Rationale for Restorative Education: Synthesizing Theory and Practices to Decolonize Learning
This artifact is the most complete draft of my Educ 798 Masters of Education project proposal. The proposal is the best evidence of my culminating understanding of the educational theory that informs my practice, both my own theory and how my work is built upon the theoretical knowledge put forward by my literary “ancestors” (Montuori, 2005).
In creating this artifact, this proposal, I had the opportunity to put together all of the work I have done on previous assignments, courses, and jobs to finally formulate my own theory of Restorative Education in its most complete form, to date. I worked every day this past summer break to pull together all the pieces to articulate a settler ally’s inclusive, place-based approach to decolonize and synthesize teaching practices to help close the Aboriginal Educational Achievement Gap. It is a synthesis of my understanding of how western and Indigenous theories of learning actually complement and can be integrated with each other. Inclusive education theories of RtI, UDL and DI can actually complement Indigenous Theory’s focus on learner-centered education, and constructivist theories emphasizing Vygotsky’s ZPD and Piaget’s understanding of the leaner as a “scientist” are not incompatible with the relevant and hands-on learning required in many Indigenous pedagogies.
A highlight of this artifact is in Part One, which demonstrates my nuanced understanding of how to go about offering a territorial acknowledgement in academic work and my growth as a culturally-sensitive academic who can place the needs of my community ahead of my own research interests. When compared to my earlier proposals for research on a thesis, I can see how many steps I have taken in the past year– not backwards, but in a full circle of communication, listening and reflection on what is my work, my knowledge, my intellectual property, and what is that of others, and is not mine to “explore” or “discover,” let alone publish.
I wish I had the time, energy and support to follow through on this proposal and complete this project, but part of what I have learned as a master’s student is that a master’s project is not and cannot be one’s life work. Finishing my degree is more important at this moment in time so that I can focus on implementing and testing my theory of RE in my classroom, in my school and as a parent. I can and will still work on this project, and I will publish it eventually, hopefully in a form that will be really useful to other educators. Perhaps this portfolio may be the most useful form of all, as through it I can share my work with First Nations ‘gatekeepers’ so that together we can co-create future projects. It also reveals the journey I have been on and may perhaps make others’ paths easier to tread. For example, when I was asked to speak on a panel for a new research institute last month, my colleagues found my insights on how to (or not to) work with First Nations communities invaluable. With this artifact in this portfolio, I can now direct people with follow up questions to a more detailed example of my learning than I could ever present in full, in person.
This artifact is critical to include as a representation of my understanding of educational theory because in it I have shown a way to begin walking the tightrope of not divulging cultural knowledge or practices that are sacred and private to the First Nations I work with but it does consider and include Indigenous theories, pedagogies and ways of knowing in its very design.
This artifact offers a timely way to create an inclusive environment that provides the space for First Nations knowledge keepers and learners to feel comfortable engaging and contributing to our shared learning. It is the first step to articulating a new theory that synthesizes the best parts of many helpful theories in special education and applies them in a timely fashion to a current problem that settler teachers face: how to implement the new curriculum of including Indigenous world views and perspectives without appropriating or homogenizing Indigenous cultural practices.