What I, as a White, Westernized Alaskan think about Native Education… isn’t it ironic?

I find it ironic that this post is written by a white man and we are all white people talking about the future of NATIVE education. I don’t think its wrong for white people to talk about it but it made me laugh to myself realizing the irony. As far as the blog itself is concerned, I believe the author is well intentioned and does have some good points that he can back up with experience.

I agree with the author that there is some necessary changes that do need to be made in Native Education. I do believe that Native society is overly dependent on the United States government for money, housing and transportation. I believe, like anyone else in their situation, they took what was offered to them and now are blamed for being too dependent on government funding. Education I believe is fundamentally controlled by government and Western ideals and CAN be to the detriment of Native Alaskan students depending a lot on the teacher who is put in the village. As far as his advocacy of placed-based education, I think I would agree that this would be a good step in the right direction, especially if the results, as he says, “blend the Western and Native educational traditions.’ At this point in the game, you really can’t have one without the other.

I believe that Westerners have set up a system in education for White people to more easily become teachers in the villages. First off, you have to gain your degree or at least a teacher certification. Right off the bat, many Native Alaskans are at a disadvantage for getting a teaching job because they live out in the bush. Unless they are very motivated, they most likely will not complete a college degree because many still live out in the villages. I think a larger majority of white people have good opportunities right in front of them to jump through the hoops to become a teacher and many lean that way as a plan-B option if their original dream career does not pan out.

I have this sense (especially with the last paragraph) that the author has this super-idealistic vision that there will one day be no Western impact on how Native Alaskans choose to do their own education. I think this to be simply bogus. Whether Native Alaskans or Westerners alike hate the interaction between the two, its there and its not going anywhere unless all the white population ups and moves out. The key idea is collaboration. I believe that perhaps a teaching certification program specifically geared towards teaching in the rural Alaska needs to be implemented and possibly scholarships given specifically to Native Alaskans who want a job as a teacher in the villages. I think White people should also be allowed to be integrated into a program like this because people of all race, color, ect… teach in many different countries. As long as you are a good teacher, I don’t think it matters what culture you are in. But part of being a good teacher is understanding the culture you teach in (whether your own or anothers) and Native Alaskan’s would be more suited to teaching in a rural setting. I realize I am over-simplifying the situation and throwing out a remedy that very much is idealistic. I just think that some program specifically needs to be geared towards education in rural Alaska.

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