Child Research And Development Organisation
HISTORICALLY, three systems have served the Educational needs of Indians: Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, parochial or mission and public schools. Recently, through the office of Economic Opportunity, the tribes themselves established a fourth school system, primarily in the Headstart Program.
These systems – still involved in attempting to better the lot of the Indian-have had much experience in providing programs to meet Indians’ needs and have been in the business of education on and offreservations for many years. In spite of what they have attempted and of what contributions they have made, acute problems exist in the Indian Education field.
And Indian Education will not progress, develop or evolve into a dynamic field unless the problems inherent in it are identified and solved.
In an analysis of the situation, categorized problems into eight broad areas, from “lack of money” to “too many Indian experts”.
By far one of the most pressing problems is the unavailability of money or inadequate funding of Indian Education programs or systems. The demand far exceeds the supply, and available monies are only for the most basic Educational needs of the students. . . “the traditional curriculum”. Very small amount, if any, are available for innovative programs and ideas.
Without adequate funding, the ideology and philosophy of Indian Education become so many words. The concept of Indian Education faces a bleak future characterized by stagnation, insensitivity, inadequate facilities and personnel.
The irrelevant curricula, just what do we mean by the often-repeated phrase, irrelevant curricula? My definition is that it is schools not doing their job in meeting the needs of their students – especially Indian students. This area encompasses four necessary correction.
A Indian student presently is subjected to an Educational system geared to the needs of the non-Indian student without any concern to unique problems and backgrounds of the Indian.
By far the most glaring problems is the acute shortage of qualified Indians in Indians Education. Materialistic gains, incentives and opportunities entice the qualified Indians educator away from this challenging field. There is much hard work and many challenges in Indian Education: isolation, poor or inadequate facilities, eager but academically deprived students, but one’s ingenuity, creativity, patience and forbearance are put to a real test in facing these and other challenges. If Indian Education is to meet the needs of the students, if it is to have the sensitivity required, if it is to be dynamic and viable, it must have more qualified Indian educators- it must reach the stage where in it will challenge the Indian educator to take up arms to join its rank and to improve its lot.
It is tragic that this exists in the 20th Century. Too many administrators and teachers are not knowledgeable about the American Indian. Whether it is attributable to apathy, indifference or design does not lessen than problem. If school personnel are truly educators, it behoves them to learn about the people they are teaching. To fail in this task is to fail to educate. The burden of this responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the educator, and the exercise of that responsibility is long overdue.
As noted in the section on irrelevant curricula, the American Educational system is foreign in concept, principle and objective to the Indian student. The thinking, attitudes and experiences of the non-Indian are the base of the value structure rather than the aspects of Indian culture. Thus the Educational perspectives of the Indian are not considered. The Indian views Education as providing him with immediate practical skills and tolls, not a delayed achievement of goals or as means for a future gain.
The Indian has not been able to express his ideas on school programming or Educational decision-making. When they have been expressed, his participation has been limited and restricted. If problems in Indian Education are to be resolved, the Indian citizen must become involved. He needs to have more controls on the program to which his children are exposed, to have a say in what type of courses are in the curriculum, to help hire teachers, to establishment employment policies and practices, and all of the other responsibilities vested in school administrations-that of being on a board of Education. There are working examples of Indian-controlled school boards. These dynamic systems point up the fact that Indians can handle school matters. It is time that more Indians became involved in such control.
Colleges and universities need to establish programs which can deal effectively with the problems and needs of the Indian students-if he is to remain in school. In general, the Indian students has an inadequate Educational background as he may have been looked upon as less than college material in high school. He has unusual adjustment problems and usually inadequate financial help. It is time that more colleges and universities attempt to solve these development factors and provide a more successful Educational experience for the Indian student.
To the determinant of Indian Education and its growth, each day sprouts more “instants Indian Education experts”, who do more damage than good. Usually, these experts have all the answers: they have completely identified the problems and have formulated solutions, but they leave it to the Indian to implement. Again, the Indian is given something to implement which he has had no part in formulating. These experts usually depend on superficial, shallow studies done in one visit to a reservation or school, or they depend on one or two conference with Indians who have little or no knowledge of the critical problems confronting the Indian generally. Indian Education can well do without these experts who cannot be reasoned with or who feel they know what is the best for the Indian.
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