Each of us comes to our work in education with a history of experiences, influences, teachings, and values. Educators bring myriad inspirations and aspirations to advancing the profession through ongoing reflection, learning, and dialogue. Beyond the individual efforts, formal education hold the dominant society’s collective hopes and intentions for the next generations. Those with power and influence determine what is privileged in the education system: whose voices are heard, and whose values are silenced. Educators who take a Freirean approach—an emancipatory stance—seek to disrupt the hegemonic structures that perpetuate the status quo and normative functions of schooling. Working towards more socially just education practices, educators navigate colonized and colonizing spaces within the schooling systems to unsettle marginality in intentional ways.
By drawing on the wisdom of those who have come before us and those in practice now, we might create greater possibilities and potentialities for education that recognizes differences as strengths within the ecology of humanity. Education has existed long before the advent of schools and teachers. It is has been an integral part of communities and knowledge systems. Teachers have come in many forms; human, more-than-human (Abrams, 1996), metaphysical (Little Bear, 2000; Deloria Jr., 1979/2012), and beyond.
Ethnographer and author, Wade Davis (2009), describes the central lesson of anthropology as an answer to the question, “what does it mean to be human and alive?” where cultural differences reflect different people’s ways of life from around the Earth. Wayfinding is a means of navigating the world that relies on teachings and knowledges passed down through generations and embodied connections with the more-than-human world. Wayfinding in education encompasses wisdom that his been passed down over generations, recognition of embodied knowledges, and attunement to the current educational places we are navigating.
As co-editors, Beth, Jennifer and Sabbir, drew inspiration from Looking Back, Living Forward: Indigenous Research Rising Up (Markides & Forsythe, 2018), an edited collection that brought together the work of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars whose research was shaped by their responsibilities to the generations past, present, and future. Similar to academic writing where scholars reference the work of others who have come before them in the field and shaped their thinking and ideas around a topic, Indigenous people will recognize the generations who have come before them and passed on teachings that support life and shape sustainable relationships with self and others, including the more-than-human world.
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