I had a few thoughts about what education means in poorer areas such as in and around the reservation.
- They should have access to education of the same quality and caliber as any other student in America, or at least that state. But what specific pedagogy do you use? I don’t mean to sound elitist, but I think the schools in the area should offer the minimum general education requirements and then focus heavily on teaching and certifying technical skills. These are realistically what the people from these area are able to find work in, work that is vital to the community. Offering other courses such as those found at at W&L that are a bit more “fluff” like art history, music, drama are really not too useful to them. But if a student from the reservation would like the opportunity to study them, how do you prepare them when you focus on technical skills? I was very glad to hear the community college has an informal agreement with Arizona State and U of A to transfer students.
2. Culture. While I just said that the more “fluff” subjects be de-prioritized at the expense of technical education, I do believe that there is a place for education dealing with formal study of the student’s culture. Formal language , history and culture courses are essential if they want to maintain their culture. I am also impressed with how well they accommodate outsiders at the college. I saw they only had an about 85% Amerindian enrollment and the rest was other races. These people are given an amazing opportunity to study the culture. This is impressive to me because my own tribe (Kickapoo) limits who can and cannot learn about the culture, the language and the worldview. Even I can’t learn the language. I applied to learn it when I read it was listed as an endangered language. I was denied because I am Kickapoo maternally, and they say culture must be passed through a male relative to be valid.
3. After education, what’s next? This is the one I really struggle with, because I hope I can make this choice one day. After you graduate, after you get a great job, do you go back to help the place you grew up in? As we say in the water management office, it makes a huge difference to the community. If not it will face a massive “brain drain” where education may flow in, but the net benefits are realized elsewhere. As we also heard, they took a big pay gap when they went back to help their community. How can poor communities make themselves a valid option for the educated, the successful to come back and reinvest themselves in the society?
Any thoughts form the ECON portion of the class, I am super curious about #3