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Indigenising Curriculum: Questions posed by Baiga vidya. Padma M. Sarangapani, Comparative Education, 2003.
The Baiga are a small tribe inhabiting the forested regions of Central India. They are known for their extensive knowledge of forests and healing. A local pedagogic tradition supports the transmission of this knowledge from expert practitioner-gurus to their chelas or novices. The knowledge system is local and oral. The pedagogic tradition and socialisation which supports its transmission is marked by these qualities as also the subsistence level of production and the lack of centralised authority in the organisation of the tribe, and in children’s lives. This paper explores the disjunction between this and formal schooling whose pedagogic practices and curriculum presume a literate tradition: where knowledge is decontextually presented in texts and children are already socialised to accept pedagogic/adult authority. In the present Indian context where there is a growing emphasis on incorporating indigenous knowledges into the school curriculum, the paper raises questions on the epistemological feasibility of such an inclusion.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems / Alaska Native Ways of Knowing. Barnhardt, R., & Kawagley, A. O., Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 2005.
This article seeks to extend our understanding of the processes of learning that occur within and at the intersection of diverse world views and knowledge systems, drawing on experiences derived from across Fourth World contexts, with an emphasis on the Alaska context in particular. The article outlines the rationale behind a comprehensive program of educational initiatives that are closely articulated with the emergence of a new generation of indigenous scholars who are seeking to move the role of indigenous knowledge and learning from the margins to the center of the educational research arena and thus take on some of the most intractable and salient issues of our times.
The Weirdest People in the World? Joseph Henrich, Stephen J. Heine, Ara Norenzayan, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2010.
Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers – often implicitly – assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these “standard subjects” are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species – frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The findings suggest that members of WEIRD societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, and behavior – hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges.
Open Attention as a Tool for Observational Learning. Suzanne Gaskins. Presented at Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, conference hosted at University of Notre Dame, 2012.
Learning through observation in everyday activities is widely recognized in the ethnographic literature as a central way that children learn from others. There are two well-described characteristics of learning through observation: participation in meaningful activities with people who are important in the children’s lives and a belief that children are active, motivated learners who take initiative to garner experiences and make meaning from them. Gaskins and Paradise (2010) have proposed that there is a third characteristic central to observational learning: open attention, defined as attention that takes in information from the full environmental context (that is, wide-angled) and is sustained over time (that is, abiding). This paper will describe open attention in some detail, giving examples of how open attention is encouraged in a variety of cultures, its value as a component of observational learning, the role of concentration, and the implications for understanding children’s learning (in and out of school) and play. The presentation will conclude that, while learning through observation is present in all cultures, in cultures where open attention is encouraged and expected, and where the responsibility for learning is given to the children, observational learning is both more powerful and more central to children’s mastery of the full range of cultural knowledge.
Land as Pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, 2014.
A resurgence of Indigenous political cultures, governances and nation-building requires generations of Indigenous peoples to grow up intimately and strongly connected to our homelands, immersed in our languages and spiritualities, and embodying our traditions of agency, leadership, decision-making and diplomacy. This requires a radical break from state education systems – systems that are primarily designed to produce communities of individuals willing to uphold settler colonialism. This paper uses Nishnaabeg stories to advocate for a reclamation of land as pedagogy, both as process and context for Nishnaabeg intelligence, in order to nurture a generation of Indigenous peoples that have the skills, knowledge and values to rebuild our nation according to the word views and values of Nishnaabeg culture.
Reproducing Racism: Schooling and race in highland Bolivia. Andrew Canessa, Race Ethnicity and Education, 2004.
Bolivia is one of the few Latin American nations with a majority indian population. Strong assimilationist policies over the past fifty years have meant indians have been discriminated against in many areas of social life. Rural schools have been a principal tool in assimilation. Over the past decade political and education reform have shifted policy away from an assimilationist model to a multicultural one. Of great significance is the requirement for use of indigenous languages in school and, as a consequence, large numbers of teachers who themselves come from indian communities. Despite these policies, schoolteachers are still a major source of assimilationist cultural ideology and are principal agents in reproducing hegemonic racism in indian communities. It cannot be assumed that indian teachers will be positive models for indian children in a racist society; indeed, the ambiguous racial and cultural position of the indian teacher may mean quite the opposite. This paper, based on anthropological fieldwork, examines the role of teachers and schooling in an Aymara-speaking highland village.
Suturing together Girls and Education: An investigation into the Social (Re)Production of Girls’ Education as a Hegemonic Ideology
Shenila Khoja-Moolji, Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education, 2015.
There seems to be a global consensus that girls’ education is a commonsensical solution to issues as wide-ranging as poverty, fertility, human trafficking, and terrorism in the global south. In this article, I inquire into how this common sense about girls’ education is produced and sustained. I examine how two radically specific happenings—the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in 2012, and the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria in 2014—were transformed into events of international concern and how girls’ education has come to be proposed as the solution. In doing so, I highlight the histories and the social and political realities that common sense conceals and its implications for the well-being of populations in the global south.
Indigenous Knowledge: Foundations for First Nations. Marie Battiste, World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium Journal, 2005.
This essay seeks to clarify the theoretical frameworks that have been developed to understand Indigenous knowledge, to provide some insight into the reasons for the tensions between Indigenous and Eurocentric ways of knowing, and to point out the challenges these conflicts bring to educational systems. It is part of a study that responds to the Government of Canada’s working partnership with First Nations to improve the quality of Aboriginal life and education in Canada through research conducted with the Education Renewal Initiative.
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Barker JE, Semenov AD, Michaelson L, Provan LS, Snyder HR and Munakata Y, Frontiers in Psychology, 2014.
Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children’s externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children’s experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children’s daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children’s activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children’s self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.
Play, ADHD, and the Construction of the Social Brain. Jaak Panksepp, Journal of Play, 2008.
Because of the role of play in the epigenetic construction of social brain functions, the young of all mammalian species need sufficient play. For the same reason, the nature of that play becomes an important social policy issue for early childhood development and education. Animal research on this topic indicates that play can facilitate the maturation of behavioral inhibition in growing animals, while psychostimulants reduce playfulness. Our failure to provide adequate opportunities for natural play in modern societies, the author argues, may have contributed to the steady growth in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) in children, which in turn has increased prescriptions of highly effective attention-promoting psychostimulants whose developmental effects on growing brains remain unclear. The author concludes that the incidence of ADHD—and hence the need for psychostimulant medications for growing children—may diminish if we create play sanctuaries for preschool children, where they could play naturally with each other, and thereby facilitate frontal lobe maturation and the healthy development of pro-social minds. Physical play should be part of the daily social diet of all children throughout grade school.
The double-edged sword of pedagogy; instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery. Elizabeth Bonawitz, Patrick Shafto, Hyowon Gweon, Isabel Chang, Sydney Katz, & Laura Schulz, Cognition, 2011.
How does explicit instruction affect exploratory play and learning? We present a model that captures pedagogical assumptions (adapted from Shafto and Goodman, 2008) and test the model with a novel experiment looking at 4-year-olds’ exploratory play in pedagogical and non-pedagogical contexts. Our findings are consistent with the model predictions: preschool children limit their exploration in pedagogical contexts, spending most of their free play performing only the demonstrated action. By contrast, children explore broadly both at baseline and after an accidental demonstration. Thus pedagogy constrains children’s exploration for better and for worse; children learn the demonstrated causal relationship but are less likely than children in non-pedagogical contexts to discover and learn other causal relationships.
Education, Knowledge, and the Righting of Wrongs. Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti, Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 2012.
In this paper, I present four metaphors or narratives that unapologetically raise “a thousand questions” about education and do not provide any clear cut answers. My intention is to raise the stakes in our collective struggle with the joys, challenges and dilemmas involved in enacting education beyond historical patterns that have cultivated unsustainable and harmful forms of collective relationships and have limited human possibilities for imagining (and doing) otherwise. My own focus in this paper is concerned particularly with the urgency of imagining education in ways that can pluralize possibilities for relationships in the present with a view of pluralizing possibilities for collective futures (Nandy, 2000) that may enable a “non- coercive relationship with the excluded ‘Other’ of Western humanism” (Gandhi, 1998, p. 39).
Schooling the World: Exploring the critical course on sustainable development through an anthropological lens. Helen Kopnina, International Journal of Educational Research, 2013.
This article reflects on formal education for sustainable development (ESD), demonstrating how critical course on culturally diverse ways of relating to nature can contribute both to an appreciation of alternative ways of relating to nature and to a more nuanced understanding of one’s own cultural and ideological positioning. This article will focus on the analysis of student reactions to the film Schooling the World, shown to students as part of this critical course. The film stimulated the discussion of the effects of Western-style education on indigenous communities. In their evaluation, the students have demonstrated their critical ability to look beyond their own neoliberal education and cosmopolitan culture. The course described in this article can serve as a blueprint for educational initiatives that combine both ethnographic insights and critical scholarship addressing environmental education and ESD.
Progress Can Kill: How Imposed Development Destroys the Health of Tribal Peoples. Survival International, 2007.
Across the world, from the poorest to the richest countries, indigenous peoples today experience chronic ill health. They endure the worst of the diseases that accompany poverty and, simultaneously, many suffer from ‘diseases of affluence’– such as cancers and obesity – despite often receiving few of the benefits of ‘development’. Diabetes alone threatens the very survival of many indigenous communities in rich countries. Indigenous peoples also experience serious mental health problems and have high levels
of substance abuse and suicide. The Pikangikum Indians of Ontario, for example, have a suicide rate nearly 40 times the national Canadian average. But indigenous peoples have not always been so unwell, and those who live independent lives on their own lands, eating traditional foods, continue to be healthy and strong. These groups may be poor in monetary terms, but are rich in many other ways. They typically have many of the characteristics that have been found to raise happiness, including strong social relationships, stable political systems, high levels of trust and support, and religious or spiritual beliefs, which give their lives meaning. A study exploring happiness and ‘life satisfaction’ found a high score among a traditional group of Maasai who had resisted colonial attempts to change their way of life and who had largely avoided the market economy. The Maasai had a similar life satisfaction rating to those on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Tribal peoples who have suffered colonisation, forced settlement, assimilation policies and other forms of marginalisation and removal from ancestral lands almost always experience a dramatic decline in health and wellbeing. Dislocation from their land is almost always coupled with rising illness. ‘In general, the most devastating contact situations seem to have been associated with dispossession from the land’ (Kunitz 1994:178). This report explores the reasons why landless and ‘assimilated’ tribal peoples today suffer such high levels of physical and mental illness. There are many factors that can tip a group from an independent, healthy life to dependency and early death, but underlying them all is a loss of rights over their ancestral land and poverty created by the loss of an independent livelihood.
The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Barbara Rogoff. Oxford University Press, 2003.
The Anthropology of Learning in Childhood, David Lancy, John Bock, Suzanne Gaskins, eds. Altamira Press, 2011.
Power and Place: Indian Education in America, Vine Deloria, Jr. and Daniel R. Wildcat, Fulcrum Publishing, 2001.
Look to the Mountain, An Ecology of Indigenous Education, Gregory Cajete, Kivaki Press, 1994.
Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior, Christopher Boehm, Harvard University Press, 1999.
Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods: Evolutionary, Developmental, & Cultural Perspectives, Edited by Barry S. Hewlett and Michael e. Lamb, Transaction Publishers, 2005.
OPEN ACCESS JOURNALS
IK: Other Ways of Knowing
An electronic, multidisciplinary peer-reviewed open access journal that publishes original research articles as well as review articles in all areas of indigenous knowledge from a global perspective. The journal is published twice yearly by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries, and is co-sponsored by the Penn State Libraries and the Penn State Interinstitutional Center for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK).
Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society
An undisciplinary, peer-reviewed, online Open Access journal committed to supporting and advancing decolonization scholarship, practice, and activism within and, more importantly, beyond and against, the academy.
An open access international academic journal focused on the theory, philosophy and practice of educational alternatives, including alternatives to mainstream practices of education and schooling – home schooling, home education, and de-schooling – and alternative approaches within mainstream practices of education and schooling – alternative conceptions and practices of schooling, democratic schools, student voice, student-centred education, and the like.
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