Friday, 8 November 2013

Where Do We Stand in Regards to Aboriginal Education? Radio Documentary

This radio documentary is presented by classmates, Morgan Christie, Brandy Lippoway, Nicole Vaughan, and Brady Pullman. We are all students in the Faculty of Education here at the University of Manitoba. Currently in our class, EDUA 1500 Aboriginal Education, we are studying where Aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples position themselves in regards to Aboriginal studies and education. Manitoba has a large Aboriginal population, full of Aboriginal culture, traditions and communities. Throughout Kindergarten – Grade 12 students in Manitoba study and learn about culture traits and the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
Throughout our study we targeted two significant components, First of all, we looked at who should study/or research Aboriginal Education to create the curriculum or content? and secondly we looked at who should teach this content to the students? During this radio documentary, we will summarize our findings and ask the personal opinions of two University of Manitoba instructors teaching the Faculty of Education; Gary Babiuk and Frank Deer.
Producers:  Morgan Christie,  Brandy Lippoway, Nicole Vaughan, Brady Pullman
-  Gary Babiuk, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education, Professor
-  Frank Deer, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education, Professor
 Songs: Red Revolution: Indigenous National Anthem, Sung by Ila Barker


  1. Thank you for this documentary folks! I appreciated listening to the interviewees and the knowledge and experiences that they bring to this issue. I think Gary Babiuk has it right when he says that Aboriginal teachers ought to be teaching Aboriginal students, especially on reserves. This is certainly the ideal, although in most cases today it is not attainable due to lack of Aboriginal teachers. I think that Babiuk is correct because there is a greater connection made between teacher and student if they come from the same background. Naturally, they understand each other better. If teachers are to be incorporating Aboriginal culture and content into the curriculum, it is more authentic if the teacher actually comes from that particular background. I think that the students would sense this too - that the best case scenario is for the teacher and student to belong to the same background. Especially on a reserve, the Aboriginal teacher would have a greater understanding of the background of the child, and most likely know how to connect with the students on a more personal basis than a non-Aboriginal teacher would. There are different ways to interact and reach children depending on which culture the student comes from. In this case, an Aboriginal teacher would have the best chance of connecting with and influencing their students, because their personal experience is an critical asset which non-Aboriginal teachers do not have.

    When making a curriculum with Aboriginal content, I think Frank Deer’s answer to this question is common-sense. He says that there has to be people on the curriculum development team that have “authentic community based knowledge”. When learning about the Aboriginal perspectives of a certain area, such as in Manitoba, you want to have people that can actually provide authentic feedback and knowledge to be integrated into the curriculum. The goal of Aboriginal perspectives in the curriculum and Aboriginal teachers for students, is to make the learning experience authentic. The more that Aboriginal people are involved in their own education, the more authentic this education will turn out to be. This would be seen as a de-colonizing effect also, which many Aboriginal leaders are trying to achieve today.

  2. As Gary Babiuk explained though his own personal experience, many Westerners have very little experience with First Nations people. It is difficult to integrate perspectives and values of other cultures that we as teachers do not belong to. This places our multicultural student population at a great disadvantage.
    The Manitoba curriculum is working towards incorporating aboriginal perspectives into our classrooms. I think where the difficultly comes is we do not have enough certified Aboriginal teachers that could teach the entire aboriginal population. In Canada Aboriginal teachers comprise only three percent of the overall teaching population. Additionally being First Nations does not mean that they have a true understanding of aboriginal culture, no thanks to residential schools where generations of aboriginal children were removed from their families and communities where traditional aboriginal knowledge came from.
    I agree with Frank Deer that the idea that a non-aboriginal person cannot teach aboriginal education is ludicrous. Can a teacher of Asian descent not teach about African history? If they have authentic exposure to the culture would they not be more certified then an African teacher raised in the Toronto suburbs all their life? With proper training it is a definite possibility that a teacher of any culture could incorporate aboriginal perspectives in their classroom. If aboriginal students were to be only taught by aboriginal teachers who taught aboriginal perspectives would that not lead to students who do not understand other cultures and perspectives? In my eyes that would be like a Caucasian family saying they would have only Caucasian teachers teaching their children using Caucasian perspectives and values. On top of being labeled racist I feel they would disadvantage their children from experiencing all the other wonderful cultures and differences there are in the world we live in.

  3. I really enjoyed listening to this radio broadcast. Gary Babiuk and Frank Deer offered great insights into the complex subject of who should research and teach Aboriginal Education. I agree with Babiuk and Deer's perspective that since there are not many Aboriginal teachers, it is not realistic or necessary to have only Aboriginal teachers teach Aboriginal Education. However, Gary Babiuk also made a great observation that as much as possible, it would be beneficial to have Aboriginal teachers teach in the reserves to hopefully be better able to meet the needs of the students. I believe that no matter where teachers are to teach, it is crucial for all of them to be have knowledge about Aboriginal Education and to be sensitive to the needs of the students.

    I was impressed to learn that Louis Riel School Division has Elders come into the schools to teach the students about aspects of Aboriginal culture and spirituality. I agree with Frank Deer that even though teachers don't have to be Aboriginal to teach Aboriginal Education, many teachers don't have the background and/or feel comfortable to teach some very important aspects of Aboriginal culture, such as spirituality. I believe no matter how educated a teacher may be in teaching Aboriginal Education, students and teachers could really benefit from getting the opportunity to learn first hand from an Elder at least a few times per school year.

    Even though we still have a long ways to go, I believe that teacher education about Aboriginal Education has come a long ways over the years. I think it's crucial that the Faculty of Education continues to require its teacher candidates to take at least one course in Aboriginal Education. I believe teacher candidates should continuously seek to learn more about Aboriginal Education. Rebecca Chartrand offers hopeful insight into the progress that is being made in educating teachers: “...many teachers have become more sensitive to their Aboriginal students and are striving to learn more that would help them in the classroom.” As a teacher candidate, I plan to continue my learning journey of Aboriginal Education to better serve my future students.