Teaching With the Four Directions

Posted on


The teaching of the Sacred Medicine Wheel is a belief system of many of the Indigenous groups of North America. It supports the belief that every action a person makes should be one that creates balance in the emotions, mind, physical body and the spiritual soul of the person. These concepts can be effectively used as an instructional strategy to create situations whereby students can learn holistically. (Barkley, 2010) John Ratey (2002) indicated that the current understanding is that the brain and body systems are intertwined throughout the entire “self” of the person. The instructor must be aware that the learner cannot separate emotion, cognition, and the physical body. (from Barkley, 2010). The Sacred Medicine Wheel teachings add the fourth element of the spiritual to this concept. Every person, child, adolescent, adult, or elder learns best when these aspects are considered by the instructor or learning facilitator.

Nicole Bell, an Anishinabe Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Professional Learning at Trent University explains the pedagogical value of the Medicine Wheel. With some adjustments these concepts are successful in andragogy. Bell explains, “In the east the gift of vision is found, where one is able to “see”. In the south one spends time in which to “relate to” the vision. In the west, one uses the gift of reason to “figure it out”. Finally, in the north the learner uses the gift of movement to “do” or actualize the vision. Bell argues that the learner cannot “do” or actualize the learning until the learner understands who they are and the learning material from the other three elements.

Barkley (2010) explains that the instructor of adults must consider how the student “feels” about themselves and the content the instructor wishes to impart. Barkley goes on to indicate that the psychomotor domain is required to plan, calculate and form the intent to learn the content. The cognitive or mental domain is vital for making the decision to “do” or actualize the learning. Bell argues that first the learner must spiritually “see” how this new content has meaning and importance. How all of this can be achieved in the classroom is explained in the next post.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s