Assessing Student Awareness of Indigenous Peoples Project

Assessing Student Awareness of Indigenous Peoples Project

Assessing Student Awareness of Indigenous Peoples Project

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Publications

Peer Reviewed Articles

An Indigenous woman and child dressed in ceremonial clothing a Powwow hosted at Queen's University. Schaefli, L., A. Godlewska, L. Korteweg, A. Coombs, L. Morcom, and J. Rose. (In press, 2018). What do first-year university students in Ontario, Canada know about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and topics? Canadian Journal of Education.

Abstract: We disseminated the Awareness Survey to the first-year cohorts at 10 Ontario universities in 2014. Co-designed with over 200 First Nations, Métis and Inuit educators and community members across Ontario, the survey investigated how students are learning to think about colonialism and its relationship to Indigenous peoples and Canadian society. Statistical analysis of 2,899 student responses reveals that first-year university students who graduated from Ontario high schools are substantially unaware of Indigenous presence and vitality. The majority of students do not understand the fundamental laws structuring conditions of life for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, nor the contributions Indigenous peoples make to all aspects of Canadian society. Although they know slightly more about what is happening with regard to Indigenous peoples today, students have little sense of the historical circumstances and forces that shape current events. Arguably, students are this ignorant because the Ontario K-12 curriculum, which remains deeply inadequate, is the primary source of information for most students. However, when students have opportunities to engage with Indigenous perspectives and topics, it can make a difference to what students know and think. These results indicate that curricular reform is key to eradicating mass ignorance but cannot occur in isolation. Teacher education programs must play a central role in enacting the promise of new curricular emphases.  


Schaefli, L., A. Godlewska, and C. Lamb (In press). Securing Indigenous dispossession through education: Regional strategies in Canada. Invited chapter in Springer knowledge and space series : Geographies of schooling: Ideologies, institutions and spatial planning (Vol. 14).


Schaefli, L., A. Godlewska, and J. Rose. (In second review). Coming to know Indigeneity: Epistemologies of ignorance in the 2003-2015 Ontario Canadian and World Studies curriculum. Curriculum Inquiry.

Abstract: This article investigates the portrayal of colonialism and Indigenous peoples in curricula and textbooks in Ontario, one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. The analysis is focused on the curricular documents and texts that constituted Ontario’s social studies and Canadian and World Studies stream between 2003 and 2015, which have informed the understanding of a generation of Ontarians. Drawing on recent work on epistemologies of ignorance, we demonstrate how segregation and past placement of Indigenous content, omission of Indigenous critical perspectives, philosophies and territories, denial of colonialism, and reinforcement of racialized hierarchies of being work to encourage a logic of relation premised on Indigenous disappearance. Although nine textbooks associated with the 2003-2015 Canadian and World studies curriculum were reviewed by First Nations and Métis educators, critical Indigenous perspectives are frequently undermined in the texts, through exclusion from chapter review questions, segregation of content, and imposition of settler voice. Although the Ministry of Education has created a new curriculum, the depth and perniciousness of epistemologies of ignorance requires sustained involvement of First Nations, Métis and Inuit educators at all levels of curricular and text design, with special attention to the training of teachers.


Godlewska, A., Schaefli, L., Massey, J., Freake, S., & Rose, J. (2017). Awareness of Aboriginal peoples in Newfoundland and Labrador: Memorial's first‐year students (2013) speak. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien, 61(4), 595-609. doi:10.1111/cag.12427

Abstract: As part of the Assessing Student Awareness of Indigenous Peoples survey of Newfoundland and Labrador and before exposing them to any Indigenous content, we asked first-year students at Memorial University the three most important things they knew about Aboriginal people. At the end of the survey we asked them another open-ended question: did they consider the test a valid measure of their knowledge, and why or why not. The responses to these two questions taught us a great deal about what students know and think. Overwhelmingly their thinking is marred by racism, stereotypes, and an inability to access language to express the specificity and diversity of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. In some cases, these views and attitudes are reinforced rather than dispelled in primary, middle, and secondary education. Despite a poor performance on the test, more than 78% of students considered the test a valid measure of their knowledge. Both the answers in the positive and negative are revealing of student attitudes about Aboriginal people and topics. 

Résumé: Comme partie intégrante de l’évaluation de la sensibilisation dans le cadre de l’enquête sur les peuples autochtones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador et avant de les exposer a tout contenu autochtone, nous avons demandé aux étudiants de première année de l’Université Memorial d’énoncer les trois choses les plus importantes qu’ils savaient au sujet des Autochtones. À la fin du sondage, nous leur avons posé une autre question ouverte : pensaient-ils que le test était une mesure valide de leurs connaissances et pourquoi. Les réponses à ces deux questions nous en ont beaucoup appris sur ce que les étudiants savent et pensent. Leur pensée est essentiellement entachée par le racisme, les stéréotypes et une incapacité à utiliser la langue pour exprimer la spécificité et la diversité des Autochtones au Canada. Dans certains cas, ces opinions et ces attitudes sont renforcées plutôt que dissipées durant les études élémentaires, intermédiaires et secondaires. Malgré les mauvais résultats obtenus sur le test, plus de 78 pour cent des étudiants estimaient que le test était une mesure valide de leurs connaissances. Les réponses tant positives que négatives sont révélatrices des attitudes des étudiants envers les Autochtones et les thèmes autochtones.


Godlewska, A., Schaefli, L., Massey, J., Freake, S., Adjei, J. K., Rose, J., & Hudson, C. (2017). What do first-year university students in Newfoundland and Labrador know about aboriginal peoples and topics?: Student knowledge of Aboriginal peoples. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien, 61(4), 579-594. doi:10.1111/cag.12428 

Abstract: This paper delivers the results from a quantitative analysis of the Assessing Student Awareness of Indigenous Peoples survey carried out in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013. The results suggest that most students are substantially unaware of Aboriginal people including their presence (geography), their cultural continuity (history), the laws structuring their conditions of life (governance), current events, and their cultures. Most students entering Memorial University learn what they know from the K– –12 curriculum, which is woefully inadequate—although where the curriculum is strong students do perform better, suggesting that curricular and text reform could make a large difference. This paper is the first in a two-part series in which we focus first on quantitative results and then a discourse analysis of students’ words. 

Résumé: Cet article présente les résultats d’une analyse quantitative de l’enquête sur la sensibilisation des étudiants aux peuples autochtones qui a été effectuée à Terre-Neuve et Labrador en 2013. Les résultats suggèrent que la plupart des étudiants connaissent très peu de choses au sujet des peuples autochtones, y compris leur présence (géographie), leur continuité culturelle (histoire), les lois qui structurent leurs conditions de vie (gouvernance), les activités actuelles et leurs cultures. La plupart des étudiants qui entreprennent leurs études à l’Université Memorial ont appris ce qu’ils savent durant leur programme de 12e année, ce qui est manifestement insuffisant, bien que des étudiants qui proviennent d’établissements où le programme est plus poussé performent mieux, suggérant que la réforme des programmes et des textes pourrait faire toute la différence. Cet article est le premier d’une série en deux parties dans laquelle nous mettons l’accent d’abord sur les résultats quantitatifs puis sur une analyse du discours des étudiants.


​Godlewska, A., Rose, J., Schaefli, L., Freake, S., & Massey, J. (2016). First Nations, Métis and Inuit presence in the Newfoundland and Labrador curriculum. Race, Ethnicity and Education. http://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2016.1248825. 

Abstract: This article responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada’s 2015 call for the education of Canadians about ‘residential schools, treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada.’ It is an analysis of the Canadian and world studies curricula and texts in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada. The analysis is based on academic research and consultations with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples (FNMI) educators, educational administrators and knowledge holders. Although there is evidence of reform, as a whole the curriculum suffers from silences and lack of context, problematic placement and associations, the intrusion of settler perspectives, contradiction over judgement about issues related to FNMI peoples and inconsistency that undermine efforts at reform. This article provides guidance to curriculum designers, textbook writers, teachers and administrators participating in the decolonization of education in Canada.


​Godlewska, A., Massey, J., Adjei, J., & Moore, J. (2013). The unsustainable nature of ignorance: Measuring knowledge to effect social change first results of an on-line survey of Aboriginal knowledge at Queen’s University. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 33(1), 65–95. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy.queensu.ca/docview/1498365986?accounti...

Abstract: Based on research carried out at Queen's University, Ontario, this paper argues that one of the principal problems for Native education in Canada is the unawareness about Aboriginal people in Canada. Through consultation with Aboriginal educators and community members, educators and survey design specialists, the authors designed an awareness survey and delivered it to over 3,000 first-year university students. The results of the survey and a discussion of its implications are presented. The results are provocative as are the words of these students. They performed poorly on the test, failing it on average by over 22%. They performed best on questions reflected in the curriculum, suggesting that any effort spent on teaching this material is worthwhile. They performed second best on historical questions, arguably because Aboriginal material is largely restricted to history courses in the Ontario curriculum. They performed least well on questions related to the contemporary issues and status of First Nations, Métis and Inuit. The small number of Alberta and British Columbia educated students in the sample suggest that Alberta and British Columbia students may be a little better informed than Ontario students, but not much. On the whole the students felt that they had been taught poorly and many of them held the educational system responsible for their unawareness. 

Résumé: Fondé sur des recherches menées à l'Université Queen's (Ontario), l'article met de l'avant que la méconnaissance générale des Autochtones est l'un des principaux problèmes de l'éducation des Autochtones au Canada. Après avoir consulté des éducateurs et des membres des collectivités autochtones, d'autres éducateurs et des spécialistes de la conception des enquêtes, les auteurs ont mis au point un questionnaire sur la sensibilisation et l'ont envoyé à plus de 3 000 étudiants universitaires de première année. L'article présente les résultats de l'enquête et une discussion de leurs conséquences. Les résultats sont aussi provocants que les déclarations des étudiants : ces derniers ont obtenu de faibles résultats au test, qu'ils ont échoué en moyenne par plus de 22 %. Ils ont eu les meilleurs résultats pour les questions reflétées dans le programme d'études, ce qui suggère que tout effort déployé pour enseigner le matériel en vaut la peine. Leurs deuxièmes meilleurs résultats visaient les questions d'ordre historique. On pourrait dire que c'est parce que le matériel autochtone est en grande partie confiné aux cours d'histoire dans le programme d'études en Ontario. Les résultats les plus faibles étaient associés aux questions liées aux questions et au statut contemporains des Premières Nations, des Inuits et des Métis. Le petit nombre d'étudiants de l'échantillon qui ont été éduqués en Alberta et en ColombieBritannique semble indiquer que ceux-ci sont peut-être un peu plus informés que les étudiants ontariens, mais pas beaucoup plus. Dans l'ensemble, les étudiants croyaient qu'ils n'avaient pas été bien éduqués et bon nombre d'entre eux tenaient le système d'éducation responsable de leur méconnaissance.


​Godlewska, A., Schaefli, L. M., & Chaput, P. J. A. (2013). First Nations assimilation through neoliberal educational reform. The Canadian Geographer, 57(3), 271–279. http://doi.org/10.1111/cag.12016

Abstract: The authors undertake a geographically sensitive analysis of the influential 2010 Free to Learn report. Free to Learn proposes a reform of the funding system for First Nations students to remove funds earmarked for First Nations education from First Nations government control, convert universities into managers of First Nations student funding, and convert First Nations community members into entrepreneurs. Free to Learn employs two strategies: scalar obfuscation and the cultivation of historical geographic ignorance to obscure the links between their proposal for neoliberal educational reform and the long-standing assimilative strategies of the Canadian and pre-Canadian state. The authors explore the economics and demography in the report and expose its deep links to colonial and assimilative policies of the recent and distant past. They link this report to the larger theatre of education in Canada where cultures are frequently reduced to mutable symbols in an ahistorical context. They close with a reflection on the challenges and dangers of taking a political stance with limited understanding of the forces at work in the environment of neoliberal reform prevailing in Canada.


​Godlewska, A. (2013). A deeper sense of place: Awakening to belonging. In J. T. Johnson & S. C. Larsen (Eds.), A deeper sense of place: Stories & journeys of Indigenous-academic collaboration (pp. 217–231). Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.

Abstract: In this essay, the author explores sense of place through the telling of her family’s profound historical bond to land in Poland and Eastern Ontario in Canada. As part of her efforts as a non-Aboriginal educator and scholar to enhance her undergraduate students’ understanding and awareness of Aboriginal realities in Canada, the author uses her family’s story of love and loss of land to bridge the gap between her experience as a child of immigrants and First Nations peoples, who hold an even deeper sense of place and continue to experience colonial dispossession. This story works to address sense of place by illustrating the complex entanglements between humans and land that constituted her family’s experience in both Europe and Canada. In doing so, space is carved out for the acknowledgement and understanding of how her family as immigrants, although living with the consequences of their own dispossession of land in Poland, simultaneously profited from the injustices and loss of land experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. Such a story and its resulting acknowledgment of the complex implications of a deeper sense of place is a means to encourage students to think of how the past shapes the present and how they themselves are connected to these realities. 


​Godlewska, A., Moore, J., & Bednasek, C. D. (2010). Cultivating ignorance of Aboriginal realities. The Canadian Geographer, 54(4), 417–440.

Abstract: The principal problem in Aboriginal education in Canada is the education of Canadians. This article exposes Canada’s long history of ignorance of Aboriginal Peoples and suggests that while education may not be the source of ignorance, it is now perpetuating it. Using the Ontario secondary school curriculum as an example, this article looks at mainstream Canadian and World Studies, of which geography is an integral part, and Native Studies courses, offered in Ontario since 1999, but available for study to few young Ontarians. Curricular reforms during recent decades have removed the worst expressions of racism, but have not addressed fundamental colonial attitudes in the mainstream curriculum. As a citizenry we are complacent about a deep-seated ignorance of the country’s past and present, affecting both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Lack of interest in traditional and modern Aboriginal cultures doom immigrants and established settlers to a dysfunctional relationship with the growing and increasingly internationally recognized indigenous population. As university educators and teachers of teachers, geographers must assume responsibility for promoting truthful and inclusive perceptions of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and, in recognizing the subtle strategies of cultivating ignorance, examine how geography as it is currently taught in schools might exclude Aboriginal People and understanding.


​Schaefli, L. M., & Godlewska, A. M. C. Unsettling pedagogy: Co-designing research in place with First Nations, Métis and Inuit educators. Qualitative Inquiry. (submitted December 2016).

Abstract: This article describes a research methodology that centers Indigenous knowledge in the re-education of residents of Canada. Working with over 200 Indigenous educators, staff, students, faculty and administrators associated with 10 partner universities in Ontario, Canada, we co-designed a questionnaire assessing how Ontario post-secondary students are learning about colonialism and its relationship to Canadian society. We trace the questionnaire’s and our own methodological transformation, discussing humour, the relationship between language and imagination, and assumptions we held that presented significant opportunities to learn. Our experiences attest to the power of Indigenous knowledge and ways of being to shift social worlds.


​Schaefli, L., & Godlewska, A. (2014). Social ignorance and Indigenous exclusion: Public voices in the province of Quebec, Canada. Settler Colonial Studies, 4(3), 227–244. http://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2013.866514

Abstract: This article explores the mobilization of ignorance to uphold and perpetuate settler privilege and domination in the public voice record generated by the Bouchard–Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation, held in Quebec, Canada from February 2007 to May 2008. The Commission was a provincially funded inquiry into how the public felt about accommodating ethnocultural deviance from an assumed norm. Focused primarily on recent immigrant difference, Aboriginal accommodation, Aboriginality and Aboriginal rights were deliberately excluded from the Commission’s purview, yet they are suggestively apparent in the public display and performance of ignorance in the briefs received by the Commission. The role of the intellectual elite in shaping and perpetuating ignorance is clear in the interplay between the Commission parameters established by Bouchard and Taylor and the public response to those parameters. In this article, we theorize ignorance and its role in reinforcing colonial logics; discuss the Commission’s work; analyse the written briefs submitted to the Commission; discuss the Commission’s final report; and reflect on the personal and collective dynamics of ignorance and its consequences for settler–Aboriginal relations. Ignorance is understood here not as an absence of knowledge but as an active, though not necessarily self-conscious, agreement to “know the world wrongly” in a way that supports settler interests and masks its own existence.


​Schaefli, L., & Godlewska, A. (2014). Geographic strategies of Indigenous exclusion: Evidence from the 2007 Bouchard Taylor Commission on Reasonable Accommodation. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe Canadien, 58(1), 110–122. http://doi.org/10.1111/cag.12064

Abstract: Ignorance is linked to colonialism and is deeply implicated in the maintenance of unequal social relations. The authors theorize ignorance as structural and self-interested, and undertake a geographically sensitive analysis of Quebec's 2007 Bouchard-Taylor Commission to demonstrate how ignorance of Aboriginal realities works strategically to sustain unequally occupied rhetorical and material space. The Bouchard-Taylor Commission was a public inquiry into Quebec citizens' opinions on the degree to which cultural difference should be accommodated in the province. Through both geographic decisions about where to hold public meetings and in its very mandate, the Commission restricted participation to Quebecers of French-Canadian descent and immigrants of long and more recent standing. The authors analyze how the law, and ignorance of how it applies to Aboriginal peoples, was mobilized by the Commissioners to create a space from which Aboriginal peoples could be excluded, and highlight the continuity of this strategy with past debates over Quebec identity. The case of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission demonstrates how ignorance operates in highly sophisticated and often readily justifiable ways to uphold settler interests.

Résumé: Alors qu'il existe une interdépendance entre le colonialisme et l'ignorance, celle‐ci est également fortement associée au maintien de relations sociales inégales. Partant de la théorie que l'ignorance est innée et fondée sur un intérêt personnel, les auteurs inscrivent l'analyse de la commission Bouchard‐Taylor du Québec tenue en 2007 dans une perspective géographique en vue de mettre en évidence de quelle manière l'ignorance de la réalité autochtone découle d'une stratégie visant à maintenir une occupation inégale de l'espace rhétorique et matériel. La commission Bouchard‐Taylor a été mise sur pied dans le but de mener une enquête publique auprès des citoyens du Québec pour recueillir leurs avis pour savoir dans quelle mesure les différences d'ordre culturel devraient faire l'objet d'accommodements dans la province. Autant par les décisions de nature géographique au sujet des endroits choisis pour tenir les audiences publiques que par son propre mandat, la Commission a limité la participation aux Québécois de descendance canadienne‐française et aux immigrants récents et de longue date. L'analyse porte ensuite sur la loi et comment les commissaires ont pu tirer parti de l'ignorance de la manière dont elle s'applique aux peuples autochtones pour générer un espace qui pouvait les exclure. Les auteurs soulignent à quel point cette stratégie se situe dans la continuité avec les débats précédents qui ont eu lieu sur l'identité du Québec. La commission Bouchard‐Taylor fournit un exemple de l'utilisation hautement sophistiquée et certainement légitime de l'ignorance dans le but de défendre les intérêts des colonisateurs.

Reports

Godlewska, A., Schaefli, L., Massey, J., Freake, S., Adjei, J., Rose, J., & Hudson, C. (2016). Report on the knowledge of Aboriginal people and topics by first year students at Memorial. Newfoundland and Labrador.