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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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Lessons Taught, Lessons Learned Vol. I


While there have been many reports over the years describing and analyzing schooling processes in rural Alaska, only rarely have we had an opportunity to see those processes through the eyes of the teacher. This collection of essays provides one such opportunity.

The essays included here were selected from over fifty that were submitted by teachers who participated in the First Annual Rural Alaska Instructional Improvement Academy in Fairbanks in May, 1987. The essays were written as a followup to the academy, based on the teachers' reflections on their own experiences in rural schools, as well as on the academy workshops they attended and on the four readings included in the last section of this publication. The teachers were asked to write about either their own notion of the ideal schooling process for rural Alaska (first section of essays), or what they considered to be an appropriate curriculum unit for village schools (second section).

Although the essays represent a range of views on, and experiences with schooling in rural Alaska, even the casual reader will recognize the common threads of a strong commitment to improving the quality of education in village schools, and a willingness to be innovative in pursuit of that goal. Teachers themselves don't always recognize the level of insight into social, cultural and educational issues they have acquired while struggling with the day-to-day challenges of teaching. This collection of essays provides ample evidence of the creative energy, the curriculum sophistication, and the cultural sensitivity that is present in Alaska's rural schools.

These teachers, and the many others like them, are the unsung heroes of our educational system, breaking new ground in pursuit of better ways. To them, this collection of essays is offered in salute.

As the editor, I wish to express my appreciation to all those who have helped pull this publication together: Jackie Scholle and Annmarie Kuhn for their typing and editing skills; Jean Findley for converting the material from disk to final document; and Kelly Tonsmeire for sponsoring the Rural Alaska Instructional Improvement Academy and providing the financial support for this publication. Finally, I want to thank all the teachers who participated in the academy and those who submitted essays that weren't included in this collection. I hope you will find your ideas and concerns represented in the essays that follow.


Ray Barnhardt, Editor 

University of Alaska
Fairbanks, April, 1988



J. Kelly Tonsmiere


Ray Barnhardt

Section I

Some Thoughts on Village Schooling
"Appropriate Schools in Rural Alaska"
Todd Bergman, New Stuyahok

"Learning Through Experience"
Judy Hoeldt, Kaltag

"The Medium Is The Message For Village Schools"
Steve Byrd, Wainwright

"Multiple Intelligences: A Community Learning Campaign"
Raymond Stein, Sitka

"Obstacles To A Community-Based Curriculum"
Jim Vait, Eek

"Building the Dream House"
Mary Moses-Marks, McGrath

"Community Participation in Rural Education"
George Olana, Shishmaref

"Secondary Education in Rural Alaska"
Pennee Reinhart, Kiana

"Reflections on Teaching in the Kuskokwim Delta"
Christine Anderson, Kasigluk

"Some Thoughts on Curriculum"
Marilyn Harmon, Kotzebue

Section II

Some Suggestions for the Curriculum
"Rabbit Snaring and Language Arts"
Judy Hoeldt, Kaltag

"A Senior Research Project for Rural High Schools"
Dave Ringle, St. Mary's

"Curriculum Projects for the Pacific Region,"
Roberta Hogue Davis, College

"Resources for Exploring Japan's Cultural Heritage"
Raymond Stein, Sitka

"Alaskans Experience Japanese Culture Through Music"
Rosemary Branham, Kenai

Section III

Some Alternative Perspectives
"The Axe Handle Academy: A Proposal for a Bioregional, Thematic Humanities Education"
Ron and Suzanne Scollon

"Culture, Community and the Curriculum"
Ray Barnhardt

"The Development of an Integrated Bilingual and Cross-Cultural Curriculum in an Arctic School District"
Helen Roberts

"Weaving Curriculum Webs: The Structure of Nonlinear Curriculum"
Rebecca Corwin, George E. Hem and Diane Levin

Artists' Credits



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Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
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Last modified August 14, 2006