Unit 5 – Technology and Culture in Rural Schools

Alas, I am going to twist this assignment a bit, this because I find many of the “Atlases” to be static and imitative rather than innovative and participatory.  For me the key is precisely the Alaska DOE – “Technology Standards” in Alaska Student Content Standards web site and the call for “both and” we saw in the First Alaskans Institute – “2006 Alaska Native Student Vitality: Community Perspectives on Supporting Student Success“.  The Technology Standards are brilliant – look at the verbs: “use, manage, diagnose, choose, select, solve, create, convey, evaluate, discriminate, demonstrate, examine, and integrate.”  Perhaps these are pedantic in a way that a Grandmother or Grandfather’s language would not be but these are the behaviors they seek in a young person learning to subsist on the land.  Alas, when I look at many of the Atlases, I am looking at just so many books – sure, books published on the web, but they remain books.  Perhaps the process was incredibly valuable yet not reflected in the product and hence many of these would fail the technology standards.  The assignment calls for me to evaluate various atlases from the technology standards.  I choose instead to re-write the assignment.  Most of the required readings miss the fun, fascination, satisfaction, and amazement that “geeking out” on technology offers the human spirit.  In addition many of these I see a simple mapping of an older way of thinking onto a newer technology, for example, steel replaces slate but it is still an ulu.  Culture must be transformative, adaptive, and innovative if it is to remain vibrant and yet often we react like Luddites and reject outright or as I mention above simply adapt the new technology to an old solution.  In truth, I too am casting about in the dark here because I understand the corrosive effects of change for the sake of change and yet I cannot help myself “geeking out.”  So none-the-less one additional criteria that I am looking for is “geek appeal.”  To make sense of this let me offer a technology curriculum from my own experience.

I will first introduce the work of Chris Dede using augmented reality with middle school students in Boston throught his EcoMuve and EcoMOBILE curriculum modules.  For me the EcoMOBILE program touches on and offers solutions for so many of the concerns we have encountered in our readings throughout this course.  These two units address A: 1-4 explicitly we can see the learners doing this throughout the videos.  A:5 is more difficult to see, but, it is no stretch of imagination to see how it would play out, computers always need to be restarted, or reconnected to Wi-Fi, mobile devices too, or they lose track of satellites and need time to reconnect.  In the later part of the EcoMUVE video we see learners creating posters or concept maps and we get a sense that the work of B is being done.  Certainly, we see C addressed in the EcoMOBILE video where students use a variety of data gathering tools, not just the phones, to observe, analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions.  Likewise, we see the learners doing D: 2-3 and we can imagine them engaging in 1as well.  We see nothing of E occurring in the videos but most of this is a matter of being self-conscious of the technology and the learning and talking about that self-consciousness.  Although cultural bias that is overly accepting or overly critical of technology could either, preclude this self-reflection or bog the entire curriculum down with extreme self-reflection.

Nevertheless, all of this misses just how much geek appeal augmented reality has.  It is easy to imagine another layer in both these experiences where cultural knowledge is part of the augmentation.  Recall the man in the video “Passing On” talking about how visiting a place reminded an elder of stories and knowledge connected to that place.  The elder was the mobile device and his memories the augmented reality, the hotspot the particular place.  Dede’s two curriculums lack the ability to be re-written or enhanced as they learners use them but such a technology does not seem too far-fetched.  Actually, the software offered by Wikitude shows one way to do a portion of this work.  Said differently, the student actually contributes to the knowledge base adding richness and complexity to the data set.  Therefore, a second criterion that is emerging is that educational technology be plastic enough to be informed by the user.  Dede’s two resources offer high geek appeal and high interactivity.

Returning to the required reading several “atlases” catch my attention as meeting the state criteria, having geek appeal, and being participative and innovative: MapTEACH, Aboriginal Mapping Network, Project Jukebox, and the Virtual museum.

MapTEACH, has real geek appeal potential hence my initial interest and resonance.  I immediately searched the site for examples of student work, and, was disappointed.  The maps presented are not interactive in anyway, simply static images.  This was quite disappointing since I wanted to “unpack” the learners’ process in my own process of discovery.  I turned next to the Curriculum tab.  Here we learn of the two central goals: “(1) understand the physical and cultural features of their environment, and (2) use mapping technologies to enhance and portray that new understanding.”  This is accomplished through five sections: Place Names and Landmarks, Remote Sensing and Geology, Global Positioning Systems, Geographic Information Systems, and Google Earth.  The sections on GPS and GIS are most obviously relevant to the state technology standards.  Moreover, when I view the individual lesson plans the authors include the correlation to Alaska standards.  So much of this work is done for the teacher and given the time, pressures teachers operate under I think this is very valuable.  Similarly, the website provides data sets to use with the software.  The instructions for download and installation are quite good and even a technophobe should be able to execute them.  Most schools have access to Mac or PC desktop machines and so the site provides software for both systems.  In addition, the curriculum authors realize that not all schools will have access to GPS and so they indicate that the curriculum can be modified for individual circumstances.  However, they do detail a make and model of GPS that they recommend for use with the curriculum.  This resource has good “geek appeal” and good potential for interactivity.

Turning to the Aboriginal Mapping Network this is a Canadian focused resource.  This is not so much a curriculum as clearinghouse of materials focused on this method of knowledge creation and transmission and cultural preservation.  It also offers a forum to registered users, however, activity seems limited.  The most recent post on the general forum was more than six months ago.  Following the link to “The Living Atlas” we find six sets of data for groups across Canada.  Review of a couple of these was mixed.  One map had navigation that worked to refine ones search and the interactive links on the maps worked popping up embedded YouTube videos with interesting content.  A second was simply a mess and nothing meaningful could be gotten from the interface.  In truth this is a web resource in decline back in 2006 the content was fresh in 2014 it is looking neglected.  Perhaps a teacher looking to augment their work could find resources to use here but, unlike the MapTEACH this site is aimed at a different audience and so would require a lot of work to be translated to the classroom and even more to show how it connects to the technology standards.  Too, from the eyes of my consulting role at CIA I am forced to be critical of this resource as well.  This site in its heyday could well have been useful to a tribal government both for cultural programming and educational programming as this resource is aimed more broadly at communities and adult learners.  This resource had low “geek appeal” and low interactivity.

Project Jukebox is an archive really.  And that has great value, but, it too is focused on the product the web presentation, not on the process or the interaction of learners and technology.  However, it seems to be maintained and with new and ongoing projects.  It shares the values of linking places and people through songs, and stories.  I think as a teacher I would see the value and strength of this as informing some of the MapTEACH curriculem and inspiring and role modeling what some of the assignments are about.  Seeing the interviewing techniques in action and what is possible from using such facilitated conversation approaches is one value of this resource.  On its own it touches on some of the technology standards: B: 1, 2, 3, and many aspects of E, a thoughtful teacher might be able to create additional links to other facets of the standards.  Similarly in the Tribal Government context their could be a lot of value in this initiative first as a resource but second as a way to build community through developing a project in conjunction with the Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program.  Possibly, for a deeply conflicted and divided community, Haines for example, a project might create or identify elements of common ground and open up dialogue.  This resource has moderate “geek appeal” particularly where they talk about using the old Macintosh Hyper-card database to manage the oldest resources, it has moderate to high interactivity but, that is only on the consumer side since there is no way to create or modify real time content.

Turning to the Virtual Museum site, we see a site with two clear purposes: first, a resource for the two Kalskag villages to share information about the area, traditions and culture.  Second: a resource for educators on Place Based projects in the curriculem.  I think these two purposes sit well together.  It seems like the teacher did her work on oneside of the site while the students did theirs on the other and the two work as kind of a conversation but also as way for each to be accountable.  So, in a very real sense we see the process and it is better than the product if I judge the product alone I am at once critical of the spelling, of the sloppy camara work, lack of intepretive guides, basically of the rough edges.  But, when once I explored the teachers side I found myself more generous in evaluating the entire project.  In particular in the Teachers log, May 5th “Returning to Kalskag from presenting this masters project at the University in Fairbanks; I found an afterschool program had sprouted making web pages.”  Students were motivated to perpetuate the creation of content and presentation on their own outside the classroom.  It is not an easy archealogy to find the technology standards throughout this project, however, this quote tells us volumes about the competencies the teacher was able to achieve.  Once I stumbled upon the teachers podcast section it was easier to see the details of the technology standards in action.  In the end this site is really valuable, but, most web research will pass it over on first look since on the surface it is quite… homemade.  This resource intially has low “geek appeal” but after viewing the podcasts and realizing what this teacher accomplished with such limited resources a more generous rating is appropriate.  Interactivity and customizability of the website is low, but, other evidence points to the students own process with these aspects of technology.

Above I’ve evaluated five different resources, one that I brought to the table, the other four from the required reading.  I have introduced two additional criteria to evaluate projects with and used them with each curriculem/resource.  The work remaining in this paper is “illustrate how you would be able to use technology in a similar fashion to enhance learning in a culturally responsive way.”  Again it is extremely unlikely that I will be in the classroom in a traditional “teacher” role.  So, again I am having to twist the assignment to my own ends and experience.

I see several key points of contact for Tribal government and small school in the above examples, first, is the organic outgrowth of an after-school program as a result of the virtual museum project, second, is the need for GPS equipment in the MapTEACH curriculum, and in the EcoMUVE/EcoMOBILE curriculum the software and mobile devices.  I am getting at cooperation in funding and circumstance.  Certainly an easy solution is for the Tribal government to purchase the needed equipment for the school.  But, that looses sight of the pervasiveness of life-long learning and of culture, curriculum, and community.  So, instead what if the Tribe purchases the handheld GPS devices for the library.  The library can check these out just like computers, calculators, headphones or mobile devices.  The entire community can benefit and yet the school can still access the devices as well, since many libraries have borrowing agreements with schools and teachers.  Likewise the library or community center becomes a possible location for enrichment programs or extension of school programs.  For example the EcoMUVE/EcoMOBILE curriculum is too much for a single teacher in a small school, but, with partnership between Tribe, library/community center, and potential for greater human resource eases the burden.  Running it as an after-school, or summer enrichment program builds community cohesion in part because the young people see what is possible right at home.  Certainly I am thinking of avoiding brain drain but I am also thinking about the young people telling their stories in earlier readings about going to church to sing, or the gym to play basketball and that being the scope of after-school activities, a bleak and repetitive future.  Another possibility of running a program like this is negotiating with Chris Dede to modify the software so that it is region specific and so that it might offer some sort of cultural overlay.  This has even more clout and potential if partnerships with several villages can be created.  This in turn re-introduces the Axe Handle Academy, in particular the matter of bio-regionalism.  A partnership of some sort with the Harvard graduate school of Education brings to bear some fantastic resources.  Moreover with an emphasis on bio-regionalism it casts small schools in a leadership position for a nation that seems to have forgotten its connection to the land.

Bio-regionalism is for me a conflicted school of thought.  Obviously it has impacted my thinking and can be seen implicit in the three sample curriculum I wrote for an earlier assignment: First Aid, Orienteering and Navigation, and Images of Exploration.  The conflict, for me, arises when bio regionalism is partnered with conservative or Luddite tendencies.  “Conservative” for me speaks more to a posture that one assumes towards inquiry, I call it facing the past, then to a political affiliation.  Obviously this is vexed point in this essay since we know how important the role of Elders is to cultural survival and continuity.  I see facing the past as maladaptive when it reifies the roles of teacher, or sets a particular narrative outside the critical discourse, for examples.  If instead we have an Elder who faces the past in-order to back into the future – I wonder if that keeps curiosity, life-long learning, and the give and take between younger and older persons as a central values.  Similarly I have little patience for Luddite ranting and yet I well understand the absurdity of “change for the sake of change.”  So, I think we need to go in the direction of appropriate technology.  This is a hard task since it swims against the current of consumerism and yet still participates in consumption.  In saying this I hear echos of “both and” as well as of the Amish, “in the world but not of the world.”  Appropriate technology is an inquiry classed as a kind of ethics – and so is about right living.  One element of that is diversity and variability.  And so the questions remain to be answered time and again really a good fit for this issue of small schools, curriculum and community.

I found myself drawn to the photo-essay in the virtual museum, about transportation in the village, pictured were four-wheelers, motorcycles, and snow-machines.  Notably lacking were boats, and yet in other essays pictures of fishing from boats were present.  Also strikingly absent were any human powered conveyances, so shoes and backpacks, skis, and snowshoes, or canoes, for examples.  Also missing were domesticated animals, obviously dog teams and sleds, but also reindeer which have a presence in that region.  In fairness to the essayist we do not know the challenge that he/she posed to him/herself.  Why did the teacher accept just this limited story?  Perhaps she did not, perhaps she challenged the student, as we know sometimes learners are not open to such pressures.  But one possible interpretation is that the young person put these conveyances in a privileged place and chose to celebrate these devices over others.  And to my mind this is the work in section E of the State technology standards.  Here is a perfect opportunity to have a rich conversation with the entire group of learners (young, mid-life, and old) about these technologies too. All to often we imagine that “technology” refers only to the most cutting edge devices and we lose track of knives, for example, as technology.

As a brief aside I would like to link back to the role of community center/library as a site for usafruct employment of cutting edge technology.  In particular it is easy to imagine a 3d printer in the library, and an enterprising young person downloading the plans for using the device to print a snow machine part.  And this in turn brings to the conversation the notion of “MakerSpace.”  This, to my mind is nothing but a recycled notion from the days of quilting bees or shared shop space  but none-the-less here it is and it is completely appropriate for us to wrangle with this as part of our culture, community, curriculum conversation.  I believe that Tribal governments partnered with public libraries and small schools can through judicious grant writing and program creation create reasons for folks to stay in villages with a greatly enhanced sense of self-sufficiency.

Finally, I would like to twist the conversation once more to introduce the debate between curriculum’s: STEAM not STEM.  The heart of STEAM’s logic are these four statements:

  • Arts education is a key to creativity, and
  • Creativity is an essential component of, and spurs innovation, and
  • Innovation is, agreed to be necessary to create new industries in the future, and
  • New industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic well-being.

So what do we mean by “art”?  In, this case I do think it refers to the classic disciplines, painting, sculpture, music, theater and dance.  But, for our purposes I think we can twist it to mean more broadly traditional life-ways of Alaska Natives.  I believe that we have a very interesting opportunity to accomplish “both-and” when we situate bio-regionalism, STEM, and Alaska Native cultural literacy in adjacency.  Certainly, the future will not look like the past, but, we may well be able to sustain cultural identity in new and innovative ways.  The STEM to STEAM website offers a number of case studies, I offer for our purposes the Institute of Play + Mission Lab case study.  The video on that page is in many ways as heartening as the EcoMUVE/EcoMOBILE videos and in part I think this is because they share the “gamification” of content.  “Part of what we do is identify pieces of content that students have trouble learning, and when those areas come up, we work as a team to brainstorm ways to design a game that will help kids really learn and remember those content areas.”  However, more than just this is the collaboration between game designers, curriculum designers and classroom teachers.  Here we see very different ways of thinking about problems and solutions coming together focused on solving particular sticking points in learning.  Behind all of this is the resources of the Institute of Play partnered with the likes of MIT, and funded by MacArthur money.  Their website offers many free resources.  Again, Alaska runs on grants and very probably Tribal governments could take a leadership role in funding collaboration between these incredibly innovative resources and the traditional values of bio-region and cultural knowledge.  I believe with such collaborations between small schools and large and or distant resources like Institute of Play are very realistic and possible.

I think that the EcoMUVE/EcoMOBILE curriculums and the innovative work of the Institute of Play are deeply interesting.  The implications for rural Alaska are potentially quite significant as communities could reverse some of the brain drain.  They could, as well, deepen and enrich the local culture particularly if these… interventions occurred in sites of life-long learning.  In addition, in many communities these sites already exist community centers, libraries, shared shop spaces, churches even.  Moreover, I think that taking advantage of “geek appeal” in some of these amazing technologies could well inspire local economies as young people find ways to both be their ethnicity and to participate in the global economy.

Unit 4 – The Role of Elders in Education

My Grandfather, Herb Francis, grew up in the roaring 20’s and the Depression. And for me, he, his values, provided a counter point to other male role models, negative role models in my life. His presence in my life offered me the possibility of being someone other than what my conditions required of me. I owe any success as a parent, as a husband, as a professional to his presence in my life. That said, his shit stank too. And it is from this perspective that I begin exploring this unit on Elders.

I think a fruitful place for me to start this work is Wilson’s paper “Not Just Knowledge but a Way of Looking at the World,” in particular, the “survival pact” and the notion of community healing.

The pact covered such areas as sharing and distributing of food and making sure that traditional ceremonies were carried out in the correct order, with no omissions. As this survival pact was responsible for more than basic survival, but for the mental and spiritual well-being of the community, it may be more accurate to call the pact the tradition of the people (Peter, 1989). The concept of traditions implies a more inclusive base, both historical and comprehensive, for this unspoken understanding which the more narrow concept of rules may not. The traditions were not rigidly enforced or restrictive but allowed for community-sanctioned flexibility to meet the individual needs and differing circumstances faced in the community and in the environment (Berger, 1985). These traditions included psychological and sociological survival skills that were necessary for strong kinship ties, solid leadership, and physically and psychologically healthy people (LaDue, Marcelley & Van Brunt, 1981). Thus the traditions were seen as the foundation of a healthy community, rather than merely what was necessary for its survival (Katz & Craig, 1987). It was the job of the Elders in the community to interpret the rules and tradition and to ensure that these rules were passed to the next generation.

I suspect that the meaningful difference between the “survival pact” and more broadly culture is that the pact is essentially the difference that makes a difference. So, in business parlance, the mission and core values are what uniquely identify a group. But, hearkening back to my thinking in the last paper, so do the site-specific skills required in a particular ecosystem for survival and more thriving – after all “healthy community” suggests more than mere survival.

As long ago as the seventeenth century, Sagard, noted that the Native way of life was conducive to serenity and the avoidance of tensions which plagued whites. “What also helps them much to keep in health,” he wrote, “is the harmony which prevails amongst them and the older people in their tribes” (Sagard, 1939). Studies have already shown that some indigenous peoples believe that they possess methods of intervention within their own communities (Mohatt & Blue, 1982). They believe that although Native people face more social and psychological problems, they have the traditional methods to both prevent and treat these problems if given the proper environment to nourish their skills. Red Horse (1982) looks at the prevention of mental health problems in Native communities through the use of a community model. He believes that the interaction between the individual and the community is vital to an understanding of American Indian mental health. As a part of understanding the community model, it is important to understand the role that the extended family plays in the community.

In my last paper, I touched on the issue, the role of leadership. I suggested that many of us have roles as leaders. Leadership has in part the task of diagnosing problems in group dynamics, and that leadership looks different based on style, temperament, and situational needs. Much of that seems apparent as well in Wilson’s exploration of community healing. I think to understand this we have to set aside our Western theories of sense of self and explore more deeply a traditional Native sense of self. “Self” is always an aspect of relations, social and ecological, implicit to both are spiritual relations as well. For example, a person’s name traditionally was in part relational, so, “Ryan, my nephew-in-law”… or I suppose someone in no way related to me would be “John the stranger.” The point remains that my own sense of self is in no small way known through my name a part of which changes each time I am addressed depending upon who addresses me. Certainly, this doesn’t explain all of the power of “community healing” but it suggests a way to start understanding the potential.

The spiral logic of Elders’ communication is at times inscrutable to Western observers. I offer for example Nutemllput – Our Very Own. Approached from either my philosophy background or my business background I can make little sense of Paul John’s arguments since the patterns of form and evidence are alien to Western logic and argumentation. Rather my ability to make sense of Paul John, or the elders in Passing On arises first from my experiences with Herb — his narrative also struggling with the bounds of logic and evidence and second John Schumacher another mentor pointing me to David Bohm:

There is the germ of a new notion of order here. This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular arrangement of objects (e.g., in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now, the word ‘implicit’ is based on the verb ‘to implicate’. This means ‘to fold inward’ … so we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each region contains a total structure ‘enfolded’ within it”. (Holograms and implicate order, Wikipedia, Bohm, David (1980), Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-7100-0971-2, pg 149)

The logic of synecdoche. Roby Littlefield in the essay “Elders in the Classroom” also through the use of “metaphor” shows my meaning:

Most traditional stories are like a round, crocheted pot holder. The storyteller goes round and round the subject until it all comes together and finally comes to the lesson or point. Be patient, allow the Elders to share their culture in their own way. Your students are learning how to listen. Students should refrain from interrupting to ask questions. There will be a proper time to ask questions.

It is in this way that I can make sense of what Elders like Paul John are saying and our task as learners is to unfold, to make explicit in our own thinking the meaningfulness of Elders’ teaching or our own experiences – the part manifests the whole. Hence the whole community bears responsibility for and a curative role in an individual’s substance abuse/depression/violence/suicide. Throughout our readings, a shared value of Alaska Natives has been “conflict avoidance”. In the quote above Wilson shows Sagard saying “harmony which prevails amongst them”. “Harmony” is defined as “the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords.” But for this to be meaningful is the fact that the tones are different and that the musical effect arrives from them being situated together – implicitly the potential for conflict, or rather discord. Too we know that “conflict avoidance” at its most extreme can be complicity, codependency, and toxicity. So let’s imagine that the Yupik value of avoiding conflict is a synecdoche that we have to unfold to understand. Conflict itself is normal in human interactions perhaps more or less pronounced but always a potential. For many of us conflict is a problem once trust and respect have been violated. So perhaps what the heart of “avoiding conflict” is about is managing you and your response to conflict so that trust and respect are preserved. Indeed the language of these other value sets often explicitly call for “respect” and “trust” but also gentleness, humor, and dignity. In the document “Additional Native Values” we find the Eskimo Cultural Values, the legacy of Paul Tiutana, saying: “Our ancestor did not know criminals/People who do wrong are corrected on the spot.” Remembering back to our first readings, Okakok, shares a story of being scolded by an Aunt for not nurturing their relationship: “When I took my father there for a visit I was soundly scolded for visiting only when I had a purpose — in this instance, taking my father to see her. Although I was living in the same town, I had not nurtured my relationship with my aunt with intermittent, spontaneous visits.” Being scolded is a potentially conflicted situation, yet I suspect, that by confronting and correcting the little stuff in a way that preserves trust and respect crime or the potential for crime is prevented – or said differently “Avoiding Conflict.”

The second part of this assignment calls for us to make something real based on knowledge of values and the importance of Elders to cultural health and survival. I will draw again upon my work with the Chilkoot Indian Association (CIA), alas, not on something that we did but something we discussed. I think that one of the most striking elements of my visit can be summarized in the question: “what does the CIA do, or make?” There was a discrepancy between many tribal members expectations, the employees of the Association, and what is feasible at that place and time (this continuum extends to Washington, DC, Juneau, and Haines, town politics, it includes socio-economics, even personalities and skill sets of particular individuals). I as the consultant from out of town viewed the CIA and its various departments and saw an organization much like any other government. There were departments monitoring or creating youth programs, there were units aimed at roads and transportation, environmental issues, and construction. Another striking feature of the conversation was a recurrent theme from the CIA employees about the absence of leadership skills and absence of a mechanism for creating the next generation of leaders. And as I pointed out previously we were also acutely aware of the advanced acculturation.

So far in our discussion of curriculum/community/culture, there is a glaring absence and that is mid-life learners. Barnhardt touches on the learning that teachers experience as they do this work in his essay, Teaching/Learning across Cultures. But, in the video Passing On, we meet Cecilia Martz a Cupik educator and for me, these questions about mid-life learners crystallized again and took me back to the work with the CIA. Obviously, we have roles and titles for children and students, and we have roles and titles for Elders, but what about all the rest of us somewhere in the middle. Russell Means offers us one possible mid-life role that of the warrior. Cecilia Martz offers us the educator self-conscious of her circumstance between her students and her Elders. My point in this is that there are roles and titles for all community members throughout their lifetime – some of these exist already and some we need to re-discover. In that work with the CIA, it was this mid-life area that we felt we could see a gap and a place to do and make.

Tribal council members are elected from those eligible and interested tribal members. Election, however, is not the same as ready to go to work. Appropriate communication skills were one example of an area needing development – both a command of Roberts rules of orders, but, on the softer side those same skills that let us navigate conflict while maintaining trust and respect. Certainly, there were other skill sets that needed development as these leaders took on their roles, but, for the sake of this discussion, we will focus on communication here.

The council is comprised of four, perhaps five, task driven roles, President, Vice-president, Treasurer, Secretary and representative to SEARCH (Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium) and three general members. Our brainstorming focused on creating a career path so that the general members were elected and then served on committees that exposed them to the work of all roles, we explored the potential of the intern like relationships between these general members and the named roles. We explored the potential for retreats, for skill building and team building workshops and as I mentioned in the last paper for SPOC (small private online course) through the tribal online learning management system. We discussed creating training that supported the work of the specialized Treasurer and Secretary roles as well. Another pathway to leadership creation was to connect the work of the youth interns hired by the Association with the work and the members of the Tribal council. This hopefully mirroring the tradition of Elders and creating a feed-forward/ feedback loop crossing generations. As I mentioned previously the connection between young people and Elders seemed limited and to flow in one direction. Our hope was to build in the next generation a relationship where trust and respect flowed in both directions. It was out of this that other elements of our brainstorming grew, for example, making more of the Dragonfly program partnered between the tribe and Haines Public Library.

As with any organization, pride and politics were stumbles that prevented crucial conversations. Part of my presence, my role as the consultant, was to say when I saw that the “Emperor had no clothes.” I have phrased this elsewhere as the task of leaders in diagnosing what ails the community. This allowed the tribal Administrator and staff to be the heroes and for any irritation to be pointed at the “white-guy-from-away.” Here, thinking back to my concerns about conflict avoidance that is actually toxic and culturally maladaptive, this was a serious concern in the highly politicized community of Haines. The Tribal administrator and the Association were seriously hampered by a Tribal council with insufficient skills for the work they needed to do and yet the Tribal administrator had no way to raise this matter. And in the end that is where the matter ended because evaluating the performance of the Tribal council was outside the purview of the Tribal association because no feedback/feed-forward loop existed and creating one required trust and respect that did not exist.

Returning to Cecilia Martz’s interview in Passing On we encounter this struggle to articulate the need for and ways to approach Elders for access to knowledge, at 4:20 -4:57 is one example. For me, the more tricky issue is the story from 7:38 – 8:50 where Cecilia had partial knowledge of a song lyric. For some reason simply asking for the rest of the lyric was inappropriate. Rather she describes approaching a group of Elders sitting and chatting. In a conversational lull she sang the lyric she remembered and stopped, then one of the Elders picked up and finished the song. Cecilia sang the whole through to show that she had it and to ask if she had it – which she did. She then gracefully timed her exit to go off and document the lyric and iron it into memory. For me, this is both a beautiful moment and an incredibly tenuous one because at this moment the survival pact can work or it can break. What if no Elder finished the song? What if Cecilia did not show perfect memory? What if Cecilia had not understood what she heard and memorized? How is she to interrogate the knowledge to make it truly hers? This was an incredibly subjective moment, incredibly fragile and I think a large part of the dysfunction that was present in Haines. When it work it works beautifully and when it fail it is catastrophic because we are talking about cultural extinction not just a point of personal ignorance. In truth I can only marvel at this I do not pretend to have solutions.

However, I can offer that in my current job one of the skills I bring to the task is building relationships with other campus departments, my counterparts in the Physical plant, in ITS, Special Programs, Communications and the list goes on. This is some of what I hear Teri Schneider saying when she talks about how to approach an Elder and taking the time to get to know them and they you before the matter of asking anything of them comes up. She talks about introducing herself in terms of her family – even though her family is from Des Moines, for example, and the Elder has no idea who they are. But what matters is the knowledge of family tree and the implicit knowledge of self-realized in a relationship, the logic of synecdoche as it were. Another point Teri makes is that of patience her examples tread in that area that I describe above trusting conflict avoidance and people to work things out in their own time. In my workplace creating personal capital through taking interest in a co-workers beekeeping, or hunting, or building banjos from scratch, allows us to navigate those higher stakes conversations, to speak directly yet respectfully. Patience, although not talked about a lot in management/leadership literature particularly in this era of decisions at the speed of light, is a particularly important attribute/skill even in Western culture. In truth, I suspect that is why my work with the CIA, described above, did not grow legs. The local-white-guys were impatient and wanted to show progress immediately. Returning to Barnhardt Teaching/Learning across Cultures, “If you encounter situations of apparent social breakdown and dysfunctionality, be especially careful to exercise discretion and obtain the views of others before you take any precipitous action.” Part of what I hear here is what Teri says in Passing On, and Barnhardt as well:

Two of the most useful steps a new teacher can take to begin to see beyond the surface features of a new cultural community are getting to know some of the elders or other culture-bearers and becoming familiar with aspects of the local language. By visiting elders in the community, you will be giving evidence of your respect for the bearers of the local culture, while at the same time you will be learning about the values, beliefs, and rules of cultural behavior that will provide a baseline for your teaching. Showing enough interest in the local language or dialect to pick up even a few phrases and understand some of its structural features will go a long way toward building your credibility in the community and in helping you recognize the basis for local variations on English language use in the classroom.

For me the lesson is to trust my instincts and once we relocate to Alaska, to begin to build those relationships throughout the community in order to have the social capital to speak directly and honestly, humbly and respectfully. These conversations will, in turn, let me know that my diagnosis is in line with local leaders’ assessments. Also to be patient yet persistent in moving projects ahead even incrementally each day. Finally remembering the importance that Herb had for me, but more, remembering his frailties and failings, that “his shit stank too” to anticipate my own potential for mistakes and my plan for making them right.

Unit 3 – Curricula Adapted to Native Cultures

Here I will first review and read critically five of the required curriculums taking into account Barnhardt’s essay, Teaching/Learning Across Cultures. The second task, more difficult for me since I am not a teacher, is to select one of the curriculums and explore implementing it in classroom/school/community.

Alas, I am not responding well to the “The Athabaskans: People of the Boreal Forest.” I struggle with how book driven the content knowledge is. I recall Ongtooguk’s criticism: “But as I became acquainted with the literature, I was also surprised at what was not included: Alaska Native perspectives about the gold miner, the commercial fisheries, the sale of Alaska, and the critical aspects of Alaskan History.” I am also struck by the rates of Alaska Natives classified as “students with disabilities:” “Of all Alaska Natives enrolled during the 2005-2005 school year, 17.5 percent were classified as students with disabilities, whereas 12.4 percent of all non-Native students enrolled were classified as having disabilities.” Reading is not the only skill affected by learning disabilities but it is often. So, taken together literature frequently lacking Native perspectives and learners struggling with reading “The Athabaskans” seems to miss a couple key points of the problem from the get go.

Too, as I read through the curriculum I was struck by the heavy weight on “Teacher Objectives”: What about learners? Most of the assignments were worded with language like: “define,” “answer,” and “understand” only a few called upon learners to “do,” “make,” or “show.” This shows an implicit bias towards Western values and schooling and troubles me whether we are talking about Native, or non-Native learners. While I am suspicious and critical of this guide I do think there are bits worth noting. For example part A, section C, asks learners to read from various sources and to consciously switch between points of view. On one hand this stretches to the “cultural eclecticism” relevated in previous course work, but, it is dependent upon reading to teach the skills and values and hence is embedded in Western schooling. I do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are some good resources and some interesting ideas here, but, to simply implement the guide without critical thought would be, I think, a recipe for classroom failure.

I suspect the critical framework Teaching/Learning Across Cultures raises at least two issues with this teacher’s guide: first, has to do with cultural immersion, second with context of learners. This curriculum seems content heavy and that I think would make a teachers move into the community more awkward both as a pseudo-expert and out of balance in answering the tough questions of “Why am I here?” and “Who am I?” For, a “white-guy-from-away” it would be easy to fall into the pattern of reading/studying the recommended resources rather than engaging in the process of tentative generalizations and personal discovery – the misplaced concreteness of knowledge derived from books and reading.

The sheer size of the Innuqatigitt curriculum is potentially off-putting. Too, at first glance it seems to be packaged for a Western audience. A deeper look quickly gets past that snap judgment. I was pleased to see an extensive list of Native advisors. I was also intrigued by the lengthy statements of values throughout this document. One exciting goal of the authors was to emphasize the shared values and life ways of the cultural sub-groups this document was created to serve, rather than belaboring the differences. Second, this is more a sourcebook than a curriculum and as such it is very interesting to read and valuable to use. I prefer this format over that of the teacher’s guide format of “The Athabaskans.” The burden of learning objectives and lesson plans is on the teacher. They have a valuable resource but not a set of recipes and so they have to actively engage with learners and community to actually create lesson plans and projects and this accomplishes the blurring of boundaries between town and gown.

While the authors are culturally inclusive, and while there are shared values between all Alaska Natives it is still important in the face of cultural extinction to not lose sight of the differences. Survival itself in particular bio-systems, arctic, boreal shield, temperate rainforest, to name a few, contributed to the uniqueness of cultural adaptations. So I would want to be cautious about mapping Innugatigitt onto Alaskan Inupiats for one example. Although that is probably a safer move than mapping it onto Athabaskans. Barnhardt is clear that a teacher entering a community needs to engage with that particular community and not generalizations about ethnicity. Barnhardt offers the advice:

By visiting elders in the community, you will be giving evidence of your respect for the bearers of the local culture, while at the same time you will be learning about the values, beliefs and rules of cultural behavior that will provide a baseline for your teaching. Showing enough interest in the local language or dialect to pick up even a few phrases and understanding some of its structural features will go a long way towards building your credibility….

Where I probably will not on my return to Alaska be entering a community as a teacher, but, perhaps still having a role in education, maybe higher education, I still see the value of this advice. My way of categorizing this is the political frame. One of the keys to my success in my current position is the personal connection I have with individuals in different departments all over campus. Also that I ask them what I can do to make their jobs and working with my staff easier. I suspect that librarians and teachers share, at least initially, the confusion about not understanding themselves as leaders in their respective communities.

The Dene Kede curriculum focuses on elementary education and yet is formidable in length all three sections combine to 275 pages, 100 and change more than the Innugtagitt document. It focuses and culturally related groups to the teacher’s guide “The Athabaskans” and is vastly superior in format and content. Similar to Innugatigitt this curriculum is an extensive statement of values and an extensive sourcebook of cultural knowledge.

Alas, as already noted, I dislike learning objectives that do not require learners to do, make, or show. Unfortunately many assignments and outcomes in the Dene Kede only require learners to “recognize”. I think this fails in creating the engagement, knowledge and skill that both Native and Western learners need. Another frustration along these lines arises from suggested teaching activities sections, for example: “Listen to tapes or see videos of dancing and drumming to discern differences in rhythm and to learn purpose.” Marshal McLuhan coined the phrase: “The message is the medium.” I fear that tapes and video speak louder than rhythm and performance. I think that drummers and dancers, real people from the community, have to interact with the learners for the values as well as the skills to be transferred. Barnhardt captures this concern but in a positive way: “Natural setting are more likely to foster mutually productive and culturally appropriate communication and interaction patterns between teacher and student, then highly structured and contrived situations created in the confines of the classroom.”

The Piniaqtavut Integrated Program is presented through a poorly formatted web page. I think this detracts from the usefulness of the resources and it seems less polished than some of the other resources. However, this presentation does serve as an archive and it makes the support publicly available so despite the shortcomings has merit.

I love the clear statement of goals for the curriculum:

  • Bilingual communication skills.
  • Pride in cultural identity.
  • Responsibility and independence.

Here we see the role of education being preparation for life rather than just preparation for my schooling. I like as well the seven aspects of the “interactive/experiential model invoked by the authors:

  • genuine dialogue between student and teacher in both oral and written modalities.
  • guidance and facilitation rather than control of student learning by the teacher.
  • encouragement of student-student talk in a collaborative learning context.
  • encouragement of meaningful language use by students rather than correctness of surface form.
  • conscious integration of language use and development with all curricular content rather than teaching language and other content as isolated subjects.
  • a focus on developing higher level cognitive skills rather than on factual recall.
  • task presentation that generates intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.

This program is self-conscious of its thematic approach both in form and content. Two additional features of the classroom play out interestingly in this curriculum: multi-grade classrooms, and a curriculum that covers K-9th grade. Frequently middle school is broken apart from elementary or lumped together with high school. In my experience as a parent it seemed that a 14 year old had more in common with a 12 year-old then with a 15 year-old and yet we often lump them together with high school age learners. The multi-grade classes seem to give these 14 year-old some opportunity to be both learners and teachers keeping them engaged in a way missed in other configurations.

Like both the Inuugatigiit and the Dene Kede curriculums this one offers broad categories, and values, but, it is very thin on specifics, on learning outcomes and light on potential activities. It assumes a lot of cultural knowledge perhaps even a high level of language skill in the Native language. A teacher would have to do a lot of lesson planning and reach out to additional resources to actually create a program for a classroom.

The Effie Kokrine Charter School Thematic Curriculum website was not immediately transparent to me. It took several return trips for me to identify the links across the top of the page as links and as having supplemental material explaining the diagram. So, initially I thought the diagram was all I had to work with. Hence my first review consisted of an extensive list of questions. I would suggest that the menu bar with the links be relocated on the page beneath the title rather than above it.

That said, I really liked this curriculum. It is a thematic approach that melds spatial landmarks with temporal landmarks, embeds skills in their actual use, accomplishes the “both/and” that many of Villegas and Prieto’s interviewees value and call for in Native education, and ties values and relationships to any of these other components. I like that it spans from 7th- through early College just because one never sees that span. Too, those 17-19 year-old can serve as positive role models for the 11 and 12 year-old creating and re-enforcing community within the school circumstance.

I liked the Sample Module although I had both questions about them and intrigue with them. It seems they are written very much to address State and Federal assessments of school accomplishment and yet somehow still get learners and teachers into the equation. I was disappointed to see under the proficiency column too much emphasis upon “say” and “tell” and not enough emphasis on “show,” “do,” and “make” alas.

All said and done I think a good teacher would have to combine several of these resources and create their own guiding document. Certainly some of these are active and impressive in unique ways but also each had weaknesses as well. I wonder however, if young teachers have the skills and the self-confidence to do that kind of work. I expect that principals and school boards weigh in heavily on a young teacher’s thinking that combined with the assignment of traveling to a remote community and immersing in a different culture – where and when would a young teacher create space for themselves to do this work?

Before I turn to the work of selecting one of the curriculums and explore implementing it in classroom/school/community, I have to wonder why no examples of syllabi from Southwestern or Southeastern groups are included here. I raise this in part because my first choices in relocating to the State are these areas. As I mentioned earlier in this paper I probably will not radically reinvent myself and seek out high school teaching opportunities. Rather, I will probably look at opportunities in higher education administration. I would like to find opportunities beyond libraries – I have had enough of that work, but, higher education is a good fit. I am intrigued by the various branch campuses of the University system. So given that context I found myself resonating with two different curriculums for very various reasons: both the Inuuqatigitt and the SPIRAL Curriculum intrigued me. As I mentioned above Innugatigitt is a statement of values and a sourcebook/outline of cultural traditions and knowledge. As such it requires a lot of a teacher. Too, where I am not going to be a teacher it requires even more of me.

I think an implicit assumption that has to be made explicit is the leadership role a teacher has in the community not just the classroom. This without using these words is at the heart of Barnhardt’s Teaching/Learning Across Cultures. Though the kind of leadership described is a transformational type rather than the more familiar transactional type that we see in military or business cases. Married to this distinction is a difference in expected outcomes rather than growth for the sake of growth the goal of a community leader is balanced and optimized improvement of individual and community identity and functionality. Said differently a leader is looking for optimization of multiple variables rather than maximization of a single variable – profit in the case of most business models. I suspect that for me as an administrator on a campus like Kodiak College, UAF’s Bethel campus, or even UASoutheast in Sitka, I would be looking for points of contact with schools, Borough or City government, but, these are obvious. I would also be looking for connections with athletic programs and facilities, with public libraries, with local businesses. Probably, my approach would first be looking inward to the resources and opportunities at hand – the local talent. But, one lesson learned through my work with the Chilkoot Indian Association, “Alaska runs on grants” guides me to think about how to attract money to these points of synergy. Certainly most people are motivated by moments of altruism but they also have to put food on the table and shoes on the kids. Again, a lesson I remember learning during my short times in State is that folks do not think about a career or work in the same way as we do in the lower-48. Rather, a career gets cobbled together from a patchwork of part-time and seasonal work. So a leader needs to remember that and build some money into the partnerships as well. But money is not the only currency. In a small community reputation, authority and influence all are important as well. A program that centers and focuses upon traditional Elders adds to an individuals’ credibility in that role. Obviously this knife cuts both ways and I would need to be incredibly sensitive to how and why the local community selects people as Elders. This to reinforce cultural integrity and to avoid overstepping perhaps setting up a competing criteria or worse competing “Elders”. In larger communities like Kodiak or Sitka that would be difficult to do but in small villages it would be pretty easy to do although the consequences would be severe in either case.

Returning to the curriculum’s, the Effie Kokrine program intrigued me in part because it blurred distinctions between high school and college. The Effie Kokrine school is in Fairbanks and as such I wonder about this from the standpoint of duplicating services that UAF may either already provide or could be partnered with to provide. Rather, I am intrigued with this as a relevant strategy for villages and small schools. Distance education is in fact easy to set up. Most internet service providers offer Moodle as part of the bundle. Indeed in my work with Chilkoot Indian Association I showed them how they could save $10,000 dollars by not purchasing their course management system from a big company but rather setting up an instance of Moodle on their domain name host site. That $10,000 dollars could instead have been spent on creating content for presentation through the Moodle interface. Certainly this could have been focused on employees as was the intention of the original grant and plan. However, it could also have been a pivot point for the entire community both Alaska Native and Western. This resource can be developed to support Adult Education through the local schools and or partnered with the University system.

My own assessment of Haines, is an extremely fractured and conflicted community, all demographics suffering from issues with trust and respect – hippies to conservatives, Chilkoot to Chilkat. So as a community leader even temporarily as a consultant working with the tribal government I was seeking fulcrums to achieve leverage. That community shared pride and identity in their public library and they shared concern in the brain drain that sending kids to college had on the community – since few returned. The library was a neutral ground that young people, no matter ethnicity, shared. It was a hotspot for connectivity, for internet access that extended beyond the school. At that time MOOCs were just on the horizon. But, what I was struggling to articulate and imagine in that situation was SPOCS (small private online courses) a marriage of young people’s fascination with creating YouTube content with archiving and transmitting cultural knowledge through appropriate use of technology. Above I fret that replacing dancers and drummers with reproductions of those activities where the technology speaks louder than the message. I wonder though in instances where cultural extinction is accelerated and local knowledge is seriously threatened if archival activities supersede such compunctions — in truth, I wonder. Haines is at an ecologic transition between southeast temperate rain-forest, and interior boreal forest and cultural border between Tlingit, Eyak and Tuchone. Hence I would expect very precise local adaptations to climate and ecology and a creative site for cultural interaction and hybridization. So while I liked both Inuuqatigitt and the Effie Kokrine school programs I want to be cautious of their tendency to generalize about cultural knowledge and practices.

My stay in Haines was brief and intense, but, some of what I observed was that the Chilkat just up river seemed to have a closer knit community and a more stable connection to traditions and traditional practices. The Chilkoot seemed to be farther along the continuum of acculturation. And as I mentioned above Haines is a tense and politicized community and this seemed to include the Alaska Natives as well. One piece of evidence for this was the joint project between public library and Chilkoot Indian Association to commission a carved pole to be raised on library property. The project ran throughout the summer and local youth participated, but, the carver was from farther south, Ketchikan I believe. The tribe seemed most interested in the association generating jobs and money, particularly dividend money rather than preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge, values and practices. Another example, we explored a number of possible projects to optimize a number of variables, rather than maximize a single one. We suggested the tribal administrator purchases a couple of log splitters. These could be rented by tribe members. Or, instead if a tribe member, cut and split a certain amount of wood for an older community member, or Elder, they could in turn use the splitter for a set amount of time free. Of course there were all kinds of practicalities and liabilities to negotiate before this could be turned into a pilot however we never got that far as we asked the tribe members employed in the office what they thought about the idea. They all thought it was great in concept but felt it would never grow legs. I, interpreting based both on what was said and what was unsaid, heard them saying that lip service to values was easy but breaking wood was work and that would kill the initiative.

We actually brainstormed a variety of pilots that pulled together the technology I saw the young people working as interns using; the culture, the place, and the Elders to try to archive knowledge and engage young people. I was stuck be the disconnection between tradition and the young people. I was reminded of a saying I heard first from a career Marine, “200 hundred years of tradition unimpeded by progress.” What I take that to mean in this situation was that the “Elders” were not willing to extend a reciprocity to the young people that “both/and” that we heard among Villegas and Prieto’s interviewees. They seemed unwilling to explore the young people’s ways of knowing and learning and rather expected that to be set aside if the young people were serious about culture. To my mind a static and once-and-for-all understanding of culture. This by comparison to the Tribe of Sitka which has a very active program for youth teaching many aspects of Tlingit lifeway and values. Yet, the same community is open minded enough to spawn a Jazz/Tlingit fusion group. Or, Juneau where an English/Tlingit version of Macbeth was performed.

Returning to Barnhardt: “If you encounter situations of apparent social breakdown and dysfunctionality, be especially careful to exercise discretion and obtain the views of others before you take any precipitous action.” Perhaps I have come across more certain than I really am in this review of Haines, and the Chilkoot. I know that three days and a handful of conversations do not a deep understanding make. First, however, I was struck with how forthcoming folks were with the “white-guy-from away.” Second, it is the work of a leader to diagnose what ails the human situation he/she is engaged with. Certainly, this diagnosis is provisional and theoretical at first. Certainly as data is collected or created those hypothesis should and will modify. Part of that data are the “views of others” that Barnhardt charges us to seek out before prescription and treatment plan is made. None-the-less a good leader has solid gut instincts for what is broken, the “content” as it were, but the “context” of the dysfunction will tell us much about the cure. And that is where the work of the leader is. Actually, the first step is to understand oneself as a leader with skills, a sense of responsibility and work ethic that extends in all pursuits. This sense of self has been eroded in American culture as we see in the book “Bowling Alone” by Robert Putnam. I wonder if Putnam’s book has a place in a class for teachers learning about themselves as leaders. Too, I wonder what leadership looks like from an Alaska Native perspective. Here I am less focused on skills like diagnosis and more on communication. I recall hearing Walter Sobeloff speak — a version of his testimony before US Congress and I was awed by his oratory. But, I’m also thinking of many Native young people who preferred to say nothing in seminars – they were being respectful, in part. Communication is a crucial leadership skill and yet we often forget that most of that is listening with the goal of understanding – not just words, but cadence, omissions, a switch to gesture.

This paper has been an interesting challenge since the focus of the work and the reading is on classroom teachers and I am not one. I believe that I reviewed five of the assigned curriculums within the critical context of Burnhardt’s essay, Teaching/Learning Across Cultures. Finally, I tried to think about how one or two of these might inform my leadership in a small Alaskan community.

Unit 2 – Curricula Adapted to Small Rural Schools

My experience as a classroom teacher is limited: many years ago, I taught an English class in an Adult Education program, and two sections of Freshman Composition at the University of North Dakota during my brief enrollment in an English Ph.D. program (I was there in 1997 when the Red River flooded, no place to relocate and raise a family). Classroom instruction was an awkward fit for me. I struggled with the role of disciplinarian and motivator in a venue that I thought should be populated by self-disciplined and intrinsically motivated learners. The other closest example of “teaching” was my role as Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop and I think that is closer to the models we are exploring in these writings – models that blur the boundaries between institutions and organizations and roles like teacher/student. In my “day job” I insist that we provide job training, mentoring and coaching to our 70 or so college work-study employees, but, that is not “classroom” instruction either. So for me the claims that classrooms and schools are not a good fit for learning and cultural preservation, as we read in these required readings, are self-evident claims.

Working as a supervisor I’ve noticed a number of performance issues that concern me: an inability to translate a specific work ethic (academics, athletics) to broader instances, life and work, for examples. I’ve observed an over-reliance on book learning for the correct answer as opposed to observational and interpretive skills to assess a situation and apply or modify a solution to fit. An ineptitude with basic tools and practical understanding of simple mechanics or materials. Associated with that, a notion that community and civic organizations are ready-made and something one simply consumes rather than something one participates in creating: leadership and communication skills seem underdeveloped. Finally, I see a loss of knowledge about history and historical life-ways. iPads, or whatever gadget is momentarily popular, have always been around and are the best way to get something done. Certainly, these are broad brush strokes and probably reflect the privileged demographic of an elite liberal arts college. However, I draw as well from my experiences in the local community watching parents and children as we raised ours. Below I offer three sketches for curriculum ideas: First Aid, Map and Compass, and Drawing. I believe that they gesture at learning that my background values and priorities.

First Aid

First aid is the immediate response given to the onset of illness or injury.

We will utilize the Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED certification as one component of this curriculum. This certification offers at least two advantages. First, it is commonly recognized and so students whether in the bush or the urban environment will be able to work with emergency response personnel. Second, it creates a framework on which to hang historic and pre-historic knowledge we acquire. But a provisional framework open to criticism and review based on Native knowledge.

Two insights inform this unit – first, that over the years of taking First Aid and CPR courses the techniques have changed. Second, reading about “Otzi” the mummified remains of a man found in the Alps roughly 5300 years old shows us some about first aid and medical treatment of the era. So from this, we understand that first aid changes as we learn about effective responses and it reflects a moment in time and place, for example, Otzi packing his arrow wound with a particular type of moss. Research may extend into areas of folklore, anthropology, and archeology to theorize and inform inquiry about traditional first aid.


  • simulated emergency scenarios and getting student to respond and interpret
  • interviews with elders and with emergency first responders
  • teaching younger students what we have learned



  • this may extend to include medicinal plants, or a bilingual exercise
  • Wilderness first responder, boating safety, or swift water rescue
  • Special emphasis upon hypothermia, drowning, or childbirth as driven by the learners

Orientation and Navigation

The popularity of handheld or dash mounted GPS units has supplanted and erased quickly a lot of basic navigational skills and knowledge. A consequence of the lost knowledge is excessive reliance on technology that malfunctions, for examples batteries or a forest canopy that blocks tracking the satellites. This results in ineptness that runs from following the GPS voice commands even against better judgment to injury or death because the person became lost and had no other navigational resources.

Navigation across the centuries will be explored both technology and technique. Content will vary including but not limited to Alaska Native methods of navigation, other cultures with strong navigational skills, Polynesians, Vikings, and Chinese for examples.

As with the First Aid lesson plan practical experience, scenario simulation, are vital to making these concepts and skills lived rather than referenced. Again, there is a distinction between “show,” “make,” “do,” rather than “tell” or “locate the resource.”


  • Map reading
  • Basic compass
  • Map and compass scavenger hunt
  • Research and make and use ancient navigational tools
  • Handheld GPS, GPS mapping on computers



  • Celestial navigation math
  • Marine Sextant

Images of Exploration: Painting, drawing, and photography as records of Discovery

We see a significant push to enhance our teaching in science, technology, engineering, and math, perhaps as should be. Alas, we seem to forget the importance of art in training our observational abilities. Indeed we forget the role sketching, drawing, and painting had for explorers before the advent of photography. The revolution in inquiry and representation that photography itself offered to both science and art is, as well, assumed.


  • Basic skills of drawing, cone, sphere, cube
  • History of photography, pinhole camera
  • Digital Cameras
  • Bait stations and game cameras
  • X-ray, MRI and CAT scan
  • Astronomy and space explorations


  • Cave and Hide drawings as field sketches
  • Da Vinci and Michelangelo sketchbooks
  • Paintings by Karl Bodemer, George Catlin, John James Audubon
  • Wildlife photography
  • The Art of Field Sketching, Laws guide to Drawing Birds, Drawing Trees
  • Nobel Laureates Doodle Their Discoveries http://youtu.be/2UtPGydDwVI
  • Images of cells, of organisms and of astronomy


  • 6” Newtonian reflecting telescope, homemade microscopes
  • Planetarium construction
  • Star mapping
  • Local weather station
  • Language Arts studying the journals of explorers
  • Gathering and pressing plants, plant identification

In their own right, and because of my inclination to render the town and gown barrier porous, these classes would be interesting to plan and execute, and they would create rich experiences for the learners. Remembering three points from our required reading: process emphasis, cultural eclecticism, and “school without walls, I need to become self-reflective. These three values, techniques, show up in my lesson plans. Although assumed or implicit, some of the tasks here is to make that explicit and to justify their presence. While my teaching experience is limited, it still offers me grounds for at least raising questions, if not critique.

For me “school without walls” was an important personal discovery – a chance to reclaim my experience as an independent learner and to receive credit for that. First as an undergraduate I crafted a number of Independent Studies. As a graduate student I crafted my entire degree through the Vermont College program.

The Parkway Program will not be a school with classroom or bells. The organizations around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will provide laboratories, libraries, and meeting space. Although participation will only be required for the length of the average school year, study and work programs will be available year-round. Students and faculty will form small groups for discussion, research, counseling, and self-evaluation. Learning situations will vary from films, jobs, and lectures to special projects (Bremer and von Moschzisner, 1971: 281).

Certainly, for many learners, these programs are ideal, but for many more they are perplexing and cumbersome. Too, teaching adult education students and college first years, I did not see the intrinsic motivation, the urgent curiosity that these types of programs require. Indeed, “school without walls” probably had trouble with recruitment and retention unless it was aimed at non-traditional students, students returning to high school after dropping out and struggling with real life, hence, fueled by desperation. In this week’s readings we see three young people’s description of a day in school. And in last week’s readings the anguish and frustration of these same young people pressed to imagine suicide as an only option. I fear that saying to them “you are free to learn whatever you need” might actually be no help at all. Knowing what you do not want is not the same as knowing what you need. I do believe that some of this is at play in Wigginton’s work with students, but not the entirety. Rendering the boundaries porous and trespassing them is different from doing away with them entirely. The individual stories his students researched, built and wrote about were perhaps “school without walls” but the work itself was situated in the class, in the magazines which acted as gravity on the individual orbits. I suspect many learners need the walls too. I am afraid that for other learners what I have outlined above in the lesson plans would either be too vague too open ended or for others too content driven, both the first aid and the navigation plans could fall into this.

Alas, I see this opportunity least in my lesson plans. Accordingly, I want to make sure that learners have opportunities to follow their curiosity and passion. Obviously, these plans are at their broadest in shape and direction, and so as planning becomes more granular, I think this omission is easily corrected, however, I believe it is important too for these free places to be real rather than contrived and artificial as that, I think, would cause cynicism.

In my sources for the last assignment I tipped my hand on my own “cultural eclecticism” and that appears again in the lesson plans above. So, first what does “cultural eclecticism” mean?

Thus, we present a goal of “cultural eclecticism” for minority education, in which features of both the assimilationist and pluralist ideologies are incorporated with the emphasis on an evolutionary form of cultural diversity to be attained through the informed choices and actions of individuals well-grounded in the dynamics of human and cultural interaction processes. Eclecticism implies an open-ended process (rather than a dead-ended condition) whereby individuals or groups can adapt and define the functions of the school in response to their changing needs, assuming that they understand those functions and are in a position to influence school programs sufficiently to make them fully compatible with their needs.

It is quite generous of me to engage in multi-cultural enrichment as a member of the dominant culture and of the privileged gender. I suspect that for cultures fighting for their very survival that cultural exclusivity is a very serious matter. The Amish do not negotiate their “in the world but not of the world” from a position of privilege. And as they negotiate their roles as entrepreneurs there is always a nagging self-consciousness that this maybe the turn that takes things too far and unravels the social fabric. Cultures far down the road to assimilation already perhaps have to engage in radical and irrational disruptions to regain cultural identity and cohesion – if they can. Yet interesting that the two authors of last week’s reading Alaska Native Student Vitality, Villegas and Prieto, tell us about themselves and their multi-racial heritage, this too adds complexity to thinking about “cultural eclecticism.” Probably, for many multi-racial heritage is normal. And I feel that this is what drives the possibility of this approach and the urgency of it. If I were in the small school classroom I would want to hold these two poles as constants in conversations about why and how we were going to our learning. As a courtesy to the learners I would check the temperature of the room regarding too violent swings to either extreme regularly. I think “cultural eclecticism” or writing ethnography has been very valuable for me as a learner accomplishing the post-modern turn of never permitting a privileged discourse and enriching my life with the variety of possible solutions to similar problems.

Turning to “process” I think we can criticize No Child Left Behind for excessive emphasis and focus on measurable outcomes of schools and aggregates of students we can also criticize proponents of “process” in excess because in the end… well, there never is any end. Even for the subsistence lifestyle, there is a bottom line: fish in the boat, Caribou on the ground. However, anyone who has hunted also knows that the real work starts then. Shooting a moose is not hard, getting it out of the woods is hard. So what do we mean by “process.”

Another effort to employ process as content in school learning is that of Parker and Rubin (1966), who summarize the tasks to which process-oriented curriculum developers must address themselves as follows:

  • A retooling of subject matter to illuminate base structure, and to ensure that knowledge which generates knowledge takes priority over education which does not.
  • An examination of the working methods of the intellectual practitioner, the biologist, the historian, the political scientist, for the significant processes of their craft, and the use of these processes in our classroom instruction.
  • The utilization of the evidence gathered from a penetrating study of people doing things, as they go about the business of life, in reordering the curriculum.
  • A deliberate effort to school the child in the conditions for cross-application of the processes he has mastered the ways and means of putting them to good use elsewhere (p. 48).

I would suggest that most of these aims are inherent to the three lesson plans I offer above. And I think that is insufficient. I need to make that more explicit. I also think I need to be more explicit in learning outcomes. Certainly, point three of this definition calls for that, but so also does number four: cross-application cannot be made if there is no clarity on the application in the first place. I also think that including the learners in setting outcomes is important as that contributes to their “school without walls” or more simply ownership of the learner’s priorities in learning.