Native American

Topics: Education, Native Americans in the United States, United States Pages: 10 (2493 words) Published: April 30, 2014
Before contact with Europeans, Native Americans developed an effective system of informal education call aboriginal education. The system included transmitting knowledge, values, skills, attitudes, and dispositions to the next generation in real world settings such as the farm, at home, or on the hunting ground. Native American educational traditions passed on culture needed to succeed in society. Education was viewed as a way to beautify and sharpen the next generation and prepare them to take over the mantle of leadership. The purpose of education was for an immediate induction of the next generation into society and preparation for adulthood. Education was for introducing society with all its institutions, taboos, mores, and functions to the individual. Also, education was intended for making the individual a part of the totality of the social consciousness. Native American education delineated social responsibility, skill orientation, political participation, and spiritual and moral values. The cardinal goals of Native American education were to develop the individual’s latent physical skills and character, inculcate respect for elders and those in authority in the individual, and help the individual acquire specific vocational training (Franklin, 1979). Native American education was also for developing a healthy attitude toward honest labor, developing a sense of belonging and encouraging active participation in community activities. Both boys and girls had equal access to education. Boys were taught by their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and other male elders. Girls were instructed by their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, female elders and other members of their families. Sometimes, both boys and girls received instruction at the feet of either male or female elders (Mould, 2004). There were barely any dropouts and the community ensured that every child received a full education. Youth appropriate information and knowledge was not hidden from any child. Several teaching strategies, including storytelling, were utilized to pass on knowledge and culture to the youth. In fact, Mould (2004) believed that storytelling was a sacred and vital part of a Native American youth’s education. Knowledge and culture were passed down orally, “crafted into stories that would instruct, inspire, provoke, question, challenge, and entertain” (Mould, 2004). Often, the youth would gather together to listen to the elders as they related the knowledge once entrusted to them when they were children (Mould, 2004). The philosophy of education was that of the development of the individual as well as the whole society (Johnson et al., 2005). Educational philosophy also emphasized the importance of nature. The pursuit of knowledge and happiness were subordinated to a respect for the whole universe. According to Johnson, knowledge was equated with an understanding of one’s place in the natural order of things and educators were encouraged to study and teach the physical and social world by examining the natural relationships that exist among things, animals, and humans. Studying ideas in the abstract or as independent entities was not considered as important as understanding the relationships among ideas and physical reality. The essential components of an educational experience included hands on learning, making connections, holding discussions, taking field trips, and celebrations of the moment (Johnson et al., 2005). These highly effective teaching methods were utilized by adults to transmit culture to or educate the next generation. The youth learned at their own pace and barely competed against one another. The youth were taught to be supportive and nurturing of one another in the learning process. As a result of the holistic education that all youth were exposed to in the period before their contact with Europeans, there were barely any miseducated Native American children. At the time of European contact with Native Americans (from 1492),...
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