Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

A White Paper on Aboriginal Education in Universities

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

A White Paper on Aboriginal Education in Universities

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT/RESUME

In this paper, I recount the circumstances which have caused me to question deeply my own complicity in Eurocentric education, which is really all we have to offer our Aboriginal students. Coming from my position as a white, female, middle-aged university professor with a history of school teaching and school counselling, I outline the concerns I have with both schools and faculties of education, fearing personal complicity in cultural genocide. In particular, I am concerned with three things: one, how we frame and name our own racism -- to come to feel comfortable talking about our own biases and prejudicial thoughts, actions, and attitudes--as a necessary first step to action; two, how we disadvantage Aboriginal students in our universities, for whom success may require some form of personal "amputation," and three, how we, as teacher educators, can begin to model, through our own culturally sensitive actions and through our teaching, ways of becoming culturally sensitive classroom teachers. While I do not provide answers to the thorny question of "what to do," I do hold out hope that working in arrangements of mutual respect with those of another culture can lead us to idiosyncratic and powerful models of change.

Dans cet article je racconte les circonstances qui m'ont cause de questionner d'une facon profonde ma propre complicite dans l'education eurocentrique, qui est vraiment tout ce que nous avons offrir a nos etudiants autochtones. A partir de ma position comme un professeur d'une universite et d'une personne qui est blanche, feminine et entre deux ages, avec une histoire d'enseignement et d'orientation scolaires, j'expose dans les grandes lignes les inquietudes que j'ai avec autant les ecoles que les facultes d'education, ayant peur de complicite personnelle dans la genocide culturelle. En particulier, trois choses me preoccupent. La premiere chose est comment on encadre et nomme notre propre racisme -- arriver a sentir a l'aise en discutant de nos propres prejuges et nos pensees, nos actions et nos attitudes prejudiciables -- comme un premier pas necessaire pour l'action. La deuxieme chose est comment on defavorise les etudiants autochtones dans nos universites pour qui le succes peut exiger quelque forme d'amp utation personelle. La troisieme chose est comment nous, en tant qu'educateurs des enseignants, peuvent commencer a modeler au moyen de nos propres actions culturellement sensibles, et au moyen de notre enseignment, des manieres de devenir des professeurs culturellement sensibles dans la salle de classe. Tandis que je ne fournis pas de responses a la question epineuse de "quoi faire," je conserve toujours l'espoir que le fait de travailler dans des arrangements de respect mutuel avec ceux d'une autre culture puisse nous mener a des modeles particuliers et puissants du changement.

Introduction

I am a white, middle-aged, female university professor. I have been an educator for more than thirty years -- mostly in schools working with "underprivileged" students. As a teacher I had ongoing concerns about how we frame children and label the pictures so constructed. I have found that here in the university we also have ways of framing those of our students who are "different." We less often deal with those who do not learn in the way we deem appropriate or with those whose poverty hampers learning. Here we deal with those from different cultures and struggle with the ways in which they do not fit our mold. Particularly in my small prairie university, we face the challenges offered us by our Aboriginal students. My hope is that we learn to listen, my fear is that we will continue to force those who are different into the "one size fits all" mould which marks a successful university graduate.

In our teacher education faculty, access programs to Northern, Native, and Hutterite populations have been in place for some years. Most of our classes on campus have some Aboriginal students. …

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