This weeks learning experience was on the reading titled “Native Americans: Deculturalization, Schooling, Globalization and Inequality” by Joel Spring. As seen by the title, the article covered the vast history and injustices that the Native American’s went through at the hands of Europeans. The author, Spring, did a wonderful job of bringing forth the challenging history of Native American’s as well as highlighting the terrible hardships they went through at the hands of white Europeans. Spring began the article by acknowledging the deculturization that many indigenous people have been subjected to at the hands of conquerors. I want to note an important quote the author states while he brings about the main idea that this deculturalization had terrible implications. Spring states “These destructive actions are based on a belief that some cultures and languages are superior to others. This resulted in many cases in inequality of educational opportunity. Additionally, being forced to undergo extreme cultural change resulted in many becoming socially and psychologically dysfunctional“. This quote alone really captures multiple main ideas that the author stated throughout this reading. Such as deculturalization was the root of Native American’s inequalities in all aspects of their lives. The author uses history as evidence to further this political and cultural ideology presented in the reading. Multiple timelines were presented through the article that explain a variety of acts that were passed for Native American’s removal, citizenships, boarding school, etc. All of these acts or movements were presented to support the points Spring made about the injustices committed against Native Americans. I also find it important to note that this ideology is driven by cultural, or lack thereof due to the deculturalization the Native Americans experienced. These main points were prevalent throughout the reading and were immensely important to touch base on during the lesson.
I want to preface the lesson by noting that I was truly saddened to read about the injustices the Native American’s were put through. Admittedly, I was not as educated on this topic as I should have been. Upon reading the article, I immediately thought about the implications of deculturalization not just in the past but now. I was struck with the thought that this article was the complete opposite of Culturally-Relevant Pedagogy as presented by the brilliant Gloria Ladson-Billings. After reading her pedagogy, I am a firm believer in being culturally relevant in the classroom and making that a necessity. Due to my belief in being open and accepting of student’s cultures, I found the treatment of the Native American’s to be devastating. While we still have a long way to go in order to make amends for the injustices that are unfortunately still happening in education, it is my hope that being educated on the matter will allow us to make changes in the lives of our students. If school cannot be a place for students to embrace themselves, culture included, then how can we expect them to grow as an individual? Due to the lack of lived experiences in relation to these main ideas, I was looking forward to see if my peers were more connected to this topic.
Since the article included immense amounts of history and injustice, my LC decided to focus our efforts on a handful of main points. The agenda we noted included what deculturalization is, a brief history of Native American relations, Native American education and treatment, Common School Movement, and finally connecting these ideas to present time. Additionally, our objective was for our students to be able to understand the history of deculturalization and how this particularly impacted education. My group was also wanting our students to be able to understand how the policies we outlined shaped what we know of education today and how they continue to impact cultural groups.
To begin, we gave our students a working definition of what deculturalization is due to the amount we touched on this during the article. Native American’s culture was essentially forced away from them by the dominant culture of that time, the white Protestant. It was the ideologies of this dominant culture that led us through the lesson on Native American relations. We noted the Native American Citizenship timeline and touched base on the important acts within the timeline. It was also very important to us to place a large emphasis on Native American Boarding Schools and the treatment of children there. We wanted to keep all the history in the lesson because the author used this evidence as a way to present ideas and the implications along with those. Along with using history to support our points, we also challenged our students to think about the underlying issues from these acts. Such as why Europeans used education as a form of control, instead of actually educating Native American’s in their own language and culture? Why was the European population forcing Native American’s to replace their culture with the White Protestant culture? Where did these racist agendas stem from? After we gave our students a lesson on deculturalization and Native American history, we posed the question: “What does deculturalization look like in schools and communities today?”. It was then we touched base on what this looks like in present times.
The conversation that followed this question was my favorite part of the lesson. My LC noted a handful of aspects we noted in present times where we noticed these ideologies in present day education. These examples were the use of “standard English”, Pledge of Allegiance, and National Holidays. We asked our students if they had any personal experiences with these examples, or if they had any in their own lived experiences. What I found to be very interesting was the comment that a student made about the fact that we Pledge Allegiance almost “blindly”, such as we do something just because that is what we were told to. It was also noted how problematic the statement, “One Nation Under God” was, considering how many Gods a variety of cultures follow. It was this part of the lesson in which I felt my group and I were able to really drive the point home that deculturalization is still present and we have to be mindful of it and challenge it.
My contributions to the lesson included annotating the article, helping prepare the lesson materials, as well as engaging in conversation throughout the lesson. As I noted earlier, my LC group and I really wanted to ensure our students were able to grasp the policies and history and the current implications. I felt as though through my contributions as well as my members, we were able to get our main points across. My responsibilities during teaching the lesson were reflective of my contributions I had just noted. I was responsible for ensuring the information I presented was correct as well as engaging. After all, teachers want to ensure their students are engaged in the lesson and finding the information to be relevant to them. In all, I feel proud of my presentation and contributions to the lesson and it is my hope that my students took something away from it.
Spring, Joel 2013. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality. Chapter 2: Native Americans: Deculturalization. Schooling, and Globalization. New York: McGraw Hill.pp. 21-40.