(Note: These terms may have different meanings in other contexts.)
Aboriginal Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution (1982) defines the term “Aboriginal” as referring to the original occupants of Canada. In Saskatchewan Aboriginal refers to Indian/First Nation or Métis peoples.
Colonialism An unequal distribution of power and resources. Colonialism is caused by cultural and structural oppression that is enforced through the imposition of power, influence, and authority. We are all affected by the relationships established under colonization in Canada. These relationships are characterized by economic and political ideas and practices based on each Nation’s (First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Aboriginal) beliefs about the process and its outcomes. In our province, processes of decolonisation are presently underway. (See decolonisation)
Constructivism A theory of learning, that we all create knowledge. Learners construct new knowledge from their own previous knowledge. Rather than simply absorbing ideas transmitted to them by instructors through endless rote practice, learners instead create knowledge by connecting new information to their own pre-existing notions and later modifying understandings in light of new data.
In a constructivist approach, learners’ ideas gain in complexity, and, with support, learners begin to understand how they think and what they know about the world. Constructivism emphasizes the careful study of the processes by which learners create and develop their ideas. Educational applications, therefore, match (not challenge) learners’ understandings by encouraging further growth and development of what is already known.
Contextualized learning An approach to learning where learners develop skills for real-world uses in real-world situations. Lessons and units of study give learners opportunities to learn in a variety of meaningful contexts. This approach facilitates the transfer of knowledge to new contexts.
Criterion-Referenced Assessment A test taker’s performance is compared to the domain of performances being assessed. Assumes that ability can be represented along a continuum from little ability in a specific domain to higher levels of competency. A criterion-referenced test is used to determine where along the continuum a learner should be placed. Performance standards specify the tasks that a learner should know at a given level or point along the continuum. Minimum competencies indicate the lowest level of performance that is acceptable. The focus is on determining what an individual already knows and, therefore, what needs to be taught instead of an individual’s standing relative to a norm-reference group (Adapted from Kruidenier, 2002, p. 91).
Critical reflection A cognitive process where we think about our experiences: to muse, to review and so on…, but to reflect critically is also to examine the underlying beliefs and assumptions that affect how we make sense of our experience.
Critical thinking To analyse and look at our assumptions from as many unfamiliar perspectives as possible10.
Decolonisation Decolonising involves an active process of exposing the realities of Eurocentric dominant culture practices and policies that have systemically dominated anddenied Aboriginal participation in mainstream activities11. By deconstructing the disastrous impact in maintaining unjust power relations, decolonisation involves all people unlearning the strategies that have deliberately silenced Aboriginal peoples’ full participation in social, political, economic, and emotional growth.
Discourses A discourse is spoken or written language that creates meaning embedded in a certain political view. Discourses come to us through books, videos, societal institutions (e.g. government, church, school), and even through informal discussions.
Dominant culture White, patriarchal, heterosexist, Eurocentric and Judeo Christian in origin.
Demystification A process to examine and clarify the alienating and oppressive features that have been disguised and hidden from the oppressed.
Empathy The emotional response of shared understanding in which each person assumes the other’s perspective and cultural values as much as possible.
Empathetic communication skills Verbal and/or nonverbal expressions of understanding and respect for a person’s beliefs and values. These expressions may include accepting, validating, acknowledging, confirming, and extending.
First Nation A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian”, which many people found offensive. Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term “First Nations peoples” is meant to be inclusive and refers to status Indian people in Canada. It implies a shared heritage of culture, knowledge, history, and colonialism. Symbolically, the term elevates Indian peoples to a status of "first among equals" in their quest for self-determination and self-government within the Canadian nation-state. Many Indian people have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “band” in the name of their community; for example, “I am from Sweetgrass First Nation.”
Indian A legal term that includes Aboriginal people who have special legal status in Canada as regulated by the Indian Act. These people are descendants of the First Nations of Canada.
Integration Integration is about wholeness. Learners combine new information with what they have already learned in other ways and in other contexts. For example, communications skills are integrated with other skills as learners participate in language activities in all subject areas. Integration also refers to the mixing of the different kinds of learners who participate in groups. Integrating learners with a variety of abilities promotes peer tutoring.
Meritocracy A social system in which people’s success in life depends primarily on their merit: their talents, abilities, and effort. Within this belief is the idea that all individuals can be successful if they apply themselves. We attribute the “bootstraps” idea to this concept – whereby individuals can rise up to greatness through the application of their common sense and a strong work ethic. However, under critical examination, we have come to understand that not all individuals can achieve solely on their merit. Critical perspectives also illuminate the inherent bias that a privileged construction of ability and talent create. The myth of meritocracy continues to flourish in spite of systemic oppressions, prejudice, and discrimination that limit opportunities for the lower classes and those who are visible minorities.
Metacognition The process of thinking about thinking. Flavell (1977) describes it as follows: "Metacognition refers to one's knowledge concerning one's own cognitive processes or anything related to them” (p. 232). Metacognition involves the active monitoring and regulation of cognitive processes. Metacognitive processes are central to planning, problem-solving, evaluation and many aspects of language learning.
Métis The term “Métis” refers to those Aboriginal residents of Canada who have gained membership in a Métis community and have received the right to be legally defined by their collective group.
Multidisciplinary approach Content from a variety of subject areas is included to enhance relevance. For example, if the theme “low-budget cooking” is used by a particular group of learners in a Communications class, the instructor who uses a multidisciplinary approach will ensure crossover from other subject areas. In this case, the Communications instructor will include lessons that involve concepts traditionally reserved for math, science, or life skills courses. This may include banking knowledge, estimating and calculating costs of meals, understanding bacteria growth and connecting nutrition with success. Taking a multidisciplinary approach represents a way for instructors to focus on and to respond to the holistic dynamics adult learners bring to school.
Mystified concepts Those ideas, notions, assumptions, and/or categories of information that have been normalized by dominant society12. These are concepts that have become so deeply familiar that they are rarely questioned, and their meanings reflect and perpetuate old exclusivities that masquerade as universalism. Partial knowledge exists when a tradition of thinking is continually shaped and expressed by confusing partial truths.
Performance-Based Assessment is used to evaluate a learner’s ability to use knowledge or skills gained in a realistic or authentic situation to complete tasks. Generally, performance tasks involve written or spoken responses or participation in group or individual activities (Kruidenir, 2002, p. 91).
Praxis It is what we do in addition to what we think. Characteristics of praxis include self-determination (as opposed to coercion), creativity (as opposed to homogeneity), and rationality (as opposed to reaction and chance). Praxis is made of a continuous cycle of action-reflection-action that is central to emancipatory education (Freire, 1970). Action stands in direct contrast to theory (Johnson, 1995). Praxis is informed action.
Racism People’s prejudicial attitudes as well as discriminatory practices towards individuals of a certain ethnic/racial background. Racism is a system of domination and subordination designed to maintain inequality.
“Racism is not something which simply affects its victims in various adverse ways: It also benefits all those against whom it is not directed, by affording certain privileges” (Shadd, 1991, p. 34). This idea of racism moves away from a definition that only focuses on deliberate hateful acts (lynching or racially motivated violence) to an acceptance of the way in which racism operates more commonly (systemic racism that replicates inequality). For example, schooling privileges particular ideas of success (monetary reward and individually gained status). These same ideas are examples of racism when they structurally deny other definitions of success (strong networks and sharing of power), thus unwittingly denying full opportunity for some based on race.
Standardized Assessment Administration and scoring procedures are standardized for all examinees. Tests are scored in the same way, using detailed examination guides and trained examiners. An individual’s score is often compared to the scores of a representative group of those taking the test (a norm group). Results may be expressed as grade equivalencies, percentile ranks, or stanines.
Traditional teaching practices These refer to the technical nature of transmission curriculum delivery. These include programmed learning by structured teaching approaches13.
Transformation One of the three orientations of curriculum – transformation focuses on personal and social change where learning takes on a more critical, multi-dimensional view of society14.
Transaction One of the three orientations of curriculum – transaction reflects the practical aspects of teaching15. A transaction orientation of curriculum is achieved when the power is shifted to the learner, and the instructor assumes the role of facilitator.
Voice A people’s authentic self-expression that is shaped by cultural, gender, racial and class/status identities.
Worldviews Those general understandings about the universe and our philosophic relationship to it - some broad assumptions about the meaning of life, the way things work and what is important. A worldview is often associated with a group or society, recognizing that there are variations between individuals within the group.