Approaches to Indigenous Topics, Issues and Perspectives in Teacher Education

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Teacher Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2024 | Viewed by 446

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Department of Education, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
Interests: teacher education; indigenous perspectives; outdoor education; sustainability; interdisciplinary teaching
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Education, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
Interests: teacher education; indigenous perspectives; outdoor education; sustainability

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Guest Editor Assistant
Associate Professor, Department of Education, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
Interests: teacher education; indigenous perspectives; outdoor education; interdisciplinary teaching; chemistry education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Teacher educators have a pivotal role in training student teachers up to have competence in indigenous topics, issues and perspectives. This is particularly important to prevent discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypical views of indigenous people, and especially indigenous children. Teaching to promote indigenous values, practices and cultural knowledge often demands holistic and or interdisciplinary approaches, which are uncommon practices in higher education as well as in teacher education. Teacher educators with non-indigenous backgrounds may often feel hesitant to include indigenous perspectives due to their perceived lack of competence.

The aim of this Special Issue is to address how indigenous topics, issues and perspectives can be approached in teacher education. We are particularly interested in opportunities and challenges related to indigenous topics in teacher education (qualifying for work in early childhood education, primary and secondary education).  

We are interested in themes focused on teacher education such as: 

  • Interdisciplinary, crossdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching and learning;
  • Subject-specific approaches to indigenous topics;
  • Sustainability issues;
  • Indigenous contributions to solve challenges for the future; 
  • Indigenous topics in the digital classroom; 
  • Traditional knowledge and skills;
  • Intergenerational knowledge;
  • Place-based, nature-based and outdoor education;
  • Arts approaches from indigenous perspectives; 
  • Urban and rural perspectives and tensions.

We invite the submission of proposals up to 200 words in length by 15th March to Guest Editor Veronica Bergan <[email protected]> with "Approaches to Indigenous Topics, Issues and Perspectives in Teacher Education" in the subject line. Proposals will be reviewed and accepted, and accepted proposals will then be invited to submit a full manuscript for peer review. Please note that an invitation to submit a full paper does not guarantee acceptance; all papers will be subject to the full peer review process as per any submission to Education Sciences. A full manuscript should be between 4000 and 8000 words in length, including the Abstract and any tables/figures.

Dr. Veronica Bergan
Dr. Siw T. Killengreen
Guest Editors

Associate Professor Jan Höper
Guest Editor Assistant

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • teacher education
  • indigenous perspectives
  • outdoor education
  • sustainability
  • interdisciplinary teaching
  • traditional knowledge
  • traditional practices

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Sami culture as an interdisciplinary topic in early childhood teacher education in Norway

Abstract: The framework plan for kindergartens in Norway emphasize knowledge about indigenous Sámi culture in the core values. Kindergarten teacher students are thus obliged to learn about Sámi culture, traditions, and diversity in early childhood teacher education. We present interdisciplinary teaching interventions on Sámi themes that were personal identity driven (we as teachers are of coastal Sámi heritage). Previous studies have shown that teaching about Sámi themes in education often are theoretical and stereotypical. Our aim was thus to broaden the students’ perspectives on the diversity of Sámi culture to transform the stereotypic views and make the lessons more explorative, practical and student active. The teaching interventions emphasized how Sámi people historically were connected to nature from their local place through livelihood and respect of nature resources. The different learning approaches and interventions were evaluated by the students after three rounds of developing the different learning tasks. Our data material consists of questionnaires answered by the students after the main teaching lessons and two group interviews with students shortly after the exam. The findings show that the students have a broader understanding and respect for Sámi culture and the diversity within the culture. They appreciated and had learning outcomes especially from the active and practical learning approaches. The teaching interventions have relevance and transfer value to broaden the perspectives on Sámi culture, practices, and identity development in education. This study may inspire other educators to broaden their approaches to indigenous issues in education.

Title: Supporting the cultural identity development of Indigenous youth: Findings from an Indigenous educators’ community-of-practice

Abstract: Research reveals a positive impact on educational achievement for Indigenous students when their teachers are also Indigenous (Berger, 2022). The educational value of shared identity between students and teachers manifests as increased student attendance rates, grades, and graduation rates (Castano &amp; Brayboy, 2008). Fewer than 5% of public-school teachers in Alaska are Indigenous, while nearly 20% of students are Indigenous (Tetpon et al, 2015). Thus, it is unlikely that most Indigenous students in Alaska will experience a shared cultural identity with their teachers - nor would it be desirable, in this age of global mobility, for society to strive for teachers and students to share cultural identity in all instances. Yet it is important to discern what teaching practices and teacher dispositions support the cultural identity development of Indigenous children.
This project brought together Indigenous educators from across Alaska to critically examine their practice as educators and to seek answers to the research question. Utilizing a collaborative autoethnographic framework (Chang et al, 2012), qualitative data were coded and analyzed to uncover answer to the research question.
Micro-validations, fleeting interactions between teachers and students in which teachers acknowledge and affirm students' CID, were found to be significant in supporting the cultural identity development of Indigenous youth.

Title: Sámi traditional knowledge in teaching on the land

Abstract: Sámi traditional knowledge and interdisciplinary models of teaching are central in Sámi teacher education at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences. Traditionally, knowledge has been transmitted from the older generation to the younger generation through an apprentice-like system. Today, there are challenges in maintaining this apprentice approach, as many Sámi people live in cities outside their traditional living areas, and do not have access to culture-based practices. Sámi teacher education places the teaching profession in a variety of Sámi contexts, where traditional knowledge and interdisciplinary is included as part of the teaching. The aim of the article is too critical examine how Sámi traditional knowledge and interdisciplinary teaching perspectives is transformed into Sámi teacher education. Narrative methodological approach is used, in which 'Narrative is retrospective meaning making...' (Chase 2005, p. 656) of the authors' expertise to address challenges and opportunities in teacher education.  Highlighting the endangered status of Sámi languages and cultures, the narrative underscores the essential role of teacher education in efforts to revitalize, integrating subjects' teaching and Sámi traditional knowledge using differentiated interdisciplinary teaching models as part of the students' teaching practice.

Title: Challenges faced by teachers when teaching about Sea Sámi traditional knowledge in a science class

Abstract: In the Norwegian educational system, more attention is given to teach about Sámi perspectives than in the past, and incorporation of Sámi themes is now included in almost all school subjects. Many teachers in Norway lack knowledge on Sámi history and society and there are few studies and little literature available. In a three-week action research project with a lower secondary school class focused on Sea Sámi traditional knowledge, we explored the challenges faced by majority teachers when integrating this knowledge into natural science lessons. Despite the fact that we continuously tried to develop and improve our own teaching, we saw from the data there were five challenges that largely repeated themselves throughout the study. These challenges included the use of pronouns that distanced teachers and students from the Sea Sámi, such as "they" and "them". This is in contrast to pronouns that promote belonging such as "we". Other challenges we experienced included identification of Sea Sámi distinctiveness, focus on the past, the pupils' application of introduced concepts and knowledge, and the significance/anchoring of the place in the local area. By identifying these challenges, we want to develop our own and other science teachers' teaching practices around Sámi themes. In this way, we can together recognize the challenges we face so that we can collectively work towards a better teaching for and about Sámi perspectives, including Sea Sámi perspectives.

Title: Challenges, strategies and prospects in interweaving Indigenous traditional knowledge in to indigenous education 

Abstract: Elders and Indigenous educators emphasize the importance of incorporating Indigenous  worldviews, values, traditions, and ways of learning into Indigenous education. Rooted in the decolonization and Indigenization of education, this paper explores some of the challenges associated with bringing Indigenous and traditional knowledge into teacher education and the schools in which the graduates will teach. Relying on storying as an Indigenous way of knowing, the Indigenous researchers narrate their experiences as educators and as teacher education instructors to reflect on the strategies they use in interweaving Indigenous knowledges, traditions, values, skills and topics in teaching and learning, as well as the challenges they faced and how these are overcome. This includes advocating for activities such as yoiking and duodji/ Ilusivut (Inuktitut) in formal education. This shared narrative highlights how Indigenous educators contribute to centering knowledge and lifeways that maintain cultural continuity. Although such efforts are on-going, the authors celebrate the inspiring work that is taking place in their respective regions, Northern Sápmi and Labrador, Canada.

Title: Using digital games to integrate Indigenous knowledge: A scoping review

Abstract: The use of digital games in educational settings has garnered significant academic attention. Additionally, there is a growing interest in exploring this usage to teach about Indigenous topics and in Indigenous contexts. However, there's a noticeable gap in literature reviews that assess the values and challenges of using digital games in Indigenous settings and/or for integrating Indigenous knowledge. To comprehend the values and challenges, it is imperative to collate and systematize existing research. This article seeks to address the knowledge gap by mapping evidence, addressing knowledge gaps, and identifying key themes through a scoping review. The use of digital games can provide new ways of learning and interacting with Indigenous perspectives in line with Indigenous ways of learning, providing insights into its application in teacher education. Accordingly, the review focus on how digital games can be incorporated in Indigenous, but also non-Indigenous, teacher education.

Title: The relevance of including Sámi topics in mathematics teacher education

Abstract: Sámi teacher education is based on Sámi culture, language, and social life. This paper presents Sámi individual bodily measuring and the Sámi counting system, which are included in Sámi mathematics teacher education. Including Sámi culture in the national teacher education’s subject mathematics is one way to meet this claim. Based on international research literature about the role of measuring and the role of counting systems in mathematics education, we discuss reasons why the two chosen topics are relevant for national teacher education. We claim that Sámi individual bodily measuring, which is Sámi cultural heritage, can provide a valuable and cost-free approach to measuring for all students in kindergarten and in primary schools’ early years. Sámi counting in the area from ten to twenty is part of Sámi language. Studies of counting systems in Asian and Welsh languages indicate that structured counting is important for students’ learning. Teachers’ knowledge about counting systems in non-Germanic languages can provide teachers opportunities to treat students’ different language backgrounds as a resource and not an obstruction for learning mathematics. Teachers’ knowledge about the Sámi counting system can provide Sámi students better opportunities for grasping the idea of the base ten number system.

Title: Cultural Education Through the Lens of Sámi practitioners: A Qualitative Approach

Abstract: UiT - The Arctic University of Norway is situated in a region with a vital indigenous North Sámi culture. It is expected that Sámi perspectives are integrated into all educational programs, including teacher education. This aligns with the recent reforms in the Norwegian early childhood/primary/ secondary education curriculum which explicitly highlight the inclusion of Sámi perspectives across various subjects. In this context, it is a suggested educational practice to include Sámi traditional practitioners.

Against this backdrop, this paper explores the perspectives of Sámi practitioners, concentrating on their experiences and pedagogical practices when engaging students, pupils, and kindergarten children in their culture. These different practitioners offer learners the chance to engage with Sámi nature-based traditional practices by participating in activities, such as collaboration with reindeer herders, duodji (handcraft) practitioners, coastal Sámi caretakers and similar cultural educators. The study also reveals the practitioners’ arguments for sharing their culture and skills through such learning activities and their suggestions for inclusion in teaching practices. The research methodology comprises semi-structured interviews with Sámi practitioners who are involved in different cooperative projects within our region. This study advocates for the significance of involving Sámi traditional practitioners and Sámi practices on all educational levels, and the need for a culturally sensitive approach within teacher education.
Title: Indigenous perspective in Teacher Education – a case study in Sámi early childhood education and care (ECEC) teacher education
The Sámi people have their own traditional cultural values and practices connected to education. Sámi traditional education is developed in reciprocal relation with nature, embodying a comprehensive non-dualistic approach. From this human-nature connectedness, characteristic ways of educational thinking and practices have emerged, including among others "searvelatnja," learning in multigenerational space, "iešbirgejeaddji," self-reliant managing, and "muitaleapmi." storying for learning.
In Norway, Sámi Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) teacher education has its own national-level framework plan that highlights the needs of Sámi ECEC. The professional quality of Sámi ECEC teachers is based on transferring Sámi ways of organizing children's learning and development into institutional contexts and converting them into pedagogical practices. These processes are referred to as "samification."
This research indicates a continuous need for teachers' professional development in terms of “samification”. Research question to be answered in this article is: How to organize Sámi ECEC teacher education in line with Sámi thinking, doing and being in order to educate highly qualified ECEC teachers for Sámi children?
This article presents pedagogical conversations held among the faculty of Sámi allaskuvla's ECEC Teacher education program. The faculty engaged in discussions about Sámi traditional thinking in Sámi ECEC teacher education pedagogy. According to these conversations, the characteristics and practices of Sámi ECEC teacher education pedagogy are linked to learning on the land and through practical tasks, known as "bargguid bokte oahpan."

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