November 13, 2006

Science and culture

This research further showed the implications of cultural literacy. I thought a strong argument was made using the debate of western science vs. Native American science to show disparities in how this influences education. The percentage of only ½ graduating and 17% attending higher education are staggering statistics and this paper tries to identify why these numbers are so drastic. The response to multicultural education is one many of us can agree on. It starts to make sense that when a Native American student does not learn as much about his or her culture, their self-view changes and they do not feel as significant in society. Knowing and understanding your own history is crucial to a person, it is a part of us. There is no quantifiable evidence as to why this is, but for me knowing my background helps me to know who I am presently. American education should be multicultural education if we are the mosaic or melting pot we consider ourselves to be. When I was writing my problem paper for this class, I emphasized multicultural education because multicultural students are not incapable of achieving, they just have not had the right learning atmosphere. The right learning atmosphere would be one where classes teach a variety of cultures and tests are utilized to see why a student has not learned the information not as a benchmark for their intelligence. As in the paper we just read, it shows signs of how the two different views of science can benefit each other, because nothing is absolute. If they are looked at with no bias, they can be used to understand science in general better.

November 12, 2006

Native American Science

When I read this paper, I noticed something in myself I had never thought of before. When the author mentioned that there we should recognize that the Western way of science, as far as the scientific method, is not the only way to view the world. When I thought about it, I realized that I could not bring myself to see any other way of proving things to be truth. I understand that there may be, but the logics of my mind and they way I've been taught my whole life inhibit me from grasping the thought that simple observation and experience can hold as truth. What I believe is different from what I know, though. I believe the author is right in his opinion that teachers need to learn and involve Native American culture in their teaching methods, as any teacher should do when teaching other races and cultures. I believe that it is also extremely important to recognize that other ways of thinking are and should always be acceptable as some form of truth since we are all in this world together and nobody can say it is the way it is with any more confidence than anyone else. I am also thankful that I have had the oppotuinty to learn about Native American culture in school, although it probably wasn't enough and no doubt bias. I would, however, like to learn more. But in general, schools need to be responsible for teaching to the children they have, however difficult the process is. We cannot take the easy way out and expect everyone to assimilate. There are ways and even though I can't think of any efficient ones, how are the people of this country going to say it's too hard when we have computers, cars, spaceships, robots and other unbelievable things that at one time were all accepted as impossible? We have the brain power, we just need to delegate proper time to the solution.

Learning about culture

It really is sad the way that people cast aside the ideas and ways of other cultures as insignificant and not as good or true as the way of the majority. Native American, and other cultural groupings, have many valid and in some ways more true or useful ways than the majority way. But most people are just taught that there is this one way and no other options. For example in medicine…pills, surgeries, etc…the current “Western world medicine? is in most cases the only thing people know about, the only thing they believe will work, the only thing doctors give any credence to, and the shadow that looms over other possible alternatives. And although in many cases this type of treatment is the best option…that is by far not always the case. Things like “Eastern medicine? and Native American medicines have a whole lot that they can offer. Accupuncture, teas and other herbs, meditation…all things that do actually work…and work quite well, but are too often looked down upon and ignored. Every culture has something to offer into the great and colorful collage that our world has come to be. Other cultures and their ways should be learned. Some of my extended family is Native American and so I have grown up going to pow wows and celebrating solstice and it has given me the opportunity to see more than a limited horizon of things. Things should change, less bound by the ties of old in seeing only what you are and not what others can share with you.

Native American Culture

After reading this article I relized that Native Americans really are not treated with the respect that they deserve and their ideas about science and nature are to easily tossed aside and labelled as just stories. I believe that they are not just stories. Native Americans lived as a part of nature for so long that it would be nearly impossible for them not to have a deep understanding about nature and science. I really enjoy hearing and reading native American stories and I have noticed that in every single story native Americans use nature and things in nature as symbolism to describe a deeper meaning. I think modern scientists throw out native American theories way to easily and I think that modern scientist should show more respect to Native American Scientists who are trying to present their theorys. Isnt science based off of theorys anyway? So what would make one persons idea better than another persons if both ideas are logical? One of the main problem I think is probably the fact that native American history and ideals is not taught as a regular class in the public school system, so not a lot is known about their culture by the general public. If the general public understood more about the Native American culture then people would probably be more willing to accept Native American sciences.

November 11, 2006

Leaning about the culture

Once again the reading left a lot to think about. It is definately true that Native Americans are not treated the same as caucasian. For the most part the same holds true for all minority groups. In schools we learn about the "white" parts of history, but not so much from any other race. I don't think we need to create an individual focus on Native American history, but I guess in my mind it would be better to split everything up amongst the different cultures. This would obviously be ideal, but there isn't enough time to do this, so we'll need to find a different solution than the one I proposed. In my high school we never even made it as far as western civillization. We spent a lot of time on the Greeks and Romans, but in second grade we did learn about the natives and the pilgrims. We learned both sides and remember making an indian house. I call it this because I can't remember if it was a wigwam or adobe or what. Then we had a feast. It was fun, but we did learn a lot, too. We were taught about the injustices, it's just that at the time we probably called it being unfair. Why didn't we expand our knowledge later??? We did. In sixth grade we took Minnesota history and the Natives were the first people we learned abou.

November 10, 2006

Another Unnoticed Problem in American Schools

I am happy that we got a chance to read this report. It presents another culture’s in-depth system of human creation, beliefs, and other well-known views among them. Native Americans are an enormous part of the country America, so why aren’t teachings from their societies presented to us in history class? I, and probably all of you, did one or two reports on a specific Native tribe over our years in school, but nothing was taught to us that we could use or believe as being valid. It’s really a shame that Native Americans, who have a thorough belief and value system, don’t hold any authority to history taught in mainstream America. I wish that all children in America could be presented with at least some Native American views and beliefs, so we can have that knowledge base. I shouldn’t have to wait until college when I tutor at Oh Day Aki Charter school to realize that Native American lessons would be important to my life.
On another note, I realize that the children at Oh Day Aki are provided with some Native American history, which is more than children at mainstream schools. It is sad that other Native American students, along with all other races don’t get any historical teachings from Native American backgrounds.
At the same time Native American children who are only taught from their Native American culture have trouble adjusting to western society’s way of teaching. Maybe, if teachers in modern American schools would use a way to connect both ends of the spectrum, more children would succeed and end up with a more diverse view of the world today.

The Five-Part Framework

I wasn't too interested in the topic of this paper; however, I believe it contained a lot of useful information that I can benefit from. On pages 44-45, Bellcourt referred to a "five-part conceptual framework derived from the broader multicultural literature and research to help Native Americans be more culturally responsive to education. The five categories include: 1. educators must be have a knowledge of Native culture, histories, and learning styles, 2. educators must understand their own identity into order to understand those of their students, 3. an educator and student must have a good relationship for effective learning, 4. there must be a respect for diversity, and 5. "Transformative Curriculum that promotes critical thinking and the advancement of society toward equity of opportunity and social justice.
After thinking of this five-part framework, I began to relate it to the school I volunteer at. The students at my school are mainly Somali and I believe that these five steps are critical to putting motivation in the students. To be motivated, a student must feel comfortable in the learning environment and be interested in the material being taught. If a learning environment fulfills these five criteria, it will be successful. Somali kids require a unique learning environment. Looking back at the school I volunteer, I believe that the school does an excellent job of accommodating the student. The teachers don't know everything about the students' culture; however, they make their students feel welcome and open to express their culture. The school I volunteer at even sets aside time for the students to pray each day.

Indigenous People vs. Western Scientists / Teaching Framework

We aren't as different as we think we are! It is interesting to me especially on pages 3 and 4, where the author ends up talking about quantum physics and the butterfly effect. You know, these are major theories and findings by Western Scientists, and all of these findings tie into the understanding of human nature that the Indigenous people have always known. That just blew my mind away. It's like the Western Scientists are behind in the discoveries, while everyone views the Indigenous people as the people who are so far behind in their culture and findings.

The other part of the article that I enjoyed was the five-part conceptual framework. That explained the ideal teaching system and teacher for me at least. (1) Educators must be culturally literate (2) Teachers must self reflect on their own attitudes (3) Educators must be caring (4) Teachers must have respect for diversity (5) Critical thinking encouraged. These are all great suggestions for what a teacher should do. That way a child will feel more comfortable with the teacher, and the teacher will develop a relationship with the student. Also, once they develop this relationship, since the teacher is not just hammering information into the students' head, the students will be put into an environment in which they want to and can learn.

High Context Education

While reading Mark Bellcourt’s Dissertation, one particular part stuck out to me. It was at the end of page 43 and beginning of page 44. The Native American way of learning seems more practical to me when you really think about it. Often times in school students are asking, “Why do I need to know this??, or “When am I ever going to use this?’. This is so true, and often discourages kids from giving their best effort or providing an incentive to learn. As mentioned, this kind of learning is low context. We are learning right now in psychology what low context means in relation to memory. According to the levels-of- processing principle, how easily we can retrieve a memory depends on the number and types of associations we form. In our traditional way of learning, some kids do not make these connections and will therefore not retain what they learn. On the other hand, Native American children used to learn as necessary. As they came upon a situation they were taught to deal with it and were able to incorporate it into their daily life. Although, we cannot just let our children learn whatever they want, our schools should maybe try to find a happy medium between the two so that we can develop those kind of high-context associations, in order to provide a more meaningful learning experience for all. After all, this is how we are often introduced to a job. We get some basic instructions, and then most of our early time is spent working and asking questions as we encounter problems to learn how to do the job completely.

More than one solution

I think the varying cultures of the United States are what make our country so unique. Unfortunately, though, there are many people that discount the cultures that are different from the well-known “western-culture.? Luckily, there are many varying cultures, such as many Native-American cultures that have kept their traditions and values in tact, despite the pressure to conform to the “accepted? western culture that overtake a large part of the United States. As far as the “western science? versus the “Native American? science, there are many disagreements. If individuals were more open to each other’s ideas about medicine, therapy, etc. we would be better off. Obviously both methods are effective or both cultures would not have remained strong throughout the years- it’s the basic concept of evolution and natural selection. Neither one is wrong, they are just different and people should accept this fact. In schools, however, the majorities are teaching the western culture and sciences as if it is the only truth, when many people feel that there are other methods. I think that schools should educate children about other types of sciences, like Native American, as well. They do not necessarily need to go into as much depth, but they should just give them an idea so they can form their own opinions.

November 9, 2006


When I read this article several things came to mind. Among them were the reasons why white people had such great difficulty accepting Native American science as being a credible form of science. From what I have seen in the past regarding minorities, white people have a hard time with this because minorities aren’t seen or treated as real people. At least this is how the majority of the white population acts towards minorities. An example, other than the one at hand, would be that it was once legal for white people to enslaved people of color because they weren’t seen as humans, or at least not to the same level of humanity as white people were. Another example would be the current exploitation of both legal and illegal immigrants who work on American soil in sweatshops without being provided with a livable wage. From the Native American/white history, examples like this are also easy to come by. How about the over 300 treaties that they American government broke with the Native American people? Or the massacre that ensued after Christopher Columbus’ arrival? Or perhaps that the most impoverished places in the United States today are on Reservations? These examples prove that our history and current reality dehumanize people of color. To get back on subject, I would like to bring attention to other reasons why white people cannot, or will not, accept Native American science. Possibly the most obvious reason is that there could be some stereotype surrounding the ideas that their science poses, such as “oh, it’s all just superstition with feathers and smoke? or “I really don’t see how dancing and chanting is related to science.? People who say these things are obviously acting on what they THINK they know related to what they have collected from past experiences or the media. However, this does not accurately reflect the true ideas and theories behind Native American science. After reading this article, I know that my knowledge of what Native American science is has expanded, and now I am better prepared to fight any stereotypes that I might encounter.

November 8, 2006

Chapter 1: The Problem (pages 1-15)

This chapter begins with a story about mother earth and father sky and explains thats by this story and many others Indigenous people are able to pass wisdom down from generation to generation. They use stores to help keep history alive. This way of science is very different from the western science." Western science has established specific procedures, protools, and principals by which trained researchers can isolate variables, observe changes, and quantitatively measure results in controlled environments"( Bellcourt 3)
Mark Bellcourt states the problem as:"...that despite centuries of scientific environment practice and knowledge, Indigenous wisdom is virtually absent from dominant mainstream western science curricula, literature, and practice"(5). He goes on to explain some reasons why the indigeous wisom is nowhere to be found in western science; Native Americans are one of the most underrepresented groups in the sciences because less than 17% of Native Americans graduate highschool, and few then who go on to higher learning, and if they do simply are not interested in science. Another reason why Bellcourt believes the Indigenous wisdom is absent is because there is no widley accepted definition of Native American Science, and the lack of trust by Native Americans.
Ecology, which is the main focus of the paper, is 'the study of natural enviornment and of the relationships of organisms to each other and to their surroundings" (Ricklefs, 2001, 12). Ecology first came out of Western Scienece but connects more deeply to Native American Science.

1.) Why do you think its that western science has trouble accepting Native American scienece and vice versa?

2.)Can you think of any stories or myths that we use in western teaching that help us preserve history or pass down wisdom?

Indigenous Worldviews Conclusion Summary (pages 98-108)

This part of the reading talks about the differences between the worldviews and practices of indigenous science and mainstream western science. Western science is the main view that science classes teach and practice, but it doesn't have any worldviews, only western worldviews. Early ecology shows that it had some worldviews and practices that were the same as Indigenous science. Ecology was a study that tried to look at how plants and animals interacted with the enviroment. However, current literature shows that Indigenous science is very different from Western science in worldviews and practices. There was a sub-section in this part of the reading that asked how can mainstream western science better use these worldviews. In that section, the author focused on how we can get Native American students more interested in math and science. There were many different suggestions, but there were some similar ones. A man, Gary, did a study that focused on five things. The first was that "several research subjects discussed cultural competence in the classroom" ( pg 102). The second was that "teachers need to be more self-reflective of their attitudes and beliefs" (pg 102). The third was that "teachers need to develop caring and trusting relationships with their students and creat inclusive classrooms" (pg 103). the fourth was that "teachers need to be respectful of diversity" (pg 103). Finally, the last was that "curricula need to be more transformative and reflective of social change" (pg 103). There was another research study done in which the researcher tried to find practices and beliefs that would give explanations for certain things. In conclusion to this section, the author says that "Tribal colleges are our experts in language, history, and culture. They must be willing to be the leaders in promoting an alternative worldview in the sciences" (pg 108).

Some questions to think about:

1) Do you feel that you have gotten a variety of western sciences and Indigenous sciences throughout your schooling?
2) Do you feel that the last two lines of the summary are true?

Class visitor on November 13th

Urban Lit students:

Please remember that Mark Bellcourt, author of the reading for this week, will be in class on Monday when we discuss his dissertation chapters. Please think of questions to ask him--about indigenous science, multicultural and literacy implications of indigenous and Western science, how he conducted his research, why he chose the topic, how he wrote his dissertation, etc. He will be in class from 2:30 to 3:30. Remember--you only need to read the assigned pages (but read more if you want to and have time).


Chapter 2: Review Of the Literature

In Chapter two Mark Bellcourt shines light into many aspects of educating Native American students. He explains that "traditionally" Native American teaching took place in "high context social situtations" (43). Children were taught what elders believed they needed to know and how they thought it should be taught to them. Teaching has changed today because now students are being taught on very structured schedules and in very structured spaces such as classrooms. There are 5 steps developed by Pewewardy that Mark believes will help Native Americans become more well educated.
1. Teachers must have knowledge of the Native American culture and their learning styles.
2. Teachers must "engage in self reflection and analysis of their own attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes" (45).
3. Teachers have to build strong relationships with students.
4. Everyone in the school sytem must "respect diversity" (46).
5. "Transformative curriculum that promotes critical thinking and the advancement of society toward equity of opportunity and social justice" (47). What this means is that teaching needs to engage students more.

Discussion Questions:
Which one of the five strategies do you think is most important and why?
If you could add one more strategy for better learning what would it be?
Do you think these strategies will work one by one or do they need to be implemented as a whole?
What strategy would you delete from this list if you had to and why?