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Indigenous Notions of Interconnection and Formation by the World  

Carl Mika

In various ways, the notion of interconnection between all things takes on importance for all aspects of Indigenous life, and therefore, writers in the field of Indigenous education often allude to the priority of interconnection for teaching and learning. The theoretical lens on interconnection, in Indigenous writing, tends to fall into two camps: one, that the world is comprised of distinct entities that are nevertheless connected; and, the other, that one thing is constituted by the entire world. In both cases, Indigenous theories of interconnection can be contrasted with, and even galvanized by, Western rationality, which overwhelmingly tends to fragment things in the world from each other. Education itself for the Indigenous participant may then be more a reflection of the fact of all things—its constitution of the self and all other things—than simply a transmission of knowledge. In this sense, the problem of “education” for Indigenous peoples may not lie only in the fact that education is separated out from other disciplines in dominant Western practice, but also that its attitude towards the world, with its focus on the mind, and with the clarity that fragmented things bring, does not reflect interconnection. It is unlikely that dominant Western modes of education can fully incorporate the values and ethics of Indigenous interconnection. In both pre-tertiary and tertiary education, however, some advances towards holistic and interconnected approaches are possible. In pre-tertiary, a focus on the development of the rational mind (which, from an Indigenous perspective, sits unspoken at the base of Western education) can be moderated somewhat by looking to the human self as a culmination of the world (and vice versa); and, in tertiary education, participants may revise notions of ethics and proper writing to incorporate those things that exist beyond human knowledge.