The Notion of Unlearning

The other day, in a conversation with my classmate Jason, the term unlearning came up. I was intrigued by this term as I have always thought about learning since I am pursuing a career as an educator. The idea of unlearning sparked my interest because I started to think about having a wrong view or maybe a misinformed view about a topic. Later on in the day, as I attended a small smudging ceremony for class, this term was brought up again. Unlearning was directly related to the idea of learning ‘Canadian’ history in school and how many people have missed learning about treaties, treaty promises and the impact of treaties.

An introduction to this term provoked a thought in my mind that I need to reconsider my previous teaching about history in this country. Furthermore, I require a reflective lens about history when I am discussing it as this will ensure that I include all aspects of the history of this land.

The main reason I am divulging into the term unlearning is due to the fact that, through personal reflections, I have come to understand that our euro-western worldview has taught us history and ‘facts’ that are based on one side of the story. This settler story, holds great prejudice against indigenous peoples and lacks the complexity of these past issues. These “Canadian” historical stories show the depiction of Indigenous peoples as those who were in need of saving and “civilizing”.  Through my University journey, I realize that this is not the case and that in fact Indigenous people way of life before colonization and contact was complex, complete and meaningful.

I am fortunate to be a part of the Anti-Bias and Anti-Oppressive education program at the University of Regina which focuses on ensuring that all students and staff feel safe, respect and represented in their daily lives. This education degree has helped to open my eyes to the injustices that have occurred in the past and to do my part to “unlearning” the past and learn it from multiple perspectives so that I can better education my students some day. With this reflective view, my future students will hopefully not have to take this same “unsettling” journey as I because it will be a part of their lives growing up. This semester, I am challenging myself to have a reflective lens when I am analyzing the world around me.

For now, I leave you with this: My hope for this semester, is that I will have many moments when I have the opportunity to “unlearn” the colonial past and customs and take time to educate myself with multiple perspectives instead of having tunnel vision.

Until next time,

Jenna

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