Looking back on my high school experience, I certainly feel aged when reflecting on the differences between now and then. Beginning high school in September of 1994 without any concept of “www” is a definitive difference. With this, the notion of being a self-directed learner was not part of the common educational vernacular as information and knowledge was shared and very much owned by teachers and confined to classrooms. Equally, textbooks constructed information and knowledge from a particular point of view all while the classroom was singular in it’s approach. That was then and this is now.
Today, schooling is very much about nurturing young people to be autonomous learners who can learn, unleaarn and relearn in class and importantly beyond. As noted by Utech and Keller in their essay Becoming Relevant Again: Applying Connectivism Learning Theory to Today’s Classrooms, “knowledge therefore is not a set of facts but rather a learner’s ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn information quickly and be able to apply that new knowledge in an ever-changing information landscape.” They continue to share that “learning is the ability to discover something unknown. Unlearning involves critically analyzing and in some cases rejecting information or beliefs once held to be true in the presence of new information. Finally, relearning is the arriving at a new understanding, sometimes replacing perspectives that were once expected or believed from past experiences” (Utech & Keller, 2019).
It wasn’t until I was in post-secondary that I began my journey as a deep learner. I realized that in high school, my ability to discover the unknown wasn’t deeply nurtured. This is not a criticism but rather a reflection of the times. Nonetheless, there were many unknowns that would have made schooling so much more relevant over twenty-years ago.
Specifically, when thinking about Canada, our shared history continues to become fully seen. The learning of our nation’s history today is much different than yesterday. Bombastically, my teenage self had no knowledge of Residential Schools, The Indian Act or Treaties. I’m still rattled by the thought that the last Canadian Indian Residential School closed in 1996. I was going to school as a 15 year-old thinking about what the cafeteria was serving and which movie to rent on VHS, all while today’s traumatic history was happening in my real time. I didn’t know. I didn’t know Canada fully.
This reminds me of why Treaties Recognition Week is so important.
In a world where information is everywhere, the ability to learn, unlearrn and relarn mustn’t be taken for granted. The potential of connecting with authentic voices, understanding story and fully seeing comes when we think critically, reframe and embrace knowledge as ever-evolving.
Thus, we are all called to be life-long learners and Responsible Citizens. As it pertains to Canada’s history of cultural genocide including the role of the Catholic Church, we’re all called to learn, unlearn and relearn while owning our past and moving forward with a commitment to truth and reconciliation. It’s not about guilt but moving forward with a call to learn and serve.
So, as all of Canada continues on the journey of Truth and Reconciliation, take the time this week to create new learning and discover why Treaties Recognition Week matters.