Issues of Cultural Discontinuities in the Education of Aboriginal Students

By:
Dr Nathalie Piquemal
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Using ethnographic and reflective narrative methods in an inner-city kindergarten classroom with a high proportion of Aboriginal children from Ojibway and Cree ancestries in Western Canada, this paper explores issues of cultural discontinuities as often experienced by Aboriginal students as they move from their home environment to a school environment.
This paper begins with the recognition that students whose culture differ from the mainstream culture often experience difficulties in their school experiences because they do not conform to the ways in which schools choose to define what constitutes learning. In particular, I explore how cross-cultural interactions with Aboriginal students are sometimes misinterpreted by teachers. In doing so, I focus on Aboriginal interaction patterns often referred to as strategies of indirection, such as non-interference and non-competitiveness. I then explore Aboriginal children's cross-cultural experiences as they often struggle between their own cultural conventions and the school's. I do so by reflecting on my own research experiences with Aboriginal people in educational and research contexts. Finally, reflecting on the conversations that I had with Aboriginal children, community members, and Aboriginal educational consultants, I explore some of the options and challenges that teachers may face when developing culturally responsive pedagogical practices with Aboriginal students.
Concluding remarks will be shared on how researchers may ethically position themselves in classroom ethnography with special attention to issues of power, caring and advocacy.


Keywords: Aboriginal Education, Cultural Sensitivity, Classroom Ethnography, Interaction Patterns, Cultural Discontinuity
Stream: Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr Nathalie Piquemal

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba
Canada

Nathalie Piquemal is originally from France where she completed her Master's degree in Education and Anthropology. She moved to Canada in 1994 where she began doing ethnographic research with Aboriginal people. She received her PhD from the University of Alberta in 1999 in both Departments of Education and Anthropology. Nathalie joined the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in 2000. She teaches courses in Cross-Cultural Education, Aboriginal Education, and Ethics in Research within Aboriginal Contexts. She works in collaboration with Aboriginal people in Canada and in the United States on the issues of cultural discontinuities and cultural congruence in education. She also works on the development of ethical protocols for research practices that are inclusive of Aboriginal perspectives. Recently her work has taken her in the area of Language, Cultural and Education, as she has conducted a recent in France on the notion of the notion of social suggestive norms in foreign language learning. Some of her publications include: Piquemal, N. (2004) "Relational ethics in cross-cultural teaching: Teacher as researcher." Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy. Issue32, July1. Piquemal, N. (2003). "From Native North American Oral Traditions to Western Literacy. Storytelling in Education." Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 49(2): 113-122. Piquemal, N. (2001). "Free and informed consent in research involving Native American communities." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 5 (1), 65-79. Piquemal, N. (2001). "Langue maternelle, langue ancestrale: un paradoxe linguistique." TESL Canada Journal, 18(2), 97-107.

Ref: L05P0150