CJ#3: Outdoor Education: An Opportunity to Understand Colonialism

Visual Representation #3Visual Representation #3: Hope of children recognizing Indigenous culture and the idea of colonialism through outdoor education

As a person who was mainly grown up within the standardized education system, the concept of outdoor education is still pretty new and interesting to explore. In fact, applying the idea of colonialism and learning about Indigenous culture through outdoor education is even newer concept to me, as it is something that I have not thought of until now.

If I look back, learning about history and culture was always happened through history classes, or perhaps through media. That being said, I was always in a passive position when I was exposed to the history, which made me sometimes get bored, feel less connected, and deny the fact that history can be viewed with a different lens. It also made me think of history and outdoor education as different categories. I used to understand that the ideal concept of outdoor education was to experience and explore nature that is pure and untouched by humans, whereas the history was something that we learn about past events in a chronological order.

It was not until reading Newbery’s (2012) article that I realized that these two concepts can never be separated. Being outside, or stepping on this very land, should be an opportunity for students to “be more mindful … [and] acknowledge that we are in traditional Aboriginal territories” (pg. 39). In other words, the curriculum of outdoor education should be designed for students to realize colonialism and how Aboriginal peoples were affected due to white settlers’ arrival on this very land, rather than just exploring the “wilderness” (pg. 31) that is “typically understood as wild, unpolluted and good” (pg. 37) in the Western context. By doing so, outdoor education will become “an important way of combating the Euro-centrism that pervades educational practice” (pg. 33), and students will be familiar with Aboriginal cultures and get to understand the relationship between Indigenous peoples and white settlers, by being taught about colonial history in Canada.

 

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