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Finding a Place for Culture in the Classroom
  1. Manabu Sato. Ph.D.
  2. Onestopenglish: Number one for English language teachers
  3. Chapter 1. Educating Everybody's Children: We Know What Works—And What Doesn't
  4. Introduction

Indigenous knowledge is holistic, integrative, and situated within broader cultural traditions and is empirical rather than hypothetical. Its repetition contributes to its retention, even when new knowledge is added.

Manabu Sato. Ph.D.

The attributes of indigenous knowledge are useful in establishing the context in which AcademIK Connections can be employed to bring new insights into the classroom. Let us take, for example, the video featuring Dr. Carolyn Sachs a professor of rural sociology at Penn State, who has worked extensively in Africa, Latin America, and Asia as a valued member of agricultural specialist teams seeking to address issues of food security by applying research-based management practices to increase crop yields. In the video, Sachs describes a situation that arose in Swaziland, when her team was advising women farmers on how to obtain a higher maize yield by employing a specific type of fertilizer.

The team assumed that the women were not weeding because they were too busy with household chores and child care to spend sufficient time in their fields. Several years later, a student was studying the diets of these households and discovered two plants that the families were consuming daily.

It is to promote such non-linear thinking in a specific environmental context without regard to the intellectual constraints of a particular academic discipline that teaching tools such as AcademIK Connections are urgently needed. Faculty and cooperative extension agents participated in a web-based study conducted in to understand the barriers and supports that affect their likelihood of incorporating indigenous knowledge into their teaching, research, and outreach activities.

Appreciation and application of indigenous knowledge in teaching, research, and outreach activities was significantly less on the main campus and increased on commonwealth campuses where faculty involvement with communities was greater. Faculty in the sciences and engineering were significantly less likely to employ indigenous knowledge concepts than their peers in the social sciences and humanities.

The study also revealed that junior faculty members were more likely than senior professors to use locally generated knowledge. However, they were unlikely to receive support for doing so from senior faculty who evaluate them or within the larger academic system. Peer support was instrumental in enhancing faculty use of indigenous knowledge in teaching, research, and outreach. The faculty featured in this video series serve as role models for peers who might some day want to bring back to students their own personal stories of encounters with indigenous cultures.

However, for the time being, they can be encouraged to test the academic and personal waters by relying on respected colleagues who have worked successfully with local residents in unfamiliar cultural settings. Indigenous knowledge matters in community engagement and scholarship because indigenous ways of knowing and other heritage knowledges are disappearing as a result of the devaluing of indige- nous reality and a loss of the acquired wisdom of el- ders.

Institutions based on traditional knowledge are also disappearing because of industrialization and Western notions of progress. They have a lot to teach us about their world and about ours. Some post-colonialists, feminists, mul- ticulturalists, sociologists of scientific knowledge, and those who refer to themselves as indigenous researchers argue that there is a wide global diversity in the conceptions of knowledge—of what it means to know, of what counts as official knowledge, and how that knowledge is produced Ferguson, ; Pickering, De Sousa Santos, Nunes, and Meneses , for example, argue that the produc- tion of knowledge is in itself a social practice, and as such all knowledges are situated historically, po- litically, socially and partial.

These scholars argue against the monoculture of knowledge, an approach based on positivist notions of science, legacies of colonial and postcolonial relation, and global capi- talism. They contend that indigenous peoples ev- erywhere know a great deal about the environments in which they have lived for generations, and that this knowledge must be valued and taken into ac- count in the planning and implementation of edu- cational as well as development policies.

Renewed interest in indigenous knowledge systems and practices is widespread and global Nakata, According to Brokensha, Warren, and Werner , the emergence of indigenous knowledge in the academy was triggered by ethnographic studies conducted in countries that were colonized by Europeans in the eighteenth century during their expansionist period. Through such studies, it was noted that prior to colonization some local people sustained themselves better when they utilized locally developed knowledge than was the case after political independence in the post- colonial era.

These perspectives are not new revelations by any means.

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  3. Inclusion (education)?

Social historians have for decades engaged in reconstruction of the pre-colonial past as an orientation to the problems of society and social change. Social history emphasizes social structures and the interaction of different groups in society. This theoretical approach examines the lives of everyday people—their experiences and beliefs— and can help us gain insight into historical events. Social history uses many historic narratives and oral histories to give a descriptive overview of how a population was affected by history. Narratives are the building blocks of social history, but all historic narratives, oral histories, and social history are enriched by context or knowledge of the events that shaped individual experiences.

When social historians look at indigenous knowledge Cohen, , they see it as part of the lives of everyday people, their experiences and beliefs—which can help us gain insight into historic events such as the pre-colonial past, enduring institutions, customs, household organization, inheritance, marriage, livestock keeping, social formations, modes of production, customs, ecological systems, and the consequences of demographic effects of migration as they challenged the authority of rulers and their extended family Tilly, This broad understanding of indigenous knowledge is important as we position the AcademIK Connections videos as an affront to the monoculture of knowledge in the academy.

A land-grant institution that prides itself on being an engaged university, with a full agenda of research, teaching, and community outreach programs, needs to take seriously the question of how local, traditional, and indigenousknowledges can enhance each of its functional areas. For example, can knowledge of the flora and fauna of forests and streams that has been generated by its hunters, fishers, and sangers1 fill in the gaps in ecological research studies?

Can students in a community nutrition class be informed by the dietary coping strategies of those low-income households whose children prosper where others fail to thrive? Can the stories passed down by seniors be used to harness the social and educational capital of decaying Rust Belt cities or spark the interest of children in blighted urban schools? Can students, communities, and academic institutions learn from indigenous knowledge innovations? Can classrooms become open marketplaces of diverse ideas and pragmatic discussions of alternative criteria of validity?

Collectively, these questions illustrate why indigenous knowledge matters in community engagement and scholarship. As a way of initiating on-going discussions that address these educational challenges, we can employ the AcademIK Connections video series. In its attempt to bridge community engagement and scholarship, a university must address the devaluing and lack of responsiveness to indigenous knowledge by taking seriously Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution Kellogg Commission, Globalization has increased the pressure on educational institutions to prepare students for life in an increasingly connected and borderless world.

Merryfield summarizes the definitions of major scholars to provide an eight- element framework for global education. These elements are human beliefs and values, global systems, global issues and problems, cross-cultural understanding, awareness of human choices, global history, acquisition of indigenous knowledge, and development of analytical, evaluative, and participatory skills.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of integrating into the curriculum the socially and globally relevant themes of indigenous knowledge if we are to effectively educate students for the globalized world Battiste, M. For example, sustainability is one topic where we can draw from the wisdom of indigenous people and meld it with scientific know-how to develop effective solutions to this shared global challenge. Sustainability is considered to be the keystone to our survival and future development.

Increasing pressures on global resources and deteriorating environmental conditions make it imperative for universities to embrace sustainability and systematically incorporate it into academic research, outreach, and operational functions. Indigenous knowledge is gradually being re-evaluated and considered as an inspiring source of strategies for sustainable development Fernando, Duarte Morais, a colleague in the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management, reminds us that over the course of human history, many indigenous communities have thrived without damaging or compromising the natural environment.

Onestopenglish: Number one for English language teachers

Their knowledge shaped their values and relationship with the environment and guided their actions. The focus on sustainability is an opportunity for exploring the relationships and attitudes of indigenous communities toward the environment and the lessons they can teach us about sustainability. He discusses the Ojibwe language and worldview in his video clip. This animated worldview changes the sense of belonging and the place of humans in the world.

For most people living in Western countries, that kind of relationship with the world around them does not exist. The implications of this different worldview are very significant, one example being respect for nature and all its constituents because they are as alive and as real and significant as we are.

The engineering profession is one of the most global professions with international design teams developing technologies for international markets. Several universities have developed academic programs that engage students in the de- sign and implementation of appropriate technologies for indigenous communities in resource-con- strained environments.

Besides academic programs, many universities also have local chapters of student organizations like Engineers without Borders that engage in service-learning and development projects around the world. Indigenous knowledge has immense value for entrepreneurs and problem- solvers seeking solutions to community problems. In order for community solutions to be successful and sustainable, they must be designed with the intimate engagement of all stakeholders. There is no data available on the importance placed on indigenous perspectives and knowledge by the many students who travel to remote communities bringing with them their pre- conceived projects and technological solutions to help local residents solve what the students have determined to be pressing local problems.

How can universities prepare students to be socially and globally conscious leaders and entrepreneurs that respect and appreciate indigenous knowledge? How do we bring the perspectives of indigenous people with different epistemologies and philosophies of life into the classroom?

For whose benefit are we engaging in outreach projects? Also, how do we expand international educational experiences to include the vast majority of students rather than just a select few?

Chapter 1. Educating Everybody's Children: We Know What Works—And What Doesn't

We need to develop innovative ways to provide both travel- and non- travel-based experiences that expose students to indigenous knowledge. The HESE Program brings together students and faculty from various disciplines to develop innovative and practical technology-based solutions to address challenges facing marginalized communities. The quest is for solutions with the four hallmarks of sustainability—technologically appropriate, environmentally benign, socially acceptable, and economically sustainable. Students develop their solutions in collaboration with in- country partners.

They travel to these communities to field-test and implement the technologies and work shoulder-to-shoulder with community partners. Students have been astonished by the wealth of knowledge possessed by local people, whom they had naively believed to be uneducated and illiterate. These transformational educational experiences have encouraged students to ask why it is that certain types of knowledge are more highly regarded than others. Students question the hierarchy of knowledges and the processes through which Western science and epistemologies position themselves as neutral, universal, and non- hegemonic, while seeking to invalidate and devalue other ways of knowing.

Claudine James, Malvern, Ark. In my English language arts lessons each spring, my students construct a tolerance-themed four-day exhibition hosted by the local community college and attended by district students and the community.


Throughout the year, students were assigned multicultural novels, short stories, picture books and informational texts to read that related to the different themes. Lou Frederick, Brooklyn, N. How does power or the lack of it affect individuals, groups and societies? Through this novel, I want to address issues of ethnicity, immigration and gender.

My plan is to have them read and analyze articles on the diversity of the Asian community in New York City. I also want to look at recent developments in the United States border policy that directly affect many of my students. Related to this, we will look ahead to what questions and racial categories will be on the census. Mark Drago, Summerville, Mass. The tweet above brings to light the issue of rising temperatures in our world.

More specifically, this issue of higher minimum temperatures was reported in The New York Times, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Despite news reports like this one, and the fact that heat records keep being broken, every year I have some students say they do not think the climate is changing.

Instead, I want to take the tools we use in class to address these current issues. Mathematics can help us understand the world around us and what is happening. So for the coming school year, I plan on addressing the current issue of higher minimum summer temperatures in cities like Burlington, Vt. Together we will explore the data on the NOAA website and draw our own conclusions. Every spring as a team, my theater students embark on a playwriting journey.

Our program, Cougar Theater, has managed to make the process our own. It includes but is not limited to:. Over the years, we have teamed up with community theater and organizations that have supported our process. They have written and professionally produced three pieces so far in our four years together.

Jarred Amato, Nashville, High School.