Aboriginal World Views as Challenges and Possibilities in Social Work Education As Aboriginal peoples gain more access to schools of social work, the academy needs to respond to their educational needs.
This involves incorporating Aboriginal world views into social work education. This paper focuses on one definition of world views according to Aboriginal epistemology. It also critiques both the role of social work in the lives of Aboriginal peoples and the goals of social work education. It raises key components that need to be addressed in the academy and provides ways in which this can be achieved. The profession of social work has not tended to be friendly towards Aboriginal peoples. Rather, it has often been intrusive, judgmental, controlling and harmful.In recent years, Aboriginal peoples have moved into the area of social work, they are receiving social work degrees and gaining control of some of our services. We even have a handful of Aboriginal social work educators teaching in universities across North America.As more and more schools of social work begin to incorporate anti oppressive theories and practices into their curricula, it opens the door for such approaches to include work that is conducive to Aboriginal perspectives.This paper asserts that Aboriginal worldviews must be incorporated throughout social work education. It does not include all components of such world views, but rather only those that I see as of first importance to the topic of social work education. The paper includes a literature review of social work education by Aboriginal scholars which will centre on what they believe needs to be taught in curricula. In addition, based on my analysis, I will identify where research in this area needs to head at this time.Towards an Understanding of Aboriginal World ViewsEber Hampton (1995) published an article several years ago in the Canadian Journal of Native Education titled comes before knowledge For me, this magical, mysterious and completely sensible phrase captures the connections inherent in Aboriginal world views. It helps me to understand so many pieces of the circle that contribute to Aboriginal ways of knowing and seeing the world. It is inclusive of spirit, blood memory, respect, interconnectedness, storytelling, feelings, experiences and guidance. It also reminds me that I do not need to know or understand in the sense of absolute certainty everything. It reinforces the sense that it is perfectly acceptable and appropriate to believe that there is much that I am aware of, but that I cannot explain. I am aware, for example, that I carry teachings of my ancestors, that I do certain things according to the changes of the moon each month and that my brother who has passed into the spirit world is attending school over there. I am aware of these things, but I cannot offer explanations. I am also aware that this is the way it is supposed to be. I accept what cannot be known and recognize that this is part of my world view.In keeping with this assertion, Willie Ermine (1995) states that epistemology speaks of pondering great mysteries that lie no further than the self (p. 108). Thus, in order to find meanings in the world around us, we must continuously explore our inner selves. Aboriginal ray ban sunglasses cheap price world views incorporate ways of turning inward for the purpose of finding meanings through prayer, fasting, dream interpretation, ceremonies and silence. Our ancestors left us these methods through the generational teachings that are passed on by our Elders and via our blood memories.There is an explicit acceptance that each individual has the inherent ability for introspection. Although there is great community guidance, this inward journey isconducted alone and is unique for each of us. It provides us with our purpose and, therefore, what we have to offer the whole.Knowledge, then, is based on experience. One experiences through her inward journeys provide both individual learning and teachings for the collective. The accumulation of each individual contribution becomes a community culture. Culture is kept alive and ray ban rb constantly changing because individuals continue their introspective journeys and contribute their learning to the community.Even so, there is space and acceptance of all that cannot be explained. As Ermine (1995) writes, epistemology is grounded in the self, the spirit, the unknown (p. 108). We do not know, but we experience.Collective cultural and spiritual experiences strongly indicate the notion of connection. As Paula Gunn Allen (1986) says, things are related and are of one family (p. 60). Thus, I am connected to my family, community, Mi Nation, everything on Mother Earth and the spirit world. To divide any of these realities into separate categories is a dishonour to Aboriginal ways of thinking.This understanding of interrelatedness also applies to each individual. Carol Locust (1988), for example, writes: Native people, we cannot separate our spiritual teachings from our learning, nor can we separate our beliefs about who, and what we are from our values and our behaviours (p. 328). Hence, all of the aspects of a person physical, psychological, emotional sale ray ban sunglasses and spiritual are connected and cannot be viewed in isolation. Both Fitznor (1998) and Shilling (2002) emphasize the importance of this concept to the well being of each of us. Fitznor (1998) reminds us we are all related and all have a responsibility to each other healing and growth (p.33). Much of this occurs in our sharing circles which also the traditional concept of interconnectedness (Fitznor, 1998, p. 34). This, in turn, leads to a holistic approach of healing and learning whereby of the senses, coupled with openness to intuitive or spiritual insights, are required (Brant Castellano, 2000, p. 29).When someone can live as a whole person, then she can connect to all around her and attend to her responsibilities. In Aboriginal world views, a focus on individual and collective responsibility for all members of one community is highlighted. Leroy Little Bear (2000) articulates this component beautifully:Wholeness is like a flower with four petals. When it opens, one discovers strength, sharing, honesty, and kindness. Together these four petals create balance, harmony, and beauty. Wholeness works in the same interconnected way. The whole strength speaks to the idea of sustaining balance. If a person is whole and balanced, then he or she is in a position to fulfill his or her individual responsibilities to the whole. If a person is not balanced, then he or she is sick and weak physically, mentally or both and cannot fulfill his or her individual responsibilities (p. 79).Since I am particularly concerned about the idea of responsibility within Aboriginal world views, I emphasize it in discussions about oral tradition. Teaching and passing on information by Elders to younger generations is an inherent concept of our world views. I seem to always learn best by listening to the stories of my Elders and Traditional Teachers personal life experiences. These are people who know me and with whom I have gradually developed relationships over time. Whatever they choose to teach me at any particular moment is based on our relationships and always takes place in person.Both the teacher and the student have a responsibility for the knowledge that is passed between them. According to Brant Castellano (2000), people know that ray ban 4141 knowledge is power and that power can be used for good or for evil. In passing on knowledge the teacher has an obligation to consider whether the learner is ready to use knowledge responsibly (p. 26).This is the reasoning behind the resistance of many Elders and Traditional Teachers to having their teachings recorded in the written form. Brant Castellano (2000) points out the seriousness of this consideration when she states, who allow these things relinquish the possibility of adjusting their teaching to the maturity of the learner and thereby influencing the ethical use of knowledge (p. 27).For me, these selected concepts of Aboriginal world views acceptance and a belief in the unknown, inner journeying, experience is knowledge, interconnectedness, responsibility and teaching through oral tradition relate to how I view the practice of social work, which is healing, and the education of it, which is teaching from experience.Aboriginal World Views in Social Work EducationThe language of the social services not stem from or operate within theconsciousness of interconnected and interdependent planes of reality. The institutions isolate and treat the that, in a tribal view, is only a symptom of a more significant imbalance. Institutionalized words, words cannot initiate the kind of healing achieved through tribal rituals (Blaeser, 1996, p. 44).Therein lies the reason why conventional social work has often failed and harmed Aboriginal peoples it oppresses our ways of knowing and healing practices. What, then, do Aboriginal social work practitioners and educators see as the solutions to this failure? We survive. I propose that we look at survival, not as an end, but as a continuous process of resistance and healing. Blaeser (1996) writes about this in his critique of novelist Gerald Vizenor stories:Survivors actively engage themselves in the ongoing process of discovering and creating their own lives. Those who survive are those who continuously evolve. If stasis characterizes the victims, vitality and adaptability characterize the survivors. Vizenor survivors adjust: they examine, question, shift, stretch, bend, change, grow, juggle, balance, and sometimes duck for surviving doesn necessarily mean winning (p. 63).Social work education is intended to socialize students into the norms and values of the profession which includes both perspectives on clients and beliefs about desirable behaviours.
However, since it is infused with dominant world views, it is seen as oppressive by many Aboriginal peoples. According to the literature by Aboriginal social work scholars (Bruyere, 1998; Gair, Thomson, Miles Harris, 2002: Hart, 2002; Hurdle, 2002; Lynn, 2001; Morrissette, McKenzie Morrissette, 1993; Waller Patterson, 2002; Weaver, 1998; Weaver, 1999; Weaver, 2000a; Weaver, 2000b), there are key components that must be addressed within social work education for both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students. These components are:inclusiveness of Aboriginal world views and ways of helping throughout social work curriculum; awareness of the history of colonization; insight into the assumptions, values and biases of the profession, educators and students; understanding of the client cultural context; and.
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