Making Meaning Makes Me

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Meaning Maker Making Meaning

Listen to the author reading this blog post.

I am what I make! I make sounds, movement, shapes, text, and things. I am a shaper and maker, tinkerer and creator in the physical space where I exist and in the digital space where I engage with ideas, images, and others. I am shaped by my relationships with these processes and products. I learn by doing IT! When I cook or garden, things are shaped by my actions. I become shaped by the things I create. When I teach, I am shaped by the actions and relationships with content and others. This, in turn, shapes my teaching self.  MacLuhan, Piaget, Papert, Friere and Vygotsky all have a place in my making and learning.

image of elements within learning environments

Frierian Learning Environments

As I conceptualize Frierian learning environments for the final week of my Hybrid Pedagogy and #moocmooc experiences, I become more comfortable with notions of educational emancipation and critical pedagogy. At the same time, I am less comfortable in my perceived role as agent of change. A vision where academic disciplines develop an inclusive understanding that is the basis for authentic dialogue with indigenous knowledge (Blikstein, pg. 6) resonates with my underlying beliefs about schooling and learning. The recognition of valid learning occurring within the world and of the world needs to be acknowledged. It’s a reciprocal relationship between academia and real world learning. Having a foot within both worlds (schools and higher education) makes me a prime example of practitioner as academic, or is that academic as practitioner.

But this is not enough. The models and case studies shared by Blikstein bring forth a call to action for the integration of indigenous wisdom into closer relationship with academic knowledge. To humanize and empower learners in my own local contexts, but also at all levels of global educational endeavours, requires me, the academic, to make and be re-made by the generative themes in my local communities. With my own academic environment leading the way in teaching & learning with/from indigenous people, I look toward my own work in academia and the disconnect with local indigenous communities. With the focus of my own course in Media and Digital Literacy, how can this empower and humanize the indigenous heritage of oral storytelling? Where are the opportunities to bring academics into relationship with local ‘ways of knowing’?

Blikstein reminds me that I need to “focus on the role of technology in such initiatives, as an emancipatory tool for mobilizing change in schools and empowering students” (pg. 2). By permeating the microcosm of digital storytelling and working through the “microscopic choices of what to teach and what to value, who has voice, who ultimately decides” (pg. 25) a rich and relevant learning environment can be created. Through the experience of digital stories from the rich roots and oral traditions of indigenous storytelling and blending this into the academic realm of knowledge building networks, there is a way to realize the Frierian learning environment. In this way, my course work and teaching can build links between traditional curriculum and indigenous expertise (Blikstein, pg. 24)

image for making digital storiesLevering digital technologies as an agent of change can happen with digital storytelling because of it’s ‘chameleoneque adaptivity’, the unique variety of resources, the complexity of the projects, the mobility of content and products, and the multiple entry points (Blikstein, pg. 22). This brings me back to where I started. Through my own work in digital storytelling, I am transformed. By engaging in digital storytelling within teaching and learning environments, I become a change agent. I call others to action. I make a space for change of self and story, within learning communities. So, I end with a call for your actions to tell your stories of indigenous knowledge. Where do you share and make change happen, in dialogue, when sharing your stories?

References

Blikstein, P. (n.d.). Travels in Troy with Friere: Technology as an agent of emancipation. Retrieved from http://www.blikstein.com/paulo/documents/books/Blikstein-TravelsInTroyWithFreire.pdf

CBC News. (Feb. 20, 2015). Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. to mandate indigenous learning. [web page] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/lakehead-university-in-thunder-bay-ont-to-mandate-indigenous-learning-1.2963546

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