First blog since my last course 2 years ago. Life got in the way and I didn’t follow through with “my world of blog”. Well I am back… so here we go.
The other night I sat at a Community Education meeting with my First Nation Band. I recently moved back to my home territory and decided it was time to give back and be an active member with the band especially in the field of education. I am lucky and have been working in the public education system with Aboriginal youth for nearly two decades. During our round table discussion we were asked to say one word we would like to tell our youth about the future of education. A man sitting a couple of seats down from me talked about he’s experience in the education system. He talked about the feeling of helplessness, racism, discrimination and wondered if any adult cared. He said “If I felt that way, what do the youth today feel?” As he was talking I was jotting down notes because I was remember the first couple of chapter of the book, Student Engagement and Techniques by Elizabeth F. Barkley (2010) on intervention techniques, especially the part about ‘At Risk’ students and disengagement. I thought about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and where the basic fundamentals like sleep and food need to be met before higher levels needs can be met.
Tamsin McMahon (2014) talks about the horrifying facts of Aboriginal children and youth living on reservations in Canada. In her article she outlines the unfair distribution of education funds from the federal government to on reserve schools, the conditions of the these schools and the lack of curriculum needed for students to get their education. But these aren’t the only barriers to the young people on reservations. Poverty, isolation, drugs and alcohol, lack of proper housing and adequate drinking water are just the tip of the iceberg. When Tamsin interviewed a former at risk youth, Mike McKenzie said he felt there was hope for the young people and future opportunities. He says… “You don’t have to be condemned from day one just because you were born on a reserve.”
Victor Rios (2015) on Ted Talks brings to the forefront how the education system ignores the most vulnerable students. He says there are three strategies the education system needs to mindshift when it come to working with ‘At Risk’ students;
- Deficit perspective of education.
- Value the student’s stories – welcome into the classroom.
- provide more adequate resources to youth ie., job training, counseling, mentorship programs.
The one thing Mr. Rois said that hit home for me was “When you teach from the heart the mind will follow.”
These students have the potential and ability to change and so do we – the educators.
Barkley, Elizabeth F., Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculity, 2010, Jossey-Bass
McMahon, Tamsin, Why Fixing First Nation Education remains so far out of reach , Aug 22, 2014, Macleans
Rois, Victor, November 2015, Help for Kids the Education System Ignores, TED Talks Live