Indigenous Education Goals

Government resistance to making any changes in infrastructure, curriculum or pedagogical methods is slowly turning. There is a recognition that Aboriginal cultures are here to stay and that consultation on integrating aboriginal cultural values, languages and ways of knowing into the education system is long overdue. Little Bear (2009) says the high dropout rate of First Nations students is partly due to a curriculum that does not reflect their culture, history or “real life conditions.” (p. 18)


Given a different worldview, it is to be expected that many of the educational goals of Indigenous people will differ and will need to inform curriculum, methods, and training. Of primary importance however is government policy and economic recognition of the needs to support Indigenous education. Marie Battiste (2002) outlines in her study Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy A Literature Review with Recommendations for INAC, a comprehensive list of 22 recommendations that would ensure support for aboriginal lifestyles, traditions, languages and cultures, their place in society, and increased funding for training and education programs and facilities. She clearly recommends the use of media technologies in education and to facilitate collaboration amongst communities to manage traditional knowledge. She has also done work with the Canadian Council on Learning to help develop frameworks and resources for First Nations Education.

Little Bear (2009), drawing from Anishinabe teachings suggests “Goodness is an end goal, whether it in regards to education or governance. If good ‘citizenship’ were the end goal of western education, it would be very complimentary to the idea of ‘goodness’ but, unfortunately, that is not the case. Competition, rivalry, and survival of the fittest are part of the tacit infrastructures of the present education system, which are aimed at capitalistic materialism.” (p.15) The domination of this way of thinking has denied “Aboriginal people access to and participation in the formulation of government policy, constrains the use and development of Aboriginal cultures in schools, and confines education to a narrow view of the world and its knowledge foundations that threaten the global future.” (Battiste, 2005, p.9) These goals are far reaching and require a major “paradigm shift’ and not only in education. Aboriginal ways of knowing will have powerful impacts on education and can help ensure that Indigenous knowledge, language and the skills are valued and that preserving and developing community relationship with the land can grow a more spiritual relationship with the earth.

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