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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Learning to Heal, Healing to Learn: Sacred Pedagogies and the Aesthetics of a Teaching-Healing Praxis among Chicana and Chicano Educators in Southern California

  • Author(s): Toscano, Silvia E
  • Advisor(s): Yosso, Tara J.
  • et al.

This dissertation unearths insights that urban Chicana and Chicano educators, in Southern California, teaching at the upper levels of the pipeline (levels 9-16 and beyond), have gained from Indigenous ceremonial practices. The study also explores evidence of how these insights have shaped teaching methods and practice/praxis, proving that Indigenous epistemologies are vibrant, alive, and thriving amongst Chicana and Chicano educators in Southern California.

The first chapter examines the impact of five hundred plus years of colonizing, missioning, and assimilating history and its impact on the persistence of historical trauma—as related to Chicanas and Chicanos, particularly for those with origins from México and Guatemala. It also provides a comprehensive definition of decolonization that is pertinent to this project.

The second chapter is grounded in affirming the need for humanizing, healing, and transformative pedagogies. It delves deeply into three overlapping lenses from which to analyze the roles that racism and colonialism play in current, mainstream educational institutions: Chicanas and Chicanos along the Educational Pipeline and CRT in Education, Ethnic Identity Development among Chicanas and Chicanos, and Decolonizing Indigenous Pedagogies. The literature review seeks to highlight intersections existing among Indigenous pedagogical practices throughout the Southern and Northern Traditions of this Hemisphere. These literatures provide strategies that are hopeful for those seeking decolonial models of education for liberation.

This study follows the principles of decolonial methodologies as well as methodologies that honor the spirit, resulting in a qualitative study with six urban Chicana and Chicano educators that are also Indigenous-identified, rooting them to their ancestral places of origin. The findings of this study are drawn from the narratives of the educators, focusing on their ethnic and spiritual identity development. Their rich narratives provide insights about the complexity of learning that involves: the intersections among familial education, the assimilationist tendencies of schooling, the hopeful resistance that is cultivated through Chicano and Chicana as well as Ethnic Studies, and the embodied teaching that arises from being immersed within a ceremonial discourse.

The final section of the dissertation highlights the ways in which a ceremonial discourse guides pedagogical practice and curriculum design in particular. Critical reflections are provided that offer insights about the future of Ethnic Studies in public schools in California and the possibilities that are emerging for a Chicana and Chicano Decolonizing Indigenous Pedagogical Framework.

Keywords: Chicana and Chicano educators, Decolonizing Indigenous Pedagogies, Teaching as a Healing Craft, Chicana and Chicano Decolonizing Indigenous Pedagogical Framework, Ceremonial Discourse.

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