Yellowknife educator picks up award while shaping future of NWT learning

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Yellowknife, NWT – One of the territory’s top educators will pick up a national teaching award in Toronto today.

John Stewart is the director of the territory’s education renewal process, a 10-year project to change and modernize the way education works in the NWT.

But his Indigenous Educator Award, from the educational charity Indspire, mostly relates to his work to improve the way Canada’s residential school history is taught.

Stewart helped to develop a program tailored for the North – the Residential Schools Resource – which is now taught to grade 10 northern studies classes.

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“The materials help students and teachers to understand the history of residential schools within a historical context, within a Canadian context. But really what they are hearing are the shared stories of people who had those experiences,” Stewart told Moose FM before travelling to Ontario to collect the award.

“Beginning to bring schools and communities back together and provide a vehicle for those conversations – that, to me, has been one of the most significant things that we’ve seen. And the research we’ve been conducting as this work has gone along is encouraging – it’s making a difference.”

Stewart began his time in the Northwest Territories almost 30 years ago as an elementary school teacher, before teaching at junior high and high-school level.

In his current role, he is now at the centre of a decade-long initiative to redevelop education in the North.

He’s trying to work out how the NWT’s learning environment should look in the face of continually changing technology.

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“That sense of ‘what is the information that needs to be passed on’ has been a pretty finite resource in the past,” explains Stewart. “So teachers’ job has been to pass that on to young students.

“What’s changed in our world is that information, those answers – and even the questions – are now all around us, all the time.

“Technology is certainly both a cause and a solution to some of those challenges. But really, the role of teacher and the role of learner is where the most exciting changes are under way, I think.”

CJCD Moose FM News – photos courtesy of Department of Education, Culture and Employment

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