What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom began as a student project, led by Karrmen Crey and Amy Perreault in 2007. The focus of the original project explored difficult discussions of Indigenous issues that took place in classrooms at UBC during this time. The project examined how the challenges talking about race works as an educational barrier within the classroom for students, particularly Indigenous students. Students who participated in the project and others who did not, frequently reported troubling and traumatic discussions of cultural issues in the class, where these situations often affected their ability to function in their coursework, as learners, and their ability to return to the class. The impetus for the original project was to create a space for dialogue around these troubling issues in the classroom and also to create an archive of the experiences that students were having in the classroom at UBC in order to better inform teaching practices and institutional policies.
Since then the project has informed various strategic initiatives at UBC such as the 2009 Aboriginal Strategic Plan and the focus on classroom climate and the creation of a new role within UBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology focusing on Indigenous curriculum, instructional support resource design and delivery. Alongside these changes, there were also a number of events and initiatives that shifted the conversation about Indigenous histories and contemporary realities and broadened the general public’s knowledge of these issues such as Idle Know More, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) proceedings in Vancouver and the opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC .
Although the areas involving Indigenous engagement have gained more momentum within Canadian post-secondary institutions since these events, the experiences represented in the educational resource, What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom, still remains as a reality within classrooms today. Recently, CTLT Indigenous Initiatives received a small grant to reboot the What I Learned in Class Today project looking at similar challenges in the
classroom but eleven years later, since the original project came into development. The outcomes and research findings of the reboot of this project explores looking at the classroom climate regarding Indigenous students and students that are in courses of study focused on Indigenous topics and ways in which the UBC-V campus and classroom climate has changed in the past eleven years. The project is currently at its’ preliminary stages, undergoing ethics approval and conducting a literature review. Stay tuned for more updates as the reboot comes into fruition!