What is the advantage of teaching in tandem with an Indigenous instructor? In connection with his experience at the First Nations Executive Education program, this question was asked of Laurent Simon, the HEC Montréal professor who is the director of the school’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His answer left no room for doubt: “It’s not just advantageous, it’s indispensable.”

Professor Laurent has been teaching since 1987, he has been the educational director of a wide range of programs, and he has given seminars on innovation and design thinking. For him, being paired with Dave Laveau, General Manager at Indigenous Tourism Québec and Chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation Council was an enriching initiation: “Sometimes I felt like an imposter when I touched on topics related to the First Nations,” he stresses. “Working in tandem with an Indigenous expert makes it possible to nuance what you say, so it provides a more balanced and extremely beneficial approach from the learning perspective.”

Yet this was not the first time in his career he had done team teaching, an approach that he loves.

Promoting involvement through collaboration

En ce qui concerne la dynamique de la collaboration en With respect to the collaborative classroom dynamics, he insists on the value of the initial introductions of all the participants: “This is an essential moment that encourages the participants to meet each other, engage in debate, and share feedback. While the teaching team structures the approach, the learners enrich the questioning process, which is greatly appreciated.”

He also stresses the relevance of using concrete examples and bringing forward entrepreneurial strategies from Indigenous communities, because it fosters involvement and learning.

Has he had challenges while teaching in tandem? He prefers to refer to a process of mutual discovery and fruitful exchange. Laurent Simon and Dave Laveau defined common fields of interest and rapidly realized they were a natural team. They also made sure that each of them had enough space to express himself, because they were aware of the need to balance their knowledge and experience.

Having an impact on society as a whole

Laurent Simon has learned a lot from this adventure. In particular, he has come to understand the dynamics of interaction with the members of First Nations communities. He has adopted a slower rhythm, making it possible to delve deeper into topics, to foster exchange, and to give everyone the chance to speak, even persons who tend not to express themselves as much. He has discovered numerous innovative First Nations initiatives, ones that highlight the positive influence Indigenous communities and their projects have on society in general.

His time at FNEE bears witness to the importance of intercultural collaboration, of listening, and of sharing knowledge for an enriching and inclusive education. His teaching and continuous learning have had an impact not only on the participants, but also on himself as a professor committed to promoting diversity and innovation.