ERIC Number: ED382960
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Techo Tensions in an Athabascan Indian Classroom.
Brown, Stephen G.
A compositionist teaching high school on an Athabascan Indian Reservation near Anchorage, Alaska, encountered considerable resistance from his students when attempting to see them through a college-prep program. Their initial hostility toward him masked their deep need for an adult role model who was not abusive, neglectful, or alcoholic. It was a preemptive strike against pain, bewilderment, and loss that attends the severing of close ties to teachers who leave after only a few years on the reservation. Eventually cognizant of the odds against any of his students attending college, the instructor found himself questioning the "cultural bleaching" he seemed to be engaged in. His experience with the Athabascan students reinforced Min-Zhan Lu's contention that the goal of helping students gain membership in the dominant culture was unrealistic given the impossibility of full assimilation, irrelevant given the nature of their aspirations (which did not include college), and unethical with respect to the traumatic effects of deracination it imposes on them. Engagement with composition theory revitalized and reoriented his teaching on the reservation. In the future, he would orient instruction away from the academic literacy of the classroom and toward the lived realities of the students, reasoning that a borderland classroom requires a pedagogy suited to the borderlands. Instruction would be aimed at fostering reculturation into a traditional, but renascent culture. It would encourage students to name their conflicted realities, to bridge the abyss between the classroom and the community. (Contains 21 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Alaska; Athapascan (Tribe); Composition Theory; Critical Pedagogy; Literacy as a Social Process
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (46th, Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995).