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Research Domain: Group Three - Informal Learning Cultures

Title of Project: 'Untapped Knowledge': Cultural Resource Knowledge of Minoritized Communities and the Potential for Educational Change

Start Date: April 1, 1998
Academic Investigator: Dr. George Dei (OISE/UT)
Student Researcher: Stephanie Cheddie (OISE/UT)

This study looks at specific home and community educational strategies that parents, families, guardians, caregivers and community workers have successfully employed to promote effective learning and to enhance youth educational outcomes. With the aid of OISE/UT research assistants, I have been examining independent learning strategies and prior learning styles developed and utilized in the home and in autonomous community educational outlets for youth to engage the school system. The SSHRC study has also explored ways in which community liaison workers have successfully assisted in bringing minority youths' and parents' home and community learning strategies and knowledge into the school.

Pertinent research questions include: the examination of how can cultural resource knowledge as indigenous knowledge used in the homes be useful in contributing to transformative learning and education? How do local communities rely on history, oral culture and ancestral knowledge to make sense and meaning in everyday interactions/ What are the instructional, pedagogic, communicative strengths of family stories, fables, folklore, songs and proverbs? What are the implications of such knowledge for 'empowering' youth in school systems? How is cultural resource knowledge used in solving family social and educational problems? How do local communities/groups define/express their self-generated knowledge about the 'individual', 'personhood' and 'local community'? How do youths bring cultural resource knowledge from the homes and off-school environments to engage mainstream schools. What is the pedagogy of home?

These questions are being answered through a study of learning styles and teaching practices in selected homes and family groups. There are in-depth interviews with individuals and groups on specific independent learning techniques utilized in homes/families using oral history tradition and ancestry. There are also ethnographic studies of selected autonomous learning structures in local communities for impacting such ways of knowledge (e.g. community-based educational initiatives). The focus in these studies is on the indigenous knowledge base associated with history, culture and long-term occupancy of a place. This knowledge base includes intergenerational modes of communication, the use of personal experiences/experiential knowledge in communication, dreams, visions and intuition to make social meanings.

 

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