Welcome to Episode 54 of the Think UDL podcast: Supporting Indigenous Culture with Liz Stone. I first learned of Liz Stone through our UDLHE group when she presented a pop-up session virtually to our members all over the world. Liz Stone is, among many other things, the Academic Chair, Indigenous Studies at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. In just a moment I’ll ask her to introduce herself so that you can hear in her own voice and in her first language who she is. Today our conversation touches on Edward Hall’s cultural iceberg as it relates to teaching and learning. Additionally, we will discuss emotion and experience and discuss how and why we should value things such as holistic learning in which we engage the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional parts of our brain. We will talk about the importance of intersectionality, stories, relationships, and the environment to our constant state of learning and also about credentials and what they might mean and what we value and why it matters. Thank you for listening to this conversation on Universal Design for Learning and culture, specifically what we can learn from each other and from indigenous values and culture.
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Liz suggests reading about the Indigenous education and UDL with these three articles:
This transcript was auto-generated and may have slight inaccuracies. A corrected transcript will be posted as soon as possible.
Lillian Nave 00:00
Welcome to think UDL, the universal design for learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian Nave. And I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters. Welcome to Episode 54 of the think UDL podcast supporting indigenous culture with Liz stone. I first learned of Liz stone through our UDL he which is universal design for learning in higher education group, when she presented a pop up session virtually to our members all over the world. Liz stone is among many other things, the academic Chair of Indigenous Studies at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. In just a moment, I’ll ask her to introduce herself, so that you can hear in her own voice and in her first language who she is. Today, our conversation touches on Edward Hall’s cultural iceberg as it relates to teaching and learning. Additionally, we will discuss emotion and experience and discuss how and why we should value things such as holistic learning, in which we engage the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional parts of our brain. We will talk about the importance of intersectionality stories, relationships and the environment to our constant state of learning, and also about credentials and what they might mean and what we value and why it all matters. Thank you for listening to this conversation on universal design for learning and culture. Specifically, what we can learn from each other and from indigenous values and culture. On today’s podcast, I have the pleasure of talking to Liz stone of Fleming college. And I instead of introducing her I wanted to ask my colleague Liz if she might introduce herself so welcome to the think UDL podcast Liz.
Liz Stone 02:25
Thank you.[Liz Stone’s own introduction in her native language. So my name is Liz. I live I’m from Armstrong and dasuki. So I’m drawn in English as two boys of Sonia, First Nation and Canada. And then ice is odawa little traverse Bay in Michigan. So I have dual affiliation. Yeah, I’m dual affiliation, I guess that’s that’s where that is. And no longer wanting megawide Oda means I live here in Peterborough. Traditionally, it’s called Nova xuanzong, a place where the rapids are or a place where at the end of the rapids, and I’m turtle clan, which is, in my biased opinion, the best plan ever. And I work at Fleming College, where I am the academic Chair of job general arts and sciences, as well as indigenous perspective. So it’s a role that is very awesome and fits well with general arts and sciences and those foundations to academics.
Lillian Nave 03:47
So what were those languages that you were speaking in the very beginning,
Liz Stone 03:51
I was speaking in a moment. So that’s the original language. So I also explained that I am odawa, and lineal and operating in English that some Ojibwe and Delaware. And so for me, it’s all about your family connections, your family ties, and relational to your territory. So I acknowledged that my matches my matrilineal side are my maternal side is Delaware. But my father’s side is anishnaabe Bay, which is patrilineal. So that’s the language that I attend to speak, it’s not always great, because it’s nobody, not too many people speak English, and I made my way. So it’s like any language, if you’re not using it constantly, you lose it. So I always make a point of at least introducing myself and honoring where my my my learnings and my experiences and all of those things come from. And it’s a way that we connect personally. So even before I mentioned, where I work, I mentioned where I’m from. I mentioned my clan, I mentioned my family, all of those things. And so for me, that’s a really big A big part of our conversation today is making those personal connections with the people that are in the virtual room with me.
Lillian Nave 05:07
It’s so important, it is so important. And usually I make an introduction, and I was so impressed by your introduction, I came into contact with sort of your orbit through our UDL, higher ed SIG, special interest group UDL higher ed. And you gave a really great supporting culture through UDL, talk and wanted to follow up with you. And I think our learners or listeners can learn quite a lot from from what do you have to say, and those connections to and intersections with universal design for learning. So we also to be accessible, we want to provide a transcript for all of our talks, our podcast episodes, so I might be contacting you to to make sure we are spelling these words, right when we send it off for our transcript, because we want to honor that language and honor that as well. Okay,
Liz Stone 06:03
that’s actually a really great kind of segue. Because initially, I’ll be more than and indigenous languages in North America were written. And so it was all about the listener and the learner, remembering how how it is said, and having a relationship with those sounds in the way that worked for them, and met them where they’re at. So a lot of people when they’re writing the language, and it’s not a mo in other languages, they do it phonetically.
Lillian Nave 06:33
Wow. And, you know, that makes me think of a whole subject about this is how we value certain things, written language versus oral language. So, so much in higher ed culture, the idea is written, written, written, and the idea of maybe submitting a podcast, you know, or a video as a final project, or as a graded project that isn’t written is a value judgment, really, you know, we value this type of language, and in this particular medium, and that’s based on cultural assumptions, really, and so bringing, that’s why I really just wanted to talk to you, we got a lot to talk about today. Okay, so I’m going to start with the same question I asked all my listeners, and that is what makes you a different kind of learner.
Liz Stone 07:25
So for myself, and and I believe that I’m a proven product that proves it is, for me, holistic, learning holistic with a W is super, super important. And that’s how I learned, I learned by hearing, I learned by feeling and acknowledging the emotions that are triggered. In my learning, I am by feeling by listening by. Yeah, whole self. So if you are looking at a medicine wheel, from a very basic place, it’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. And for me, when I learned, I’m learning from all of those places, and I’m processing and continually adding to that for a long time. It’s not about learning a whole bunch of steps and memorizing them and then being able to regurgitate them. It’s about what does this mean to me? And how is it relational? I think that’s what makes me different. There. It’s not, I think there’s a lot of people that learn in that way, then we have to have those, it’s those neat little rhymes that come with acronyms. It’s those feelings and oh, that that, that understanding kind of annoys me like, fingers on a chalkboard. So that’s we’re relating it to an experience a feeling that we’re having. So that’s, for me, that’s the best kind of learning, I need to experience it I need to feel for myself, and hearing what somebody else’s experiences doesn’t give me that wholesome or whole view, whole understanding.
Lillian Nave 09:12
You know, that’s something I’ve really come in contact with a lot lately, especially that how we need to associate emotion with learning and how important that is. And the work I’ve really come in contact with lately is a woman named Mary Helen, Mr. Dino Yang, who talks about how important and has researched and studied how we need to connect that emotional side to our learning that’s important for for everybody. And I know how important it is either positive or negative emotions really affects how I am going to understand something. So I really do appreciate that and bringing that to our listeners as well. Okay, so the the next part I want us to begin with this conversation is an idea that you and I are comfortable. With, which is the cultural iceberg and thinking about some body, anybody’s culture is something that we can only see a little bit like the things that we can experience with our five senses touch, taste, smell, we can see people going to a ritual, we can see the light, we can hear the language that they speak, we can taste the food that they prepare, those are all parts of someone’s culture. But there are so many things that are underneath the surface. assumptions, ideas, values, beliefs, things like you know, we can hear a language but we don’t necessarily know that it’s a written versus an oral language, you know, when we hear it, those are the kind of things that would be underneath what we value underneath the surface. So I’d like to ask you, what are some of the things that are above the surface in your cultural background, and some that are below and kind of explain a little bit about that?
Liz Stone 10:56
Sure. So culture, the cultural iceberg is something I believe that was adapted through therapeutic therapeutic practices and professions, where we talk about feelings, right? It’s like, these are the ones that we can see, we can see somebody’s face when they’re happy, when they’re angry, and going a little bit further than how they carry themselves when they’re feeling good, and not necessarily expressing it as noticeably. And then deeper and deeper and deeper. For cultural, if we were to apply that principle to cultural beliefs, understandings, ways of being knowledge, then it’s it’s quite a bit differently. And I’m going to keep going with that the language example that we’re using. So when we when we you asked me to introduce myself, and then asked me to explain it in the language, I choose it out in the language. And so that’s what you heard. So that’s the very tip of the iceberg. So what you experienced was something new, was sounds that maybe you haven’t heard placed together in that particular way. Otherwise, you would be able to understand that what you also may have experienced, and this is getting a little bit deeper is the emotion that I put behind some of those words. So and then asking questions, you go even a little bit further underneath the surface. And we talked about initial emotion not being a written language, originally, and most, if not all, of the traditional languages in North America not being written. And so now when, when I’m asked to teach somebody something, or to share something, or when somebody teaches me a new word in the language, I write it out phonetically. And I often will encourage other people to write it out phonetically. And it’s interesting, because I know we’re on an audio version here. But right next to me, I have one of my son’s books. And it’s an economic one that his father wrote for a minute, everything’s phonetic. And it was, it’s kind of how we get a little bit deeper, but you have to be have a relationship established, and that you’re comfortable with diving a little bit deeper. And so I was comfortable and telling you, well, it’s not a written language. So if we were to go even farther, deeper into the water, per se, and farther down into that cultural iceberg, those things that you can’t even talk, you don’t even understand, I guess, or I don’t understand or aren’t necessarily a part of common knowledge is the sounds in language and the meaning that they bring to it. So it takes a long time for learners, language learners, to get to that place where they can understand and relate to different sounds. One of the very first words I learned and initially a moment, because I wasn’t raised to know the language, I’ve been learning it and that’s historical context. But one of the very first words I learned was actually a shotgun. And it means a shaker. So if you think are a rattle, if you think about that sound and I’m going to make this sound hopefully you can pick it up. So I’m rubbing my hands together. And that’s the sound and it’s relational to shisha gun was the first word and when you dive way deeper into the language into those far reaches of the iceberg, the cultural iceberg, what you will learn is that sound is is relational to our creation story. And initially, I have a creation story. So the very first sound and when Jim Nadeau created all of all of life and all of the things that was the sound that We heard that was the very first sound. And if we were to think of it in different ways, that sound is everywhere in creation, it’s in a waterfall, it’s in rocks moving together, it’s in us getting dressed and pulling our clothes. In it, what it means is there’s life, that sound brings with it life. So when I hear that sound, and connect it to Shogun, and connect it to that creation story, then I know when I hear that sound in a word, that it’s all about something that’s living, all about something that has life in it, so it really, really dives deeper into learning and dives deeper into the meanings of sounds. So I hope you’re able to pick that up that sound. So that’s that’s part that’s a really big part, I guess, in relation to Western pedagogy or Western foundations of academics as languages is right there. Right? So if we’re thinking about indigenous culture, language is you hear people say language is living. But that’s kind of where they stand is because it’s really hard to translate all of those meaning and those experiences. So I couldn’t just tell you, that sound means life, I had to make those connections for you that whole connection. And again, we just took that dive down farther into looking at that iceberg. So hopefully, that makes sense.
Lillian Nave 16:35
Absolutely, yeah, that was absolutely beautiful. I love hearing how deeply you went in that iceberg. So in continuing along with how important cultural background is, I wanted to ask you, and we’d love to hear you if you would tell us about your cultural background, and how that has shaped your views of and your attitude towards pedagogy.
Liz Stone 17:02
Yeah, so Well, I’ve already identified as indigenous anishnaabe, banned Monday will not pay the other part of culture that beyond race and ethnicity, that really shaped who I am. And what I how I do things is that as community intersectional intersectionality, as far as relationships go, so in my understanding of relationships, so we have this word called a kin emotion, and what it means is, my what my relationship to the land is. So our understanding of relationships and how I learn is exactly how I was raised with acknowledging that I have a relationship with animals, I have a relationship with bugs, I have a relationship with the river with all of those things. And that I’m in constant in a constant state of learning, I’ll never be an expert, I’ll never be no matter how many degrees or certificates or any of those things, not one person will ever be an expert, I will never be an expert. And I always have something to learn. So that’s very, very different than Western ideology. It’s very different. Because there’s a finish line, there’s, there’s always a finish line. And we’re always striving to get up there. And it’s a very individualized, it’s very all about me, me, I did this, I did this, I spent this much money doing this, and I craft dinner for eight years in order to get this done. And that really is attributed to the type of person that I am the type, the type of ethic that I have. I said a work ethic, a casual ethic, or any of those things, is really about that and makes me an expert, with indigenous ways of learning and my culture is that we’re very, very, humility is super, super important. So I would never call myself an expert. I would never acknowledge myself as a leader, or any of those things. It actually has to be other people, people that are asking me or acknowledging that by by asking me to do a podcast by asking me to speak on on different issues. Whether it’s indigenous justice or indigenous ways of learning, indigenous ways of being what our relationships, all of those things. And it’s, it’s really attributed to the culture that I grew up with. I grew up in a culture of community. I grew up in a culture of constant learning. Sometimes the hard way so Sometimes a nice gentle way. But acknowledging those things. So for me when I go in and so where we first met, was that a workshop, a seminar, a conference, whatever pop
Lillian Nave 20:13
up, yes, yeah,
Liz Stone 20:15
pop up session about cultural, cultural understanding and how it’s related to Universal Design for Learning, or cultural responsive pedagogy. And for me, it’s, it’s, it was acknowledged, that’s how I teach. That’s how I learn. That’s what really comes easy for me. And a very, very, very good fit with Universal Design for Learning, where the very good fit for cultural responsive pedagogy, it’s all about meeting people where they’re at. So when I was learning, within my family, I came from a family that on one side was very, very rich and knowledgeable on traditional governance practices. And on the other side of the family, I would call it in the enact governance. So governance and politics and understanding as it relates to our shared histories. And putting those things together gave me a really unique understanding and learning environment. That was very fluid, very flexible, very organic, and, and puts me in a place I believe, of learning in a way that a lot of other people haven’t had the privilege or experience of, of learning that way. Does that make sense? For me, every one of us right where you are raised, where you have chosen to go to school, where you have chosen to raise your family, where whether you’ve chosen to have a family, all of those things contribute to what kind of learner we are, if we’re thinking about it from how I kind of felt my way through life, and learning.
Lillian Nave 22:05
Yeah, you know, you bring up that big difference, or kind of pulling the veil off of looking at the Academy, where we are in the Western world, in, in Europe and America, in that system, it is credentials first. And and that means you’re valuable, in many ways, that’s sort of below the iceberg is that assumption, or feeling that depending on either where you went, or how many degrees or which degree, there’s been recent debates about, you know, an odd degree versus a PhD versus an MD, and who gets to call you a doctor or not, and, and what sort of clout goes with each one of those things. And it’s it gosh, it takes up a lot of our brain space, and in in many of that, those underlying assumptions that we bring into it. And I really appreciate how you’re offering another way to look at these ways of learning and how we consider ourselves as learners. And that’s really not something that is often touted, which is I will never be an expert. In fact, we only want to hear from experts. And that is the the idea that your our students want to hear from just the expert, they don’t want to hear from each other, you know, what are these other knuckleheads doing in the class or something, I want to hear from this person who’s been told or has been deemed the expert. And it’s just a very different organization kind of a top down rather than wide variety.
Liz Stone 23:49
One of the things I think I shared it in the pop up session, but I may not have because it was such a tight timeline was I I’m an academic Chair of institution and academia, I, I speak at many different places, research days, and all kinds of things and partner and a lot of academic things. I stopped short of calling myself an academic. Because to me that has, again, a bit of an expert, or saying I did this and I did this and I did this, and I hesitate to call myself an academic not because of how I was raised. I hesitate to call myself an academic because of how I got to where I am at, in academia. So the conventional way, or the common way, or the most recognized way, is to go to university for decades, right? Yes, to publish all kinds of things and to acknowledge the things well, well, I haven’t done those things. And I’ve kind of worked my way through and even when applying for jobs and in institutions, I’ve gotten the jobs, I’m here. But after getting the jobs, the people that have hired me have asked me, well, if can we entice you? Can we say, well do this if you go and get this degree? And I say, Well, how about we take my probationary time? And you are really thinking about, can I do this job? And I’m really thinking about, can I do this job the way they want me to do it. And then at the end of the year, we come back and we revisit this. And almost every job that I’ve applied for and gotten, they’ve asked me about that. And at the end of the probationary time, I say, okay, so I like this job. I think I’m doing it well. I’d like to talk about, you know, your usual stuff, you negotiate your salaries and benefits and all of those things. And they don’t ever bring that up again with me. Well, they don’t ever say. So if we’re willing to pay for you to go to university, will you do it? They don’t ever say that. But I make a point, probably a little bit of passive aggressiveness. And they say so above that recommendation, that that I go to university, because you’re afraid that I might not have the skills needed to do this job? in a good way. How do you feel about that now? Because it is a deal breaker for me, I can continue to do what I’m doing and doing well. Or I can take a few years off and go to university? Yeah, and and most often times have say, Oh, no, no, no, you’re good. And so for me, it’s I mentioned it, never being an expert, and not identifying myself as an academic, is not a way to kind of push or rebel against that system. But in turn, and kind of reversing it, is to acknowledge the relevance of my learning. That it’s, it’s just as good as, and I hesitate again, to use the term validate. But it is there, it’s there to validate my learning and my teaching. But at the same time, I purposely it’s a conscious decision of mine, to push back at that, and, and not because I’m, I’m defiant, but I push back because it’s what I do, and how I’ve learned and all of those generations of teachings and, and being that that I was blessed to receive are good, are good. And they’re there. And people are picking it up now. And they’re meeting each other where they’re at. So, wow,
Lillian Nave 27:49
yeah, that is moving and changing the system in, you know, your area, where you are, and helping also me and my listeners helping us to think differently to I know, there are a lot of us who are non tenure track who are and that’s what I am. And I worked forever as an adjunct before I even got a three quarter time position. And then finally, a full time position after I stopped to have children, you know, 20 years ago, and then didn’t have, you know, the right, the right things to get me to the places that I thought I was supposed to be at least right. And yeah, so I really appreciate that perspective quite a bit. And I think one of the that’s one of the things I’ve loved about universal design for learning, there are many paths, there are many paths, and we need to really honor those, those different ways of being and seeing and see that Hmm, I guess, you know, somebody really can bring something to our university to this class to what we’re doing. Who who might come from a different background, or credential system or something like that?
Liz Stone 28:57
Yeah, for sure.
Lillian Nave 28:58
So I guess in addition to let’s push that just a little further, my question was about that inner intersection of indigenous pedagogy, and academia that we’re just talking about. So how do you see UDL fitting into that? I guess, multiple options, or how does UDL fit into that?
I guess. Yeah. As
Lillian Nave 29:22
we’ve been talking about. Yeah.
Liz Stone 29:24
I think Universal Design for Learning fits really, really phenomenally. Actually. It’s, it’s about meeting people where they’re at, it’s about making sure that nobody gets left behind. Every if somebody needs a bigger box to stand on, and they then you get a bigger box for them to stand on. It’s it’s about all of those things. Which I think is important when I first started working and in post secondary. I was hired at a really short little contract and I I was lucky to be placed into learning design and support team. Because my job was how do we thoughtfully or actually they didn’t even use the term thoughtfully How do you incorporate indigenous stuff into curriculum, because that’s kind of the whole push here and, and the northern part of Turtle Island. And so I don’t know that they counted on really universal design and cultural curriculum, meaning when they hired me, and I didn’t count on it. Honestly, I was like, what works. But the people that I worked with that I suddenly got parachuted into this team, was it was all about universal design for learning was all about curriculum mapping and making sure that we scaffold and when we needed to, and all about, what if this person in the class or there’s this person in the Spirit who have we lucked out who have who’s getting left behind. And so for me, it was a really natural fit. And instantly, I was placed in a group of really broad thinkers that, that matched with me. And none of them were indigenous. And I was like, Whoa, this is this is awesome. And so that relationship, and that learning, really just fed off of it, we all just fed off of each other, which was phenomenal. So that meeting people where they’re at is a really big part of where those, those things are the same, or they support each other. What I would say is, they even experienced the same sort of oppression within institution. So a lot of people when when you say Universal Design for Learning, the first place that they go to is accessibility, right? And mobility services. It’s all about disability, not gifts, not different abilities. But it’s all about disability. It’s all about what do we need to do and checkbox checkbox checkbox. And so for me as an indigenous person, Universal Design for Learning and indigenous pedagogy, or indigenous knowledge and learning, we’re experiencing similar things as far as being minimized being just placed here, because they had to be. And so the history of universal design for learning is very similar to indigenous pedagogy and indigenous ways of learning and knowing that it’s been pigeon put in these little pigeon holes and placed in these little areas and never really gotten the opportunity to be given and shown its freedom to be its full self, right? Or for anybody to say, Hey, what about this? What about Yes, endogenous or universal design for learning works here? Why doesn’t it work here? Why would you know when given that opportunity, so the same thing for indigenous pedagogy? I was really, really humbled at one point, when I started teaching, and I was standing outside of a classroom, and I was thinking, you know, I’m pretty good. I can meet people where they I can relate to a lot of people because I was raised this way. And then all of a sudden, I looked up, and I seen a security guard, walking a student down the hall. And I’m like, Huh, what’s going on there, you know, just waiting for my class, the class before mine to end. And the students that was being escorted, was, I was blind. And the panic, and the anxiety, then it’s set inside of me as a as a learner as an educator. I was like, okay, for indigenous ways of being and learning, it’s about experiencing things. I’ve never experienced this before. And there’s a gap here, what am I going to do? How am I going to handle this? And I, I was, I was, I was really panicked, honestly. And I’m a pretty competent person, I figure I can just talk to somebody and find things out and learn, take every opportunity as a way to learn. But I also felt a huge sense of relief when security guard walked the student past my classroom and into the next. Wow. So in that another person might think, okay, who dodged that one? But for me in that moment, how do I how do I handle this? And I said, well, Universal Design for Learning. Why am I really counting on my visuals? Why am I making sure that the writing is all good for everybody and that it’s not these not using all kinds of unhealthy visuals or I’m the sound or this, that whatever, I’ve really forgotten something. And for me at that point, it was the blending of indigenous pedagogy in the blend with Universal Design for Learning that gave me the skills and the opportunity to handle that. And just because that student wasn’t in my class didn’t mean it, let me off the hook, I really, really started pulling those things together and saying, Okay, if this happens, what if in an upper semester, that student chooses to take one of my classes, so taking it a bit further, and so that’s, that was a real good place where those worlds met, that I needed to take a look at. And as you can notice, I tell lots of stories to demonstrate what I’m talking about. And again, that’s another big piece of indigenous pedagogy in Universal Design for Learning, it’s taking and meeting meeting people were there.
Lillian Nave 35:55
You know, you, as you were telling that story, it was all about your emotions you were feeling and what you were thinking, and that changed your pedagogy that changed the way you were going to be teaching how important that is, and how we often try to slide that away, and not pay attention to those emotions. And they really, really are important and should be valued. Oftentimes, I found and I did forever think there’s only the cognitive part that we need to be paying attention to, not the affective part. And that was just wrong. Like, if they’re, they’ll remember things for the test, and then leave it behind if it’s just in the cognitive part.
Liz Stone 36:34
Well, somebody taught us a long time ago, then emotions were personal. And then further taught us to say you keep personal and professional separate. That’s, that’s the best way to do things. And so it’s about unpacking things and relearning things, and and doing that helping to do that further to be more effective at what we do. Yeah.
Lillian Nave 36:56
Oh, my goodness. I’m just I’m learning so much recently about how important that UDL is. And I’m, I’m just sort of experiencing it in many different ways as I’m get to interview lots of people and learn how, just how ubiquitous it is, and, and how many connections we can make. So like one of the things you just mentioned was about how universal design made you rethink how you were teaching and what was important to you. And UDL, I think disrupts the culture of academia, in in offering lots of options, and in valuing different things or saying it’s okay to value. Other things. Like let’s say, the non written word, mate, we talked about that before. Yeah. So do you have any thoughts on that? And how UDL disrupts the culture of academia?
Liz Stone 37:55
Yeah, yeah, I think for sure. And does it disrupt things? It did at the very beginning, beginning of when we talked about UDL and accessibility. And that’s kind of I think, where people clung to it, and really made those hard connections between accessibility and UDL is because when it was introduced, so there is pushback and everything introduced by by an architect, writer builder, and it’s like, how does this? How does this even fit in academics or in institution or learning, higher learning? And when so there was that, that push right back and forth. And then when the connections were made it disrupted right there. This person doesn’t have a doctorate and an education or philosophy or any of these things they they have, they’re an engineer for crying out loud, how can they speak to education. So it disrupted right from the very beginning. And now I think with the growth of it, and the maturity of it, it’s coming full circle around again, and it needs to disrupt again, it needs to disrupt by saying this UDL should be thought about not just in the classroom and not just in our resources for for learning, in written word or any any of those things or the the size of our doorways or anything like that. It should actually be looked at in services and student services that should be looked at and when we build our institutions, it should be looked at during this time of crisis during COVID-19. Why Why aren’t we looking at Universal Design for Learning when we’re creating contingency plans, or any of those things because it’s so so very important, how it’s beginning to be acknowledged, which at me as a grassroots person in case it needs to be pushed more and we need to disrupt more is when Universal Design for Learning specialists or Are people identified or given the non in institution are invited to those tables, those contingency planning tables, those strategically planned tables, academic plan tables, all of those things. So we as educators with that background, whether it’s universal design for learning, or indigenous learning and knowledge, or cultural responsive pedagogy, whatever that is, need to push for our place there. Because we’re going to be the one to disrupt the conversation, which in turn will disrupt other things, right. So it’s super, super important. I will say, though, they’re in keeping grounded in humility. There’s also just like any living thing, there’s the opportunity for for us to hold each other back. And that lateral kind of violence, and, and really being judgmental, so that being humble and and practicing humility, and our knowledge about universal design for learning is important in the way that there’s all kinds of people that write about UDL, there’s all kinds of people that practice it in different ways. And I think we spend too much time in identifying which ways right. And when we kind of tear each other down and how we use UDL. That’s lateral violence. And instead of lifting each other up, we fall right back into that Western or colonial way of doing things and saying it has to be done this way. Otherwise, it’s wrong. It’s not valid. It’s not. When if we look right back to the engineer, creating this phenomenal learning tool, then it’s very easy to say, we need to meet where we’re at. And my community is very different than your community, or the community in which I live is very different than the one that I lived in 40 years ago. So one form of UDL, or one interpretation of the UDL is no worse or no better than the other.
Lillian Nave 42:09
Yeah. Now you’re getting into another question, which is the UDL you have said before, you’ve mentioned that UDL is a flexible fluid plan. And I wanted to ask you how that relates to to indigenous pedagogy.
Liz Stone 42:23
And that’s the way indigenous indigenous learning and knowledge is it’s very, very fluid. Very, very organic, and meeting people where where they’re at. When we talk about assessment specifically. We assess things and indigenous pedagogy and in UDL differently, it’s not about is it a written quiz? Is that a verbal quiz? Is it a presentation is that what are the learning outcomes is that a photo narrative, you know, it’s in, in western ideology. It’s one way and that’s it. If you write a 5000 word essay, essay, you hand it in an APA format at this time, to this Dropbox, or uploaded here, or whatever. And if you don’t do that, to the best, or to the exact parameters, then you lose marks. Right. And it’s so for UDL, and for indigenous pedagogy, where they meet where they complement each other is if this student needs to come and talk to me, in my office, outside of the classroom, for whatever reason, if it’s work, if it’s family, if it’s anxiety, if it’s any of those things, then I make the space for that student to come and have a conversation with me. And instead of asking those direct questions, that I need them to regurgitate back to me, I have a conversation with them and really prompt them to to practice what what learning outcomes are? Do they know how to have respectful relationships with indigenous people? Do they know how to get somebody from A to B safely? Do they think those things and that’s what’s important. It’s not about if they got 65 or 70 on a midterm exam. It’s not about if they presented for between 15 and 20 minutes and stayed within that timeframe. It’s all about meeting people where they’re at. And that’s where those places are in that’s being that flexible fluid and there’s a lot of educators and learners that are really uncomfortable with that. When I when I was teaching, there were students that were just they were totally upset. They they filed complaints because I said, How do you want to present this? What works for you? They’re like, No, no, no, you have to tell me how many words how many words I need to know in what format? And I was just like, well, as long as I can read it. And actually, if you just want to talk to me about it, that’s cool, too. They’re like, no, and how are you going to assess me differently than you assess that person? I said, it’s not different. I’m just making sure that you’re meeting these needs. It doesn’t matter how many words they speak compared to how many right? So yeah,
Lillian Nave 45:33
yeah, you know, that, that makes people very uncomfortable. Oh, yeah. And I, you know, even in, let’s go back to the very beginning, as you introduced yourself, you were speaking language, I don’t know, I’ve never, you know, heard except for when you’ve introduced yourself before. And I’m uncomfortable when I don’t know, something. And that is, I think that also goes along with the value of never being an expert of always learning. And so moving that pointer or the pendulum a little bit more towards, we don’t necessarily have to have all the answers, but we have to be comfortable with ambiguity, is one of those intercultural competencies that I’m learning a lot about, as I’m going into that field as well, and helping students to deal with ambiguity and to persevere through it, and to maybe take some risk and gain some valuable skills, to address ambiguity and to address their own feelings, when they get into a situation that makes them uncomfortable. And all of that is part of learning too. We just haven’t really quantified that, you know,
Liz Stone 46:49
and being being accountable and empowered further learning. That’s the thing, right? So it’s, it’s not that any ambiguity is necessary or even appropriate in all situations. But in order to empower somebody to meet them where they’re at, then you need to empower them and leave that open for them to define what their educational experience and what their learning looks like. Because it’s going to define what type of employee they’re how happy they are with their career, do they have a career or a job? Right, it’s really, really going to help and give them the skills and the tools to be able to make those decisions. And the way we we frame things now, like I said, APA format, this many words are speaking for this length of time, we don’t empower them to ask questions. Everything is there step by step by step sometimes like our syllabus, our instructions, our assessment descriptions, they give everything? The answer is all right there. And it’s like, there’s no room for questions. There’s no room for curiosity, there’s no room for any of those things. So that That, to me is really cutting off a great opportunity for learning.
Lillian Nave 48:10
Yeah, and if you value those things, right, if you value questions, or being able to ask questions or curiosity, then you want to, you know, provide ways for your students to display that or show that. And I must say, many of the things you’ve said in the last five minutes or so it makes me think of another person, I’ve interviewed Cate denial who’s brought a pedagogy of kindness. And that really talks about speaking to the whole student, the way you said, bring them into office hours or student hours, you know, talk to them about things that are that they’ve got issues or problems that they want to talk about. And maybe it’s not entirely with the class itself, that you’re actually acknowledging the whole person, you’re of the student, that the student is a real, fully developed person, not just a brain, and dealing with that whole person. And that’s important. Emotions are important. All of those parts of the human life and experience are important to learning. And I think UDL does value that and says we need to work on cognitive and emotional and affective and all of those things. It’s the glue that’s sort of holding it all together. And, you know, I’ve we’ve been sort of talking about UDL as a way that connects everything and and it’s similar in many ways, if you have you that you have just brought to me, similar to indigenous pedagogy. And I wanted to ask, how do you see UDL as a catalyst for more change? We’ve seen it as a disrupter. And what do you see, as well as being a catalyst.
Liz Stone 49:58
I think that Right now it’s like it’s a perfect storm in our time right now. And I hate to bring it back to COVID-19. But it is it’s a perfect storm. It is like right now there’s so many institutions, looking for answers and looking for frameworks and looking for plans and strategies and everything, of living and learning in our new reality. And for me, I see UDL as being that catalyst to change, and not just the catalysts, but actually part of the foundation or the pillars of moving moving forward of how people need to learn. We’ve had such a crisis after crisis after crisis for learning and for our institutions, if it wasn’t to how do we teach Not, not face to face? Not on site, then it’s like, okay, we all did a great big hard turn to online. And then it’s like, how do we teach synchronous versus asynchronous? So then we did a hard turn there and said, We need this much percent synchronous, maybe this much percent asynchronous. So then all of a sudden, it’s hybrid. And then we think about international learners and and all of a sudden, our laws are affected, right? How much percent needs to be face to face for them? How many months do they need to have been on the ground in our respective countries? And, and now, we’re talking about satellite campuses and other countries and things like that. So for me, there’s so much opportunity for a UDL to be the catalyst of doing all of all of those things, right. Yeah, and not just for profits, the highest profit, or not just for the quickest, get people in, turn them out, turn them out. But to do it, right, to do it authentically, and to do it with humility. That’s, that’s a really big connector for me, is humility, to acknowledge Universal Design for Learning, and acknowledge that we’re not experts and to do it. Well, you need to have humility, right? I don’t know everything. And so we don’t know everything about our time now. And so for me UDL really has that opportunity to be change, to push change in partnership with cultural responsive pedagogy and, and cultural indigenous ways of being whatever indigenous is for, for a specific territory. So that’s my caveat.
Lillian Nave 52:49
Yes. Yeah. Oh, so you we think of so many things, when we are kind of moving forward? And yes, we have to keep going back to COVID-19. It has been the biggest disruption to higher ed that I can ever even think of. And to move forward, there are many voices that are saying Universal Design for Learning is absolutely essential. And I really appreciated that you said that UDL and coordinators are specialists are the people on your campus that are in the UDL or know about it should be at the table. When we’re thinking about curriculum, when we’re thinking about programs, when we’re thinking about all of those questions you were just bringing up. And I have really appreciated being a part at least at our institution that UDL was brought in when we’re trying to help our faculty and move online and do all of those things, because it does have to be a foundation, I think, you know, for for moving forward. And I wanted to ask, I guess my last question is a little bit different. In that we have seen and we’ve been talking about how UDL and indigenous pedagogy really meld well together and have a similar sort of background in history. So I wanted to ask, what can UDL and its guidelines and its implementation? What can UDL learn from indigenous pedagogy?
Liz Stone 54:18
I think I think although UDL is fluid, and as organic and is flexible, I think that what it can learn to be is, is more organic and more flexible and more fluid as far as pulling other things in, like indigenous pedagogy like cultural responsive learning or any of those things. And it kind of goes back to that, that way of humility and being latterly unhealthy as saying there has to be one way and it’s all about those areas that are have to fight their way. AP, right? That crab in the bucket kind of symbolism where, you know, I’m going to have to pull myself up before I can pull anybody else up. And I’m going to climb over people to get there. So for me, it’s about acknowledging and lifting up other areas right along with us, for example, and in our institution, where I’m at, and in Ontario, and in Canada, in general, everything indigenous in education is kind of the hot button right now. And so I have a really great opportunity. And so that a lot of tables, and to make, I don’t know, make change to offer my advice, or my experience or those things. So what I do is every opportunity, I say, not only is indigenous pedagogy important in this situation, but Universal Design for Learning is right here with us. And you can acknowledge one without acknowledging the other. And so for me, it’s using that privilege of where I’m at, to lift up. And so for me, it’s, it’s those people and institutions that are, have identified and prioritized Universal Design for Learning, it’s their responsibility to lift up other ways of learning, and other ways of doing other forms of knowledge. At the same time, as they’re enjoying the freedom, a little bit of freedom, right, a little bit of privilege. So that to me, to me, I guess that’s really important is that we’re not choosing one over the other, we’re lifting each other up and acknowledging that it may not work for one person, but this might, and vice versa.
Lillian Nave 56:45
You know, when we’ve been talking so much about being an expert, and the kind of the other end of that spectrum is continuously being a novice like knowing that you there’s more to learn, I think of our UDL guidelines that say the purpose of UDL is to become an expert, learner, not an expert, but an expert learner that we are continuously putting those emotions, feelings, ideas, and pathways in, in motion, over and over again, to be better learners to learn more, continuously learn more, that there isn’t a you are an expert, you are the definitive voice. You You’re done, in essence, but that you are a continuous learner. And that is the goal. The goal is to be a continuous learner. And I think we’ve got so much to learn from each other that, you know, we we should be pulling each other in to the table and continuing to move higher ed and, and learning in general, forward. I think we’re poised to do that. So thank you so much, Liz. I really, I really enjoyed talking to you, and talking have our listeners hear about this. So thank you so much. We’ll make sure we’ve got as best as we can our transcript for today’s episode. And the information that we were able to talk about, we’ll put in resources on our webpage. But thank you so much, Liz for joining me today on the think UDL podcast.
Lillian Nave 58:40
You can follow the think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the think udl.org website. The think UDL podcast is made possible by college star the star stands for supporting transition, access and retention in post secondary settings, and the website provides free resources and instructional aides based on UDL principles. If you’d like to know more, go to the college star.org website. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw in Appalachia. The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David pate, Bill falwell and Jose coach as our sound engineer is Tanner Jones and I am your host, Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on the think UDL podcast.