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What Happened This Year In Education: 9 Popular Stories

ICTMN Staff
12/26/14

There was plenty of controversy in schools this year, ranging from kids being sent home for what others deemed inappropriate hair or fashion to arguments over what is appropriate to teach in the classroom. Each year, teachers with no background or understanding of Native history or culture offer students damaging, stereotypical curriculum. So what are some things teachers shouldn’t do when teaching Native kids? Read on to find out.

Public School District National Honor Society students go into the elementary classrooms to read with the primary students as a community service project. (Courtesy Mahnomen Elementary Principal Jacob Melby)

Each year, teachers with no background or understanding of Native history, culture, or current affairs, offer mainstream and Native students damaging, stereotypical curriculum. So what are some things teachers shouldn’t do when teaching Native kids? Read on to find out.

RELATED: 10 Things Teachers Should Never Do When Teaching Native Kid

(Thinkstock)

There was much discussion about truth-telling this year. So, do history books written by white colonizers tell the truth about Natives? Decidedly, no. What are some of the biggest lies they tell?

RELATED: 8 Big Lies History Books Tell About Natives

Malachi Wilson, 5, was sent home on his first day of school and ordered to cut his hair. (Native News Online)

In August, a 5-year-old Native American boy was sent home on his first day of school and ordered to cut his hair because it allegedly violated district policy, the boy’s mother said.

RELATED: Navajo Kindergartner Sent Home from School, Ordered to Cut His Hair

Reader-submitted photo of a festival-goer down to the Pet Shop Boys. (Tracy Canard Goodluck)

What should teachers know before approaching American Indian culture and history with their classrooms? We believe teachers should be aware of the truth when teaching any history of this country. We offered five things educators should know.

RELATED: 5 Things Educators Should Know Before Teaching Native Culture and History

(Coca-ColaCompany.com)

One of the seven languages used in the Coca-Cola commercial aired during the Super Bowl called “It’s Beautiful” was Keres, a language spoken by Pueblo people. The commercial showed various scenes of the country from mountains to desert and from rural to inner cities with people singing “America the Beautiful” in their language.

RELATED: Coca-Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl Ad Causes Stir

RELATED: Native Language Spotlighted During Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad

A staggering 87 percent of references to American Indians in all 50 states’ academic standards portray them in a pre-1900 context. (Penn State University)

What happens every Thanksgiving at a number of schools across Turtle Island? Teachers break out the construction paper and synthetic feathers to teach students about the first Thanksgiving, perpetuating a fairy tale about struggling pilgrims and friendly Indians. This often follows Columbus Day instruction that is similarly celebratory. But for the vast majority of elementary and secondary students, lessons like these may be the only time they learn about American Indians at all. A staggering 87 percent of references to American Indians in all 50 states’ academic standards portray them in a pre-1900 context.

RELATED: ‘All Indians Are Dead?’ At Least That’s What Most Schools Teach Children

Psychology professor Anthony Greenwald, one of two psychologists to design the Implicit Association Test. (Joshua Bessex)

Think you’re free of bias or prejudice? Think again. Of the more than 14 million people who have taken an implicit bias test during the last 15 years, most discovered unconscious—and often uncomfortable—biases. One of the most popular tests, the race test, revealed that three out of four people implicitly prefer white skin.

RELATED: How Racist Are You? Take the Tests to Find Out

Tenelle Starr sports her now-famous, historically accurate, magenta hoodie. (CBC News)

“Got Land? Thank an Indian.” Some people in Saskatchewan, Canada, apparently didn’t want to. And that, for a few days, got 13-year-old eighth-grade student Tenelle Starr, Star Blanket Cree Nation, barred from wearing the sweatshirt at school 56 miles from Regina, Saskatchewan.

RELATED: First Nation Student Wins Right to Wear ‘Got Land?’ Hoodie After School Ban

This screen capture shows Marie Wilcox speaking Wukchumni. (New York Times)

A recent short documentary by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for the New York Times profiles Marie Wilcox, of the Wukchumni, a Yokuts Tribe native to Central California. She grew up speaking mostly Wukchumni and created a dictionary in her language.

RELATED: Video: Last Fluent Wukchumni Speaker Fights to Save Her Language

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hesutu's picture
hesutu
Submitted by hesutu on
There have been many articles on school reform and education this year at ICTMN and I have read all of the articles with great interest. The position that seems to be left out though is us educating our own children according to our ways. In all the articles this year it seems we still look to white ways and white education systems and white control in some manner of the education of our future generations. I believe that 500 years of established and documented history have made clear that there is nothing that the white christian civilization can offer us other than assimilation and the genocide of our peoples and cultures. They are incapable of tolerance or acceptance of anything other than their monotheistic worldview, whether that worldview be christian, atheist, or rabid patriotism towards a global corporate warfare state. I have taken to educating my own children and grandchildren in my people's stories, skills, ways, dances, songs and language. There is no possible way that white people can teach us these things. It is not reasonable to expect this otherwise. Why do we continue to discuss this as if this is the only possibility. Teach your children. Teach them your people's ways and knowledge. If you do not choose to do so, that is fine as well. But you have no one to blame when they assimilate and accept white supremacist or genocidal christian values based on intolerance and hate. My dearest cousins, my beloved family, know that it is up to us to decide the path we wish to encourage our children, our only hope for indigenous ways in the future, and respect of ancestors, to follow. When we choose to guide them to the white man's path, that is our choice. Know though that that is not the only choice.
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