Mishalish Insight

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

GUEST SPEAKER- February 1, 2006

The presentation today was quite appealing, especially after reading the article about Aboriginal Education. Today he discussed how important it is to know our heritage and past to better understand who we are today and the people that we will teach. He talked about the history of the First Nations and how it is often on the "hush hush" in conversation and education to avoid discomfort. He wanted to create an awareness of the Aboriginal culture, both past and present to protray how intolerance can affect, sometimes destroy, other cultures. I believe he was hoping to instill an awareness of Native culture, not soley for the First Nations, but also for any other child with a diverse ethnic background that will be in our classrooms.

I agree that it is very important to know the history of the area one is to teach in and to have a cultural awareness of the students on is to teach. I think no matter where I teach, whether Alberta or India, it is important for me to know the historical background of where I am to better understand any possible tensions and to know the cultural context in which I am to teach. Once having this foundation set, I will relate much better to my students rather than making assumptions based on inadequate obesrvations about the attitudes, beliefs and events that occur around me.

The Workings Of Class -Adrie Kusserow

In this article Kusserow reveals how subtle class styles in parenting and teaching are present in the classroom, with an unconcious predominance towards the middle-upper class. Kusserow states that middle-upper class families/indivuals interact with a "soft indivualism" as compared to the "hard individualism" of the working class. This states that the middle-upper class sees the world as a place of opportunities for a person to flourish like a flower continually identifying with their feelings whereas the working class prepares their children to be strong, disciplined children to survive the harsh enviroments the world has to offer. This article explains how most teachers educate with the "soft individualism" style, therefore putting working class children at a disadvantage. These children are not used to being asked to express their feelings when disciplined or engaging in class discussions or even writing poetry.

I was quite intrigued by this article as I had never really though to deep about this issue. I do think that there are exceptions to families, but in general Kusserow is quite right about these characteristic differences between classes. My question is, How on earth do I respond to this issue as a teacher? Am I to change my discplinary style according to each child, scolding one while therapuetically talking to the other? I believe that we can easliy make a few changes in regards to certain classroom activities and assignments to engage both styles of learning environments. Now is is considered selfish if I view myself as a "soft individual" and am not comfortable changing to a harsh teacher ? And how easy is it to tell what type of class a student comes from? Am I to now find out how wealthy each student's parents are so that I can properly teach them?

Maybe a thought could be to integrate this into the curriculum through class discussions and projects analyzing different students viewpoints on the world, society, and school to create an awareness of these different mindsets?

Aboriginal Education: Is There a Way Ahead? ~ Hare and Barman
School Video: Residential Schools


I decided to combine my summary from both the video and the article as they were very similar in content and perspectives to the point where I would think the same person created both.

Basically the video and article described the devestating and lasting effects of residential schools on the Native American Nations. They talked of how Natives were stripped of their culture, individuals, families, language, religion, etc. The government and church intentions were to assimilate the Indians to come up to par with the whites in their beliefs and way of life. Children were taken away from their parents and often seperated from their siblings and subjected to live in dorms attending school. The ironic part is these students did not recieve much academic schooling (especially compared to "the white children") but instead were forced into labour, often boys were farm hands and girls learned domestic roles. As if this were not tramautic enough, the article and the video share of people's stories of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Children were often whipped for speaking their own language, and many boys and girls were raped or abused in other sexual forms. This disintigration of families and culture has lead to a break down in the nations and their families, often leading to shame and alcholoism. This has in turn affected Native childrens' perspective and attitude towards education. There is now a move on the part of the government and education and the Aboriginals to not only deal with the past, but to move on to find a new future that encompasses Native customs.

I agreed both with the video and the article on many levels. It is terrible the way the First Nations were treated in the past, and its effect is still prevelant in society. There are still wounded and torn families. I think it is neccessary to educate the schools about the ugly part of the past and to recognize that the ones stuggling with alcohol are probably the ones who never knew what LOVE was. I have always been appalled by what has happened, but when I heard from the mouth of one man that he never knew, understoof, or experienced love when he grew up, I was deeply moved.

Now in full recognition of this tragedy, I do also agree that it is time to move on, not forgetting the past, but creating a new future and re-establishing Aboriginal culture as it should be in this modern day. This requires an active part of the First Nations to remeber old traditions and to embrace new ones.

As mentioned in the article, I also think it is important for Aboriginals to be considered in the curriculum with their beliefs and methods. It is important to have a strong Aboriginal voice when creating the curriculum, as well as establishing well funded First Nations schools, and while doing this recognize the different nations (Cree, Blackfoot, etc) within the Aboriginal communites.

Many good things can come in terms of rebirth for the First Nations if everyone (government, Aboriginals, Canadian society, etc) is willing to do their part.

I agree