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Beautiful Children

Fourth World Eye Blog

Indigenous knowledge and value

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Western knowledge is a commodity that is sold only to those who can afford access. Young people today look at the internet and think, of course knowledge is free! Look at the web!

But knowledge of any sizable integrity costs. This is true in all societies in one sense. If you seek knowledge from the elders, in my experience, you will not be directly asked to do anything but you will be watched until they trust you. Your words and actions will be known. Then stories and information come forward.

This next insight might surprise some people. In the western academe, professors do not share knowledge openly with all students. It is rare that students actually benefit by the wealth of knowledge inside a professor's head, heart and life experience. Bachelor programs by their very nature recruit large cohorts. Knowledge is shared broadly but not usually in-depth. Masters programs take students who have continued and shown sustained commitment to western learning. Fewer of society's students are involved. Even at this level professors are limited in the knowledge they can share.

Masters research and doctoral students (and bachelor honours students to some degree) may get the 'most' time from a professor overall. But even then, only those who tend to be dedicated to the particular field of research of a professor tend to be 'taken into the circle.' Even then, the road to gaining knowledge contains many pit falls and hurdles to jump.

In contrast, sit with an Aboriginal elder for more than a couple of hours and you will get an ear full about everything under the sun, including a bit about what you are really interested in hearing or learning about. Indirect stories reveal more than you can imagine, and open up the capacity for dreaming and vision. These approaches are not foreign to the western traditions which if we go back far enough are also tribal, Socratic, and philosophic in dimension.

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