This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner Home Page About ANKN Publications Academic Programs Curriculum Resources Calendar of Events Announcements Site Index This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide
 

Alaskan Eskimo Education:

A Film Analysis of Cultural

Confrontation in the Schools 

Preface

Alaskan Eskimo Education: A Film Analysis of Cultural Confrontation in the Schools is an account of the drama and challenge of an ecologically bound people attempting to find a place in the modern development, or disruption, that is sweeping the Alaskan Arctic.

Briefly, it is an account of White education for Brown people as taught by White teachers imported into the Arctic. What do the White teachers have to give the Eskimos? White ways and White values? Can they also offer Native students the opportunity to embrace themselves first as Eskimos, so that later they can be effective men and women whether in their own villages or in the White-dominated world? If White teachers cannot do this, if White programming cannot teach the whole Eskimo child, why not? If some teachers can, how do they do it?

This book is not an evaluation of teachers and schools as “superior” or “inferior”; rather it is an observation of educational communication between cultures. A central element in the challenge is the environment itself. For the Eskimos the Arctic tundra world is home-difficult, but understood and accepted. For the White teachers it is alien-not only difficult, but hostile and drastically isolated from their own cultural roots. How do White teachers carry on in such isolation? And what is the impact of their presence on the Eskimo community? The White teachers’ living style is seen to be as significant a part of White education as is the school curriculum.

This book is about both students and teachers attempting to work together. In the Arctic, as on the Navajo Reservation and elsewhere, we see students needing and wanting education, and teachers urgently attempting to bring it to them. We see dedicated, often very well-trained teachers putting great effort into their task of promoting the welfare of their Native students. Yet despite felt needs and great urgency, too often this schooling fails. Sometimes it may reach halfway to practical achievement. But only rarely do we find Native students, Eskimo or Indian, acquiring from their schools either the experience or the sophistication needed to survive either in their indigenous world or in the modern White world. Most of the students appear trapped in apprehensive suspension between cultures. Why does this happen so often, even with eager teachers? What is the nature of this failure? How does it take place? And what can be done about the human default that only an occasional teacher can remedy?

These problems are the challenge, the focus for our camera. Surely there will be clues in the film record of the school process that might describe failure when it happens and define success wherever it can be observed.

This book then does not discuss circumstances theoretically, but rather describes them concretely as recorded on film. Education, as it takes place in the classroom, is presented directly to the reader for his evaluation. The film-text attempts to focus realistically on Eskimo children as they work-or withdraw or simply pass the rime-and also on their teachers. The survey attempts to cover the full range of learning environments in West Central Alaska, in two isolated tundra villages, in the trading center of Bethel, and finally in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. Where do Eskimos learn best? And how do Eskimos learn best? This is our search in Alaskan Eskimo Education.

John Collier, Jr.

 

 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Contact
ANKN
Last modified November 19, 2008