Touching spirits : story and relationship in an aboriginal teacher education program
Sherwin-Shields, Sandra Emma
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This study is a description of the meanings pre-service teachers and their instructor (myself) gain in the experience of learning to teach in an Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP). Using stories of teaching, oral and written, we searched together for the essence of teaching in a journey of selfawareness and a journey of discovering what it means to be human. We storied, restoried and reflected on our experiences as we lived our lives and made new meanings about who we are and who we want to be as teachers. In this research project, I present stories given to me by my nine participants (third-year/pre-intern students) in their teaching autobiographies and and our oral storytelling sessions. To describe the knowledge I gained in receiving my students' stories, I combined their individual stories into collective narratives. I lived and relived my students' experiences, as told to me through story, and wrote their stories as collective narratives to represent the collective knowledge we gained as a community. The collective narratives are not meant to romanticize the lives of my students. Theirs are not lives without conflict. I know my students as unique individuals with many different experiences. The collective narratives are descriptions of their collective knowledge as told through story. Storytelling honours the ways of Aboriginal learning. The design of this study was influenced by the belief that all learning begins and ends with the spirit. I honour this tradition by using Cajete's visioning cycle (Look to the mountain: An ecology of Indigenous education, 1994) as my pathway. Each chapter, one through nine, follows this cycle which begins and ends with a vision, the centering place where the "soul of the dream" is honoured. The visioning cycle is an inward journey and each stage is a step towards learning what it means to be human and the importance of relationship to self, others and the world. Cajete's visioning cycle allowed me to be passionate about my learning, to make meaning through my heart and my mind, to respect the spirit that moves us and to honour and respect the ways of knowing of the people I teach and learn from. In this research, I find a new value for story in teacher education. Through the telling of personal stories of experience, student teachers and their instructors negotiate for new meanings of what it means to teach and new meanings of the qualities they hope to possess as teachers. Nel Noddings, in her research, discusses the power and importance of "relationship" to self and to others. We are who we are in our relations with others. In a journey of selfawareness and in the giving and receiving of stories as pedagogy in teacher training, the importance of compassion, humility, courage, hope and love has new meaning. You, the reader, will bring different experiences and new meanings as you read this research story. Like my students and me, you will create a new collective story.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeWard, Angela; Robinson, Sam; Bouvier, Rita
aboriginal teacher education