How do you talk about Aboriginal issues in the classroom?
What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom is a research project that explores difficult discussions of Aboriginal issues that take place in classrooms at the University of British Columbia. Students frequently report troubling and sometimes traumatic discussions of cultural issues in class. These situations often affect their ability to function in their coursework, and even their ability to return to class.
The project looks at how the challenges around talking about race work as an educational barrier at the classroom level. This is something that has not been sufficiently addressed in educational institutions, and yet, is something that desperately needs to be discussed.
Classrooms, especially classrooms at major institutions like UBC, are becoming increasingly diverse and require attention in order to have effective cross-cultural discussions. This project works to improve the conversations around politically and culturally sensitive issues in a classroom by asking: how does cultural communication happen in a classroom, and how can it be improved?
Initially developed by students in the First Nations Studies Program at UBC as a way of documenting their experiences using digital video, this project examines the experiences of students, instructors, and administrators at the university to make these problems visible, better understand how difficulties arise, and to find ways to have more professional and productive classroom discussions.