A video and story were recently released featuring UW-Madison School of Education alumnus David O’Connor and his important work as the American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The video emphasizes the importance of stories, asking educators to reflect on their own stories, cultures, and histories so they are better equipped to teach about others. O’Connor, who holds a master’s degree from the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, says “having an understanding of who you are and where you come from helps you understand how to teach about communities or cultures that may be different from your own.”
O’Connor focuses on teaching culturally — reaching beyond foods, festivities, heroes, and holidays. To teach culturally, O’Connor recommends that educators learn along with their students, moving along a continuum of the “three I’s”:
- Include: Use a resource or two to support instruction, but lack content.
- Integrate: Build up your content and information for learning with some resources at certain parts of the year.
- Infuse: Take Information and include it throughout the year naturally.
“Don’t look at it from a lens of telling someone else’s story, but telling your story – about why you’re interested in this content,” O’Connor says. “Once we have the opportunity to learn about other communities or people across our state, that’s how we truly understand what Wisconsin is all about.”
In tandem with the video, the DPI shared multiple resources for building knowledge about Wisconsin American Indian Nations and tribal communities. Check out the video and more resources via this Wisconsin DPI web page.
Also visit the Wisconsin First Nations website, which provides educators and pre-service teachers accurate and authentic educational resources for the teaching of the Native Nations of Wisconsin. This website is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, PBS Wisconsin, and the UW-Madison School of Education.