maple leaf 1-2. Teacher Knowledge Bases

Teacher working with Native students need THREE types of basic knowledge:

1. University Knowledge

This includes methodology, human development, course content, etc. This is the standard material taught in any teacher-training program.

2. General Native Knowledge

This includes Native/White Interactions, Residential Schools, Land Claims, Native cultures in Canada, Governmental positions with respect to Native people, etc. This knowledge is about the interactions of Native peoples and Canada.

3. Nation Specific Knowledge (Knowledge of the Nation you are working with)

This includes history, life-styles, social customs, clan system, values, etc.

All three knowledge types must be combined to create a relevant learning environment for Native students.

bridging cultures

We need to build bridges between cultures.

Native World   Mainstream World
Past Visible Present Visible Bridges
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Past Visible Present Visible
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Past Hidden Present Hidden Bridges
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Past Hidden Present Hidden

If only the Native world's PAST VISIBLE is taught, then what is being taught is a craft. For example, if making drums is taught, without the underlying value structure that was developed around drums, singing, and dancing, then it's a craft. To do a proper job in drum making, the underlying value structure needs to be explored as well. Connections (bridges) to other cultures would increase the appreciation of drums and what they mean.

If snowshoe making is offered, and they are then hung on the wall, this takes snowshoes and turns them into a "craft" or "artifact." What needs to be done, is after making the snowshoes, at least one extended trip be done on them so the students begin to understand the importance of snowshoes. Snow shoeing teaches endurance, self-confidence, accepting challenges, etc., all lessons which help shape the mind sets of Native people.

By exploring similarities and differences between the visible (material) and hidden (values) components of different cultures we create understanding and sometimes we also create something new.

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