Learning Respect











My dad has been a bush-pilot for the last 30 years and I have been privileged enough to fly around to roughly a dozen villages. I also had an amazing experience of visiting the village of Nikolski on Umnak island for a month. I got to observe one of my best friend’s dad, Tyler Schlung, teach on a daily basis. These village trips opened my eyes up to the difficulties of teaching successfully in a village. However, by watching Mr. Schlung teach, I realized how powerful an excellent teacher can be out in the bush. This is how I would then answer the prompt.

The bush villages have their own culture different from any town or city on the road system. In order for a teacher to be effective they have to learn about the culture in which they teach. They have to know how to interact with the people of the village, and know how to respect cultural boundaries and rules through those interactions. From reading this article and through personal experience, one of the biggest objects of any teacher is to establish respect in the student-teacher relationship especially in a village setting. I think this is even more critical in bush Alaska because many new teachers in the bush are focused on getting their respect but do not focus on the respect they need to give their students. In this way the students realize that their teacher really does care about who they are as a person and who they are as a culture.

The article highlights good points about how different ways of presenting emotion or physical touch affect white students and native students differently. It is imperative for teachers to realize this before they do their first day of teaching. It seems that if a teacher is going to teach in the bush, they should speak to the parents of the students or the village elders if possible in order to understand the different nuances of the the village culture. It shows the people of that village that you really care about their children by trying to learn from and respect their culture. I believe that sometimes teachers do not take the time to form relationships of mutual respect with their students and the rest of the village.

Another way in which a teacher can build and form his student-teacher relationship is by having set goals for learning. I agree with the article when its states that “real thinking is needed as to goals desired in educating these other-cultural students’ (Kleinfeld, 317). Especially if a white teacher is going to the village to teach, careful planning on how to develop teaching goals is imperative. I think a teacher in his own culture can readily identify good teaching objectives. However, teaching cross-culturally takes much more time and energy. Knowing what is best for the students in a village might not always be that obvious to a university trained white teacher.



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