Below is a portion of my Teaching the Whole Child- Guided Inquiry Assignment.
I referenced Pamela Rose Toulouse’s Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools book for this portion of my assignment. You can find her book -here
Sacred Circle Teachings from the East
According to the sacred circle used by the Anishinaabek peoples of the Lake Huron region, the core terms represented by the east are: babies, physical, yellow, morning, seeing, reveal, fire, tobacco, spring, 3 moons – Sugar Moon, Sucker Moon, Flower Moon. (Toulouse, 2018, p.60) Many of these words are intentionally interconnected in a way that perfectly represents the reasoning behind why all Indigenous nations begin the teachings of the sacred circle in the East. Our days begin with the sun rising in the east, which allows for us to occupy all five of our senses. Sight being the most important in this case because the light creates opportunities for us to physically “see the world as we are and [be] challenged to embrace other perspectives”. (p. 60) This is one of the many teachings of the sacred circle that must be embodied by all to strive towards reciprocity for all Indigenous peoples. The importance of reciprocity is not necessarily to change your own world views and beliefs, but to acknowledge and accept all ways of knowing.
To embody the teachings from the East in the classroom I believe it is crucial to start the day off with a physical holistic health learning break. This learning break should also include one or more of the core terms represented by the east. In my future classroom I will strive to begin the first ten minutes of each day outside with my students. I would have us all participate in a physical movement activity with hopes of energizing their bodies and minds in preparation of what the rest of the day has in store for them. I would also use this as an opportunity to explain that traditional teachings of the sacred circle took place outside on the land, not in a classroom.
Sacred Circle Teachings from the South
The south aspect of the sacred circle’s core terms that are recognized by the Anishinaabek are as follows: adolescence, emotional, red, afternoon, feeling, relate, water, sage, summer, 3 moons – Strawberry Moon, Raspberry/ Blueberry Moon, and Grain Moon. (Toulouse, 2018, p. 60) The core term ‘relate’ in the south aspect of the medicine wheel speaks to my emotions the most. To create a sense of interconnectedness in our classrooms we must develop the abilities to seek relations between all aspects of the sacred circle and our daily lives.
In my future classroom I believe that we can utilize the teachings of the south by incorporating holistic activities in the afternoon. It will impact our students in a more meaningful way if they are given an opportunity to embody these teachings during the time of day it represents. An appropriate classroom activity will include developing a deeper understanding of one or more core terms. I want my students to understand the importance of each core term, so they can develop their own interpretations and relations of what the sacred circle means to them.
Sacred Circle Teachings from the West
The core terms related to the West aspect of the Anishinaabek sacred circle are: adults, intellectual, black, evening, thinking, reflect, earth, cedar, fall, 3 Moons – Corn/Autumn Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, and Freezing Moon. (Toulouse, 2018, p.60). The west represents the inevitable changes that occur in our world daily. The two terms thinking, and reflecting are not only interconnected within each other, but are also key factors that need to be utilized to challenge our intellectual self. We must be intellectually inept to keep up to the pace of these changes and critically understand why these changes occur and how they may affect our wellbeing.
When incorporating teachings of the West in my future classroom I hope to provide my students with the competencies needed to deal with change. We can use the term ‘evening’ to help our students ease through their school to home life transitions. The term earth can be used to develop an understanding on how our ecological footprints can cause a ripple effect of recurring negative changes to all living things on the land. The teachings of the west give us ample opportunities to think and reflect about our interconnectedness within the world around us.
Sacred Circle Teachings from the North
The North core terms associated with the Anishinaabek sacred circle are: Elders/Elderly, spiritual, white, night, doing, respond, air, sweetgrass, winter, 4 Moons – Little Spirit Moon, Big Spirit Moon, Spirit Moon and Bear Moon. (Toulouse, 2018, p.60) The North represents our elders and the fourth stage of our lives. It is at this time that we can encompass all of what we have learned in the first three stages and reflect upon our experiences.
In a classroom the teachings of the north can be used as an opportunity for students to reflect on the connections they have made thus far with the sacred circle. I want to give my students time to create their own responses by critically analysing their transforming understanding of holistic ideologies. Through varying activities such as discussions, talking circles and time spent on the land, I hope my students will have the tools needed to engage in holistic practices in and outside of the classroom.