transaction to be replaced by gifting; that which establishes a '…feeling bond between two people' (Hyde, quoted in Kimmerer, 2013: 26) that increases with their passage through and by sharing.

In this presentation, I shall contrast the idea of pedagogy as 'the methods and practices of teaching' (after Adams, 2022) a theoretical position based on personally held, teacher beliefs and ideologies often subject to neoliberal political positions, with pedagogy as gifting: connected, reciprocal actions based in and acting on the world, done with and for others. I shall show how re-thinking the basis for pedagogical action offers significant scope for enacting pedagogy in ways connected to community belief systems that seek to recalibrate the world and our place in it.

Keywords: pedagogy; gifting; Indigenous knowledge

Remote Pedagogy in Canada's North – Dr. Patricia Danyluk
The community-based pathway in our Bachelor of Education program was designed to develop teachers in rural and remote parts of Canada. The program has been a catalyst for the creation of teachers who already live in the community and are often mothers working as educational assistants. As Indigenous peoples make a significant portion of Canada's remote population, the program is anti-racist in design, seeking to provide rural and remote residents with the opportunity to complete their teacher education without relocating to an urban environment. Teachers and teacher education programs in Canada are tasked with incorporating Indigenous perspectives into the classrooms. Anti-racism theory is devoid of acknowledgement of racism towards Indigenous peoples and instead focuses on a multi-cultural perspective which fails to recognize that Indigenous peoples were the original inhabitants of Canada. Undertaking a critical race theoretical perspective, this research examines how teacher education programs and schools are integrating Indigenous perspectives into their classrooms and how they can work together to combat anti-Indigenous racism. Findings demonstrate the ways in faculty and teachers have led this work through personal decolonization and developing connections with Indigenous Elders and communities. At the same time, teachers report a fear of making mistakes and offending someone. This research examines how teacher education programs, teachers and schools can work together to combat anti -Indigenous racism in Canada.

Keywords: Remote education; Critical Race Theory; community; pedagogy

Building Understandings of Indigenous Pedagogies through Story – Dr. Aubrey J. Hanson
In this session, I will explore questions that arise when we seek to bridge traditional Indigenous pedagogies and contemporary educational settings. As an Indigenous (Red River Métis) scholar in literary studies, curriculum studies, and studies in Indigenous education, I seek in this presentation to explore story as a conceptual and methodological framework that enables pedagogical continuity and innovation. In Canada, educators are required to build and apply knowledge of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, histories, and cultures in their teaching and learning practice. An additional layer of possibility exists when teachers can engage in Indigenous education practice through Indigenous pedagogies, such as storytelling, land-based learning, and intergenerational learning. However, complexities and struggles arise when teachers try to connect with or engage with Indigenous knowledge systems that are foreign to the non-Indigenous majority. In my current research and teaching I offer story as a way into this work. Story offers a framework for understanding relationality and ethical engagement; it builds connections between teachers and other pedagogies like land-based learning; and it honours the onto-epistemological roots of Indigenous knowledge systems. Approaching Indigenous education work through story also enables teachers to connect their labours to pressing contemporary concerns like issues of environment and of social justice, as story-based framing makes space for the articulation of relationships and responsibilities. While story-based work is already prevalent within the methodological literature in Indigenous scholarship, building stronger understandings of story for pedagogy and practice is of benefit to all educators.

Keywords: Indigenous education; story; knowledge traditions; pedagogy

Pedagogy Leadership for Change – Dr. Amy Burns
This presentation will chronicle my evolving experiences as a pedagogical leader, starting first in the public kindergarten to grade twelve school system and now as a formal leader in initial teacher education. Drawing upon my own doctoral research, my experiences as a kindergarten to grade twelve teacher and leader, and my work as a leader in the postsecondary environment, this presentation will examine the ways in which critical pedagogy, or a pedagogy of equity, is taken up in those very different environments. From a feminist lens, I will contrast three themes in particular that have become particularly pronounced for me in my time in the academy. The first of these themes, evolutionary pedagogy, will examine the impact of past experience on my conception of myself as a leader in the academy and on my role as a pedagogical leader. Secondly, pedagogy will be examined as an activist moment, one that challenged me in the early years of my career, both in K-12 and in postsecondary, and will be presented as one that still tends to frighten many, although (perhaps?) less so in the academic environment. Finally, my role as a pedagogical leader will be examined with respect to influences that have shaped me as a leader to this point including specific examples of pedagogical leadership that continue to push my thinking and partnerships that expand my standpoint.

Keywords: educational leadership; critical pedagogy; pedagogy leadership; activism
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023
EventSERA Conference 2023: Meeting global and local challenges through interdisciplinary partnerships and collaborations in education - Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Nov 202325 Nov 2023


ConferenceSERA Conference 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • pedagogy
  • gifting
  • indigenous knowledge


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