Indigegogy stands for „Indigenous Pedagogy”. Yet it is a placeholder signifying the importance of culturally sensitive concepts of teaching and learning. The term is coined by the Opaskwayak Cree Elder and retired Professor Stan Wilson.
Stan Wilson about Indigegogy
The word “Indigegogy” is made up because there is no such word in the English language as far as I know. So, I thought that the word pedagogy has a lot of cultural baggage with it. Most teacher training institutions I believe don’t unpack that word enough but I realized that it didn’t work for me and I believe [for] other indigenous people because of the implications what it means on your teaching. It means that as a teacher especially in the mainstream educational system you have the whole society behind you, the whole culture behind you to support your position as a teacher. And the position of the teacher is viewed as being the authority in the classroom and that children or the students are expected to believe and follow whatever instructions the teacher gives. So, what happens, I believe, is that the indigenous children or the non-mainstream children don’t see themselves in
the process and can’t participate fully in the process. That’s reflected, I believe, in the way that most of the people don’t make it through – you know like me. I felt that I was not able to speak with the same authority as mainstream teachers and I believe that this is reflected in how I was teaching.
After, you know, I was served by a teacher, I was in the process of perpetuating the English language and culture at the expense of, you know, my own and so I started to realize that: What the heck I have my own language and my own culture that I can use in my teaching. It would be just as legitimate as anybody else’s. So, that’s when I started to reflect on and develop my own way of teaching and learning ideas. And one of those ideas is the idea of “Indigegogy”. It’s a placeholder, so that any other indigenous peoples can insert their own word for teaching and learning. You know from their own language.
Stan Wilson about the Relational Way
I realize that there are words that express concepts and ideas in Cree language that form the basis of I guess the main principles of the world view. One of those words is “wahkotowin” which basically means we are all related. “Wahkotowin”, we as human beings are in a relationship. But it extends beyond the idea of relationships between and amongst humans, human beings. It includes all other livings things, all other living beings. And in that relationship we are accountable for our words and our actions in that relationship to keep a balance. So that we as human beings don’t upset the balance in the relationship by being too egotistical, I guess. And one way of saying it is that we think only of ourselves. That we have to think of our actions [that] affect all the other, all our other relations because of our human being actions there can be consequences, drastic consequences. Some people call it natural law and natural law is merciless. Kind of like a web where you’re part of web and whatever actions you do shakes the web. But it’s not a flat web it’s a kind of a global web.
Stanley Wilson, Ph.D., is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Canada. He is a retired professor and the co-founder of the First Nations Graduate Education at the University of Alberta.
Having gone through a pedagogical system that strategically set out to kill the “Indian in the child”, he invited not only his co-author Barbara Schellhammer, but every reader of this book into a journey of relational learning. His personal life story combined with significant pedagogical insights is the starting point for a process of weaving two world-views together modeling how to be relational, how to live relationality. What Stan is showing his readers is crucial – not just for Canada with its colonial past, but also for countries like Germany which are challenged to offer educational programs for people with diverse cultural backgrounds. Indigegogy unfolds Indigenous concepts by practicing them – concepts that are important not just for educators.
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