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How Disciplines Speak: Communication Strategies Developed from Inuktitut Language Courses - Ellen A. Ahlness & Elizabeth Wessells

9:30 AM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Sherbrooke Pavilion (SH) - Amphitheatre (SH-2800)
Fields such as International Relations and Archeology, while undergoing decolonization practices in the bodies of knowledge they draw from, still overwhelmingly use Eurocentric pedagogical practices in the classrooms. The Socratic method dominates. Synthesizing information is considered a lesser process than analyzing information. Concepts are taught in isolation, neglecting a relatedness approach to education. Each of these features negatively impacts student learning while further entrenching individualistic values in education.

Discussions on facilitating understanding, particularly across cultural and generational lines, frequently reference the need to only communicate in a common language, but with a common vocabulary. Language classrooms are a space where two understanding processes simultaneously take place. First, students are learning to understand another language. Second, students are learning to understand culture-specific patterns of communication and understanding.

Drawing from literature on pedagogical communication strategies in diverse classrooms while extrapolating from a case study of Inuktitut classes at the University of Washington, this presentation offers contrasts in the way social science fields treat understanding while prescribing strategies for the social sciences to learn from language classes. First, social sciences must emphasize a challenge to core-periphery structures, recognizing the intersectional nature of challenges and barriers to success. Second, learning spaces must promote community learning over learning in isolation. Third, and finally, courses must be structured in such a way that identifies the relatedness of the material. Just as all the individual micro-lessons in language-learning come together when an individual speaks, course units should come together in a broader, holistic theme.

University of Washington, Seattle
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