A learning circle is a meeting or gathering in which a group of people comes together to talk, share personal knowledge, and learn about a particular issue of interest.
This differs from a focus group discussion in the sense that it begins from Indigenous ideas about knowledge and the uses of generating knowledge. It is a conversational method based in oral storytelling. It involves relational and dialogic participation, and as such, it is a useful method and process for facilitating the remembering of stories, experiences, teachings, traditions and connections. What’s more, in addition to generating information, a learning circle encourages sharing, relationship-building, capacity building, harmony and healing (Absolon and Willett, 2004; Dion, 2004; Kovach, 2010).
The learning circle can begin with an opening prayer or other community protocols, followed by an introduction of each of the project participants.
The project facilitator will then lead the group through a discussion on the intergenerational effects of residential schools.
Some examples of questions can include:
- When did you first start hearing about residential schools?
- What was it like to be parented by a survivor of a residential school?
- How has your family experienced the legacy of residential schools?
- How has your community been affected by the history of residential schools?
In facilitating the learning circle, it is essential for project facilitators to show they are listening and paying attention, and to make sure that no one participant dominates the conversation.
The learning circle will help to prepare participants for drafting their own story that they will use in their digital video.
The thing about finding the story and finding the emotions and having the chance to tell your story, and doing it within a group of people is the thing that was the most touching. And then having that conveyed to other people. That’s the most important part.
Following the learning circle discussions, participants will be guided through a process of finding the story that they would want to share in a digital video. This process is outlined in full in Guide 3: Creating and Sharing Digital Stories on the Legacy of Residential Schools.