Margaret Mead; place-based environmental education; Land-based education; decolonization; Indigenous pedagogy; land acknowledgments; school theory; curriculum theory

Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy


Teaching for Social Justice in a Highly Politicized Historical Moment


In her 1943 article “Our Educational Emphases,” Margaret Mead inquired: What constitutes education in “the broadest sense” of the term, as a continuing human process. More specifically she asked, how and from what basis can we understand the educational processes of long-standing/Indigenous societies as continuous with the forms of education practiced in modern industrialized society? In short, Mead proposes that we recognize the essential continuity of learning, teaching, and schooling across all human societies. In this article, I explore the controversies that Mead’s proposal raises for contemporary, intersecting discourses on decolonization, Indigenous pedagogy, and place- and Land-based education. I argue that Mead’s call alerts us to two major impediments to the widespread flourishment of decolonizing, place/Land-based education, both of which are deeply intertwined with the processes of colonization and forms of anti-Indigeneity implicit in mainstream notions and practices of schooling. The first impediment concerns the external demands for efficiency and productivity placed upon schools, teachers, and learners; the second concerns the interior (personal/spiritual/cognitive) manifestations of colonization that impact upon our ability to understand Land and place as educationally significant in the first place (Land/place as school). In conclusion, I outline the significance of this reconceptualization for the possibilities and controversies of decolonized, place- and Land-based education and the promises of settler-Indigenous reconciliation.




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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Subjects - Names (LCNAF)

Philosophy of Education; educational theory; Land-based education; place-based education