‘Aboriginal Education’

“Canadian aboriginal elites are now demanding more…than just the maintenance of their control over educational financial assistance for aboriginal youth. They’re demanding complete control over the entire aboriginal education system itself!  

“Unfortunately, when considering the causes of low academic achievement on the part of aboriginal youth, it is apparently ‘verboten’…to ever publicly ask or debate whether or not the “separate but equal” status quo might be contributing to this disastrous situation (THAT might threaten egos, funding, control over funding, and Indian industry jobs). Rather…their solution is for Canada and the provinces to pour more money into the existing dysfunctional situation, and to give aboriginal elites more control over it…”

–Peter Best ERBLAboriginalEducation800x800“Lack of education is at the heart of aboriginal peoples’ cultural underdevelopment, and their inability to participate in the Canadian workforce. Improvements in education, therefore, are directly linked to solving other problems that are symbols of a marginalized existence — poverty, poor health, violence…, suicides, child abuse, and so on — caused by the gap in cultural development. 

“Poor identification of the problem, however, is being impeded by misguided efforts to improve aboriginal peoples’ “low self-esteem”. Many Canadians believe it is inappropriate to criticize aboriginal educational initiatives because of the terrible injustices that have been perpetrated in that area in the past. They argue that aboriginal peoples should be allowed to “make their own mistakes”, and it is inappropriate for “white people” to “tell them what to do”.  

“But if there is no debate about educational goals and methods, how will aboriginal people have access to the ideas and knowledge that exist around the world?… And on what basis will they even know what mistakes are, if standards are continuously lowered and their lives kept artificially separate from the Canadian mainstream?”

–Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard'First Nations' Pedagogy‘The Reality of Aboriginal Education’:  

“The obscuring of real achievement levels is ignored in current discussions of aboriginal control over educational programs. Instead, it is argued that control over education is needed to restore aboriginal pride and self-esteem…  

“Political pressure to increase the number of aboriginals with credentials has created a fertile ground for disguising low educational levels…  

“The demand for native control over curriculum assures that traditional cultural practices have precedence over modern communication requirements, so that students remain unprepared for the disciplines of secondary education. The secondary schools are then adjusted, to allow aboriginal peoples to graduate artificially.  

“And why stop there? Many undergraduate programs are now specifically designed for natives, where the application of “Aboriginal” signifies the lower standard of the degree…  

“It is also common to hear that ‘aboriginal peoples’ have different and inherent “ways of knowing”, and “teaching styles” that must be accommodated in a separate educational system… These arguments can be found in all the demands for self-government over education…  

“Recent initiatives advocate a transformation of the educational system, to be completely controlled by aboriginal communities. Aboriginal students, it is argued, are discriminated against by the Canadian educational system because “Eurocentric” {“Rational”} standards prevail. 

“To rectify this, a number of reforms have been advocated to address what are perceived as the special needs of aboriginal students… that  

    “seek to replace Eurocentric programs of study with a curriculum based on spiritual teachings… The goal is NOT to produce citizens with critical thinking skills who are able to participate in the global economy…” (Sharilyn Caillou, “Aboriginal education in Canada: a study in decolonization”, 2001)  

“Aboriginal students are encouraged to apply abstract concepts, instead of completing assignments involving “number-based mathematics”…  

“As well as alternative criteria, “different” forms of communication are advocated for aboriginal students. It should NOT be expected that students will be able to structure information in terms of arguments and evidence. Instead, they should listen to stories…without a stated conclusion…
It is argued, for example, that the “sacredness” and “fundamental truth” of myths should be honoured…
 

“In addition, teaching critical thinking skills becomes problematic since it “may be viewed as challenging the traditional ethic of respectful listening”… This concern with promoting “respectful listening” has even led the University of Victoria {B.C.} to change teaching methods and curricula to “accommodate aboriginal traditions and values”…  

“If aboriginal peoples are not able to master “number-based mathematics” or must rely on “non-explicit” forms of communication, how will they ever be able to become the “engineers, managers, business people, natural resource specialists, and all the other experts” that self-government advocates maintain are needed in aboriginal communities? …
FBLight&Truthyale“But education is not only important because it enables people to “make a good living” in modern society. Education is worthy in its own right as it enables us to develop critical thinking and independent thought…  

“Aboriginal people, like all other human beings, need to acquire this understanding in order to fully self-actualize in the contemporary world…  

“Pointing to traditional aboriginal enculturation mechanisms as just a “different kind of education” obscures the fact that all educational systems developed out of these processes… Learning through observation and storytelling alone constrains the development of abstract thought. This is because, as is discussed by Maryanne Wolf in “Proust and the Squid”,  

    “educated members of an oral culture had to depend entirely on personal memorization and meta-cognitive strategies to preserve their collective knowledge” and this limited “what could be said, remembered, and created… As humans learned to use written language more and more precisely to convey their thoughts, their capacity for abstract thought and novel ideas accelerated”… 

ProustAndTheSquid“There is even a movement today to develop special post-secondary programs to be taught in aboriginal communities… One is the ‘Akitsiraq Law School’, developed in association with the University of Victoria, where Inuit lawyers will be trained to interpret the Nunavut land claims agreement and to work in the burgeoning bureaucracy. The INUIT-ONLY program will not charge students tuition but will give them each a $50,000/year living allowance. The objective is to allow Inuit to study law at a reputable university without experiencing the discomfort of leaving home. 

“What isn’t mentioned, however, is the main purpose for constructing a separate law school for Inuit students — accommodating the lower standard of educational achievement amongst the Inuit population.  

“Like the aboriginal teacher educational programs, nursing programs, and Native Studies departments across the country, native law programs give degrees to students who have not met the requirements expected from non-aboriginals. The low quality of education in primary and secondary school is thus hidden by a post-secondary law program…  

“But these graduates will not be qualified to work anywhere but Nunavut…
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“The ignorance and insularity being perpetuated by self-governance of education has yet to be understood, as native education programs are reviewed by advocates. In these evaluations, the most common manoeuvre is the usual confusion of culture and race, and the charge of ‘racism’ that meets anyone who recognizes the developmental gap between aboriginal teaching methods and modern educational processes. There is also the accusation that acknowledging this gap will be harmful to aboriginal peoples’ self-esteem, and that a critical analysis of native spirituality is disrespectful…

“Objective forms of evaluation, however, are resisted by supporters of self-government. One of the proposals made by the ‘National Indian Brotherhood’ {the forerunner of the A’FN’}, for example, is “eliminating the use of I.Q. and standardized tests for Indian children”. Deborah Begoray, an associate professor and graduate advisor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria, also maintains that reading tests are flawed and should not be applied because they will reveal that aboriginal students are lagging behind non-aboriginals…  

“Although standardized tests are opposed on the grounds that they “do not truly reflect the intelligence of children belonging to minority, ethnic, or other cultural backgrounds” {Yet the tests DO reflect the intelligence of Chinese, East Indian or Jewish students, for example…}, eliminating their use also inhibits an assessment of the current claims about self-government’s “success” in educating aboriginal students.  

“This way, the negative impacts of spiritualism, the use of storytelling, and the reliance on unqualified teachers and elders, remain hidden…

http://scottberkun.com/2015/the-four-lies-of-storytelling/
http://scottberkun.com/2015/the-four-lies-of-storytelling/

“Lack of education is at the heart of aboriginal peoples’ cultural underdevelopment, and their inability to participate in the Canadian workforce. Improvements in education, therefore, are directly linked to solving other problems that are symbols of a marginalized existence — poverty, poor health, violence…, suicides, child abuse, and so on — caused by the gap in cultural development.  

“Poor identification of the problem, however, is being impeded by misguided efforts to improve aboriginal peoples’ “low self-esteem”. Many Canadians believe it is inappropriate to criticize aboriginal educational initiatives because of the terrible injustices that have been perpetrated in that area in the past. They argue that aboriginal peoples should be allowed to “make their own mistakes”, and it is inappropriate for “white people” to “tell them what to do”.  

“But if there is no debate about educational goals and methods, how will aboriginal people have access to the ideas and knowledge that exist around the world?… And on what basis will they even know what mistakes are, if standards are continuously lowered and their lives kept artificially separate from the Canadian mainstream? …  

“The non-aboriginal attitudes that support aboriginal education come down to one word — condescension. Condescension means that a person thinks that there should be one standard for them, and another for those to whom they condescend… They feel withholding the truth from others is acceptable, because they believe those others do not have the capacity to accept it…  

“Keeping people blissfully ignorant, however, has a downside. It leaves them open to manipulation. Taboos against truth-telling enable charlatans to take advantage of those who have been shielded from reality…  

“The modern deceivers are the Aboriginal Industry. Linguists, anthropologists, and other consultants encourage substandard methods and practices, so that contracts can be obtained to develop, run, and evaluate a separate “culturally sensitive” aboriginal educational system.”  

–‘Education: Honouring the Ignorance of Our Ancestors’,
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry” (2008), p. 191-214 
 

http://www.amazon.ca/Disrobing-Aboriginal-Industry-Indigenous-Preservation/dp/0773534210 

Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head
Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head

“Canada’s governing classes join in a chorus with Canada’s Indian elites in singing the praises of more and better education for young Indians as one of the key ways out of the terrible social and economic situation Indians find themselves in.  

“Education is indeed one of the solutions, but the way these elites intend to implement this solution will only make the problem worse, not better. Indian elites want more money for more and better on-reserve primary and secondary schools — schools run by themselves…  

“In relation to Canadian Indian enrollment in colleges and universities, the problems and risks of excessive control over education being given to Indian band elites have long been known…  

“Canadian Indian elites are now demanding more in this area than just the maintenance of their control over educational financial assistance for Indian youth. They’re demanding complete control over the entire Indian education system itself!  

“Unfortunately, when considering the causes of low academic achievement on the part of Indian youth, it is apparently ‘verboten’ for Indian and non-Indian elites to ever publicly ask or debate whether or not the “separate but equal” status quo might be contributing to this disastrous situation (that might threaten egos, funding, control over funding, and Indian industry jobs). Rather, as evidenced by that panel report, their solution is for Canada and the provinces to pour more money into the existing dysfunctional situation, and to give Indian elites more control over it…  

“Canada and Canadian Indian elites are failing Indian youth in this area. They’re failing them by supporting the existence of the dysfunctional, harmful “separate but equal” status quo for Indians, and now the further expansion of it in the area of education. And if this further expansion does happen as demanded, instead of education being used as the means of starting to get Indians out of the social and economic rut they are in, it’s going to be used as a means to put them deeper and more securely into it.”  

–“Devolving Control of Education to Indians”,
Peter Best 

http://www.nodifference.ca/essay/chap35 SchoolSegregationBanned“American studies have shown that racially integrated schools produce far better academic outcomes and far better life outcomes for their students than do segregated schools. Thus, it would be far more positive for our Canadian aboriginal youth to attend school with the youth of all the other races, ethnicities and religions that make up our beautiful Canadian mosaic.”

http://www.manitoulin.ca/writer-takes-issue-first-nations-leaders-education-rights-funding/ Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee“Chief Madahbee {Anishinabek ‘Nation’ Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee} wrongly states that the shortfall in funding for aboriginal schools “stems from the failure of the federal government in its treaty obligations” (‘First Nations’ vow to oppose education act’, December 23, page 17).”

http://www.manitoulin.ca/first-nations-vow-oppose-imposed-education-act/   

“Which treaty is he talking about? None of the treaties affecting the Manitoulin or North Shore—the 1836 Bond Head, the 1850 Robinson Huron, or the 1862 Manitoulin—mentions funding for education, or education “rights” at all!  

“Chief Beardy wrongly states that aboriginals have the “inherent right to establish and control our own educational systems.”
There’s no law or treaty that says that, either. With respect, he’s
{deliberately?} confusing a political wish with a legal right.  

“Aboriginal youth, based on the honour of the Crown principle, do have the moral and legal right to a properly and equally-funded, good education, and they should get that.  

“But the Native-run, “Natives-only” school system that Native elites are demanding would not be good for aboriginal youth. In fact, it would be harmful to them.  

“American studies have shown that racially-integrated schools produce far better academic outcomes and far better life outcomes for their students than do segregated schools. Thus, it would be far more positive for our Canadian aboriginal youth to attend school with the youth of all the other races, ethnicities and religions that make up our beautiful Canadian mosaic.  

“The Bible teaches us that “God made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth” (Acts 17-26).  

“Martin Luther King, who fought against segregation all his life, drew on the Bible to preach the unity of all mankind and to fight for the right of black youth to attend racially-integrated schools.  

“Nelson Mandela preached racial unity and racial integration — one set of laws for all, including one public school system for all. He exemplified the inspiring moral example of living in a manner that transcended colour and race. 

“The Bible and these great moral leaders tell us what we already instinctively know—that we are all equal in the eyes of God. This is a fundamental tenet of both our Western value system and native spiritual teachings.  

“To be the best example possible for our young people, and for their best interests, we should all be trying to put these highest and best values and teachings into practice. One way to do so is for all our young people, Native and non-Native alike, to be educated in one racially-integrated public school system.”  

Yours truly,
Peter Best, Sudbury
 

–‘Letter to the Editor’, Manitoulin Expositor, Jan.8, 2014
http://www.manitoulin.ca/writer-takes-issue-first-nations-leaders-education-rights-funding/  
Schoolyard -Drawing“The Canadian Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences — the well-meaning people responsible for continuing to give to non-Indian Canadian students the archetypal “useless arts degree” — are now helping to institutionalize and encourage the proliferation of the even-more-useless “native studies” arts degree, so that now Indian-Canadian liberal arts graduates — armed with their degrees, somewhat like their non-Indian counterparts — can go back to their reserve and move back in with their parents.”  

–“A ‘First Nations’ Education”,
Peter Best 

http://www.nodifference.ca/essay/chap36 ERBLTribalPoliticsDisruptsSchooling600x600See also:

‘Say No To Segregated Education’ (‘Crab Syndrome’) {May 12, 2015}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/627825677319669/?type=1
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