A new year brings with it an opportunity for a fresh start. We can wipe the slate clean, turn over a new leaf, and make resolutions (that we will hopefully keep). For Learning Bird, 2018 begins with a makeover, a new look that places the spotlight on educational content created in collaboration with Indigenous communities.
As you may already know, Learning Bird works with Indigenous schools and communities across Canada to create culturally-relevant content for students in grades 6-12. We collaborate with schools to create content that reflects each community’s unique culture, history, and language while meeting the needs of their curriculum.
Moving into 2018, Learning Bird has started a process of change to best serve its partner schools and help meet the needs of the teachers and students we support.
The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives
According to the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, reforming education and decolonizing curriculum is pivotal to working towards reconciliation. The Report stresses the importance of an Indigenous perspective in education, stating that, for too long, the narratives present in educational textbooks focused on the Eurocentric narratives and histories of the colonizer.
“Although textbooks have become more inclusive of Aboriginal perspectives over the past three decades, the role of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history during much of the twentieth century remains invisible.” – Education for Reconciliation, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 119
The changes that have been made to the Learning Bird platform place Indigenous communities front and center, highlighting their narratives, and amplifying their voices. It is our hope that by working in collaboration with our partners, we can continue to move towards reconciliation and promote Indigenous perspectives in education.
New Features: Connecting Communities
Every time I visit a school and meet with its staff, teachers express curiosity about the content coming out of other schools/communities. Teachers, especially when they are in more remote locations, are interested in what others are creating. They are interested in the varied experiences of other communities and eager to learn about how those communities are dealing with issues such as language and culture preservation, aligning learning experiences to provincial curriculum, and addressing challenges within their community.
The new Communities section is a way to quickly search for content that has been made in collaboration with a partner community. The goal here is not only to showcase the work of our partners but to facilitate the sharing of knowledge across the country, with communities learning from and about each other.
New Features: Focus on Language Resources
Language and cultural identity go hand in hand. Without language, one can easily become disconnected and disassociated from one’s distinct cultural identity and heritage. If young people are to be the torch-bearers and ambassadors of their local traditions and culture then language will be essential for this task.
“…language is necessary to define and maintain a worldview. For this reason, some First Nation elders to this day will say that knowing or learning the native language is basic to any deep understanding of a First Nation way of life, to being a First Nation person. For them, a First Nation world is quite simply not possible without its own language.” – Assembly of First Nations, Breaking the Silence, 25-26
The effort to strengthen Indigenous languages is an effort to preserve and strengthen Indigenous culture. Young people need the tools to interact with the knowledge, the stories, and the art of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in their communities. Without language to act as a bridge, a wealth of knowledge and tradition risks being lost.
The platform update includes a section for Indigenous languages, organizing all language learning content in one place, allowing teachers and students to quickly access lessons.
New Features: A More Refined Search
Changes have been made to streamline and refine searches. You can now filter searches by community and format. Looking for a video created in collaboration with Manitoba’s Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation or a math worksheet coming out of British Columbia’s Lil’wat Nation? You can now filter your results to find the ideal lesson.
A Word of Thanks
These improvements would not have been possible without user feedback and participation. Every time we travel to a school and speak with their teachers, we ask for feedback on the user experience. We have listened to your feedback and implemented changes that will make searching for content a smoother experience. We hope that the process of searching for culturally-relevant content is easier and more accessible.
If you have any questions about the new features, or about anything else, feel free to contact your Education Account Lead or Learning Bird Support at firstname.lastname@example.org.