Place and Context
I haven’t updated my blog in a while, seems I’ve moved from Wollongong, back to the US.
I’m now working at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washingong, a newly accredited tribal college that is growing quite rapidly. I’ve been charged with expanding our online learning system and also participating in the administration of a videoconferencing system.
From an institutional standpoint, I’ve worked at a few universities, one law school, and now one tribal college. While Seattle University School of Law operated more as a business, seemingly uninterested in the scholarship of their teaching and learning and so devoted to law education as it has existed for so many years, Northwest Indian College is different in another way.
While we, who work within the western model of education can assume that the cultural climate between one large university in one place will be pretty similar to the cultural climate in another, this speaks to a larger issue. Besides work ethic, commitment to prioritize either research or quality of teaching, western higher education institutions are largely homogenous, not tied specifically to a place or people. Here, though it’s a different story. Northwest indian College exists specifically not to fit into the western model of education, though sadly it has to conform to it in order to meet certain assessment goals. I’ll be writing more about this new context and what it means for an ally of Indigenous education to be able to work within it.
One thing is for sure, the pedagogical and the psychology of education that I have learned about in recent years, has less of a place here, with much of the instruction striving to be culturally relavent to the coast salish people of the pacific northwest, their place, their traditions and their own ways of knowing.