From the First Nations Principles of Learning: Learning is Reflexive

From the First Nations Principles of Learning: Learning is Reflexive

Learning is Reflexive

What we learn and know affects who we are. True learning is more, much more, than adding to yourself knowledge and skills. A true learner engages the full person, body, soul (mind) and spirit. A growing child has behind them a cute wagon called “self” to which they add each new learning experience. The contents of this wagon further inspire, direct and enables their learning, in a process sometimes said to be “more like lighting a fire than filling a bucket”.  But the great miracle of learning takes place, also very well stated in the axiom, “When the learning is ready, a teacher will appear”.

Learners and learning moving back and forth, each affecting the other in a growth process is what has been called reflexive learning. Such learning cannot be superficial but it need not be left to chase. Such learning is enhanced by being deliberate about it. A learner ought rightly to know themselves, including who they are, their strengths, weaknesses, and particularly attitudes, because all of these profoundly condition learning. We often resist learning important lessons because, as my father often said, “Pardon me, but your attitude is showing”. An open attitude toward learning and a growing sense of self is essential to growing up strong and wise. This is where all of us can make life changing contributions to our children, our grandchildren, and all those that God might put in our paths.

When it comes to healing and reconciliation, we ought to know our history and our place in it because it goes to who we are and who we are seen to be. We ought rightly to appreciate the poverty and desperation that led our own forefathers to settle in the so-called “New World”, and the goodwill, the trusting partnership, early settlers and traders established with local First Nations. A Part of who I am is the result of 19th-century events on the banks of the Manitoba Red River. It is a story of drastic change that took as little as 20 years. It is a story of massacre, disease, and famine that left a once active buffalo hunting grounds relatively empty and ready for settlement.  It is a story that did not seem important enough to me to hear until I went there. I'm not a Social Studies specialist, but I enjoy learning history backward from the present to the past by asking why. It allows me to identify my own place in the stream of history, and engage in rich, reflexive learning.