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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 25, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta July 29, 1973 THE UTHMiiiGi HMA1D TeacHers gain insight into native culture Over 30 teachers have gain- ed worthwhile insights into the native American way of life, as a result of a special summer program at the Uni- versity of Lethbridge. Designed to reduce the cul- tural gap between teachers and the native students in their classrooms, the three course credit program ends this week at the U of L. The program was attended by teachers from the Southern Alberta area, with a sprinkling of participants from as far north as Fort Chipewyan. Organized by the faculty of education, the 'special program for teachers of native students' is in its second year at the U of L. It's success last summer caused expansion of the pro- gram from two to three weeks' duration, offering three, instead of two, credit courses. The program has its roots in the orientation sessions for be- ginning 'teachers offered by the Indian Affairs Branch of the department of Indian affairs and northern development. In 1971, in conjunction with the IAB, the U of L offered a one-week seminar for teachers of native students at Fort Mac- leod. Based on the success of the seminar, in 1972, the uni- versity offered a twoweek cre- dit, non-credit program for teachers of native students. "We're pleased with the says Bon Gent, In- dian affairs supervisor of edu- cation for the Blood-Peigan dis- trict. "We have had positive feed- back from the teachers cipating and expect that the program will continue from year to year." Mr. Gent says the Indian af- fairs branch may sponsor a teacher's participation in of L program under three dif- ferent circumstances: if he or she has previous experience in the IAB schools; if he teaches" in any school in the provincial jurisdiction which has a signi- ficant number of native stu- dents, or if he's a new teacher, working in IAB schools for the first time. For the latter, the ptogram is mandatory train- ing. The program is also open to any interested teacher who feels such a course would pro- vide valuable background. "It is very important to in- clude non-departaent teachers in the says Mr. Gent, "since 65 per cent of re- serve school-age children at- tend provincial schools." tanging altitudes Prof. Morgan Otis, co-ordina- tor of the program for the past two years, says the pri- mary objective is to challenge teacher attitudes and behavior. Mr. Otis, co-ordinator of Na- tive American Studies at Cali- fornia State University, Sacra- mento, says, "The first step in a course like (bis, is to chal- lenge people's concepts to get them to stop and seriously examine own attitudes to- wards the native population. It is not an easy tiling to do; But it is-vital that a teacher be aware of his own prejudices, particularly in the area of cross cultural education." "After becoming aware of their own attitudes, we hope teachers will be able to consid- er curriculum and materials which are meaningful to the In- dian student and take into ac- count his historical and cultur- al background." Students enrolled in the spe- cial program may take as many as three credit courses. The program offers a well-balanc- ed menu: aa in depth anthropo- logical study of Native Amer- ican cultures and society, taught by U of L anthropology professor, Dr. Keith Parry; a seminar approach to native schools, taught by Mr. Otis, and a detailed study of cumcnlani design and development, in- structed by Richard Green, a professor experienced in native education. "Student response to the pro- gram has been very comments Prof. Otis. "Many teachers didn't realize the amount of background informa- tion on native culture available to them." Student response Although some students in the program thought the course could have been longer, or structured somewhat different- ly, the majority seemed enthus- iastic about the three weeks they spent at the U of L. Pam MacArthur, of Edmon- ton, a former social worker, this fall begins full-time duties as a teacher on the Hcbbema Reserve in Central Alberta. "It's an absolutely excellent she endorses. "The classes certainly broadened our minds and taught us to accept others as people regardless of being yellow or red or black This fall, Lorna Bice of Leth- bridge will be teaching her first kindergarten dass of native Students, at Standoff Reserve. "Tbe program really opened my Mrs. Eke com- ments. '1 was shocked to rea- lize that history, as I'd been taught it, had no awareness of the Indian point of view. "I really wish more people teachers especially could take this course and become aware of their own narrow cul- tural bias." A veteran teacher, Frank Doyte of Bassano, has taught for 23 years but has never taken a course designed to sensitize him to the Indian way of life. He recommends the experience. "This program is Mr. Doyte says. "It should be mandatory for every teach- er, whether teaching ndian students or not. We have to teach our white students about the culture of our Native Cana- dians, to eliminate their nega- tive attitudes toward Indians." Mr. Doyte especially praised a poi'tiou of the program which featured panel presentations Southern Alberta Indians. "The program should feature even more input from local he adds, "telling teach- ers what sort of approach they do or don't want from vs." Joanne Pruyser win teach her first class of Indian students at a junior high level, in Fort Chipewyan this September. She had already taken a native stu- dies course at the University of Alberta, but said the TJ of L summer program re-inforc- ed her own awareness of the na- tive point of view. Curriculum important .Having made teachers aware of their own attitudes, and the variety of resource material available to them, the U of L course took them one step far- ther, by teaching them to use their new awareness in plan- ning a curriculum both mean- ingful and appealing to native students. Teachers were shown many films on Indian people sod numerous reference bones en native culture were requir- ed reading. Initial portions of Dr. Otis' class presented by Dr. Ken Owens, professor of his- tory and ethnic studies at Cal- ifornia State University, Sa- cramento. "I says Dr. Owens of his lectures, "to indicate the way the white's stereotyped op- inion of the Indian as "noble or ignoble savage" has influ- enced an our policies towards Native Americans." 'Tve tried to suggest that teachers replace the stereotype with an understanding of the cultural diversities of the Cana- dian he adds. U of L anthropology profes- sor Keith Parry says teachers must understand the history of the Native American "so they won't be working oat of a cul- tural vacuum." Tbe course on curriculum de- sign and development was in- structed by Richard Green, most itsccul position was a vice-principal at Rse-Edzo school in the North West Terri- tories. The experimental school was established and operated by the fust Canadian indepen- dent native school board. 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