Illustration: Nazario Graziano/Colagene
In my adult learning class, I had groups of three or four students identify the most remarkable person in the school and present their choice to a panel of community members made up of the school principal, the teacher, a police officer and businesspeople.
The groups had to develop selection criteria and a work method, do a survey, compile nominations, carry out interviews and arrive at a consensus. To make matters a little more complicated, they had to discuss their choice without identifying him or her so as not to influence the panel.
The students couldn’t have been more engaged. Challenges that seemed overwhelming at first turned out to be real motivators. The students themselves were remarkable!
Sylvie Plante, OCT
Centre d’éducation des adultes in New Liskeard, ONT
By Stefan Dubowski
Here’s a way to boost your inquiry know-how and bring perspectives from Canada’s Indigenous cultures into your lessons. Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition is a guide designed to help you spark big questions among your students. This is the updated version of the program published by the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS) Laboratory School at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)/University of Toronto. Originally a program to bring inquiry to environmental education, the new edition introduces Indigenous perspectives to the process, responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action for educators to help students understand and respect First Nations.
This new version puts the Indigenous point of view at the heart of the program. It delves into four different branches of the inquiry process (inquiry and engagement, experiential learning, integrated learning and sustainability), providing both the JICS and the Indigenous perspectives for each one, and gives you and your students a new way to approach learning across a range of subjects. The guide also provides plenty of examples and stories from teachers who already incorporate inquiry in their classrooms across Ontario. You’ll find tools and activities designed to support students’ developing awareness of ecological and social justice issues as well.
The book’s creators point out that while teaching students about First Nations is important, it’s even more important to give young learners appreciation for the way different Indigenous cultures think about the world, as a stepping stone to respect. As the book’s authors write, “The greatest opportunities lie beyond cross-cultural awareness of issues and content, and involve profound challenges to how we learn, and how we live.”
Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition is available for purchase via the organization’s website, naturalcuriosity.ca.