Ways of Knowing
How do you know what you know? Where do you get your knowledge from? There are many different ways to understand and engage with the world around us. However, dominant knowledge systems in Western societies tend to value knowledge grounded in data, scientific analysis, logic, and theory. There are many knowledge systems which enhance meaning, help to appreciate complexity, and open up opportunities for change. Indigenous knowledge systems vary from one another and include a complex set of technologies developed and sustained by Indigenous peoples. These forms of knowledge are holistic, contextual, and relational and have been embedded in community practices, rituals, and relationships. There are some instances where knowledge systems overlap. Seeking out and holding space for multiple ways of knowing is important because privileging one knowledge system over others upholds dominant structures and can perpetuate systemic barriers.
Perry, E. S., & Duncan, A. C. (2017, June 2). Multiple Ways of Knowing: Expanding How We Know. Retrieved from
Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations (pp. 1-69). Ottawa: National Working Group on Education. Retrieved from
Madjidi, K., & Restoule, J. P. (2008). Comparative indigenous ways of knowing and learning. Comparative and international education: Issues for teachers, 77-106. Retrieved from
Further Reading / Additional resources
- Cull, I.; Hancock, R.; McKeown, S.; Pidgeon, M.; Veda, M. (2018). Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being. Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors.
- A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors is part of an open professional learning series developed for staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Guides in the series include:
University of Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. (n.d.). Indigenous Ways of Knowing E-Learning Course.
This module is one in a set of learning modules created to support and inspire educators and future teachers to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives and an appreciation of how Indigenous knowledge and worldviews can assist all learners in their educational journey. The modules include suggested activities for further application of the concepts. Everything is free and open source. Created by Jean-Paul Restoule (Anishinaabe) a member of the Dokis First Nation. He is an associate professor of Aboriginal Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.