The Future of Alaska Native Education

On one hand I completely agree with the idea that this article is trying to convey, we should not attempt to education Native Alaskan students in a way which completely depletes or destroys their own culture. However, I think leaving the education of Native Alaskan students in rural areas up to their elders is also not a very good idea in the long run, if those students ever want to find employment outside of their home town. In America we anticipate that people will have a certain knowledge base and if part of that base is missing, it is difficult for people to get jobs, make friends and otherwise succeed. While I doubt anyone is suggesting that we abandon these villages to their own devices entirely, I think it is also important to remember that Alaska, including it’s nooks and crannies, is part of America and that Alaskans are therefore our responsibility to equip for the American job market and social structures. Many students in these rural villages now are looking into opportunities such as going to college and if they are not equipped with the tools to attend a regular classroom, converse in that classroom, learn in that classroom and grow from that experience we educators have done that student a great disservice.

Incorporating culture into the classroom is vital, and letting those cultures thrive and continue to grow is valuable beyond our comprehension. However, the students still need some incorporation of modern Americanized culture in their classroom in order to prepare them for life outside of their village should they choose such a route. I like articles like this for their ability to make people think about their own perceptions for what others need, but I also think there is no black and white answer for how to deal with education in rural Alaska. Place based education is a good step, but it isn’t a solid solution in my mind at this time.

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