Experiences in Native Studies 10: sharing student and teacher perspectives
Amiotte, Nicole M.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how Native Studies 10 contributes to increasing Saskatchewan students' knowledge and understandings concerning Aboriginal peoples. In visits to a Native Studies 10 course, which had a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, in an urban community within Saskatchewan, the teaching of the Native Studies course was observed over the duration of two semesters. Four students and the classroom teacher were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. The major findings of this study were that, although all participants believed the course could reduce racism, the participants elected to take the course for different reasons. The participants reported that prior to the Native Studies 10 course, they did not have Aboriginal content integrated into their other courses, with the exception of Cree language courses. Two participants elected to take Native Studies because they believed it was easier than social studies or history, one chose the course because it was familiar, and one believed it to be a good educational course. The classroom teacher incorporated a variety of learning activities into the classroom. The teacher believed students were enrolled in the course because they were looking for an alternative to social studies or history. He also identified some of the challenges of teaching Native Studies 10. Native Studies 10 is not offered in all schools in Saskatchewan and it is being taken by a limited number of students. Because the participants believed there were positive benefits to taking the course, increased enrolment would be desirable. A challenge that exists for the course at present is to increase the number of students taking the course and the rate of course delivery. Additionally, there should be increased supports for teachers of Native Studies by means of education, community support, and elder involvement. Ultimately, rewriting high school curricula to be more inclusive of Aboriginal content and perspectives would ensure that all students have opportunities to learn these, not only those students who take the course. However, until a number of supports are in place to implement this change, Native Studies courses benefit those students who participate in them. In addition, Aboriginal content and perspectives should be further integrated at all levels of the curricula.