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Friday, April 23, 2010

DANGEROUS MINDS

FIRST NATIONS PARTY OF CANADA Editorial by: Dwight Lavallee: “Dangerous Minds” is basically the writing of History in face of actuality of on going abuses brushed under the tables of our Parliamentarians’. These are my words to that effect. I do hope you see it, if possible. “Dangerous Minds”. Some of the social or cultural issues faced by students in the movie “Dangerous Minds” that contribute to inequality in education are cultural capital, family background and influence on education attainment, dominant society effects on school curriculum, and youth culture. Cultural Capital played a huge role in many scenes of the movie. Terry Wotherspoon defines it as the resources that people posses for economic and social success include not only wealth and economic assets, but also knowledge and understandings about social expectations, dominant values, and other pertinent information that institutions use in ongoing operations (52). In other words, it is the knowledge and skills that have been acquired in one’s lifetime that give them the advantage to achieve a higher status. This includes verbal skills, such as the difference between saying “going to the can” and “going to the lavatory”, the attitudes one holds on being able to achieve a goal, codes of ethics, or the knowledge of how a system works. Aptitude and money play less of a role then cultural values and attitudes (Jencks et all, 170). A child raised in a home with parents that are active in their education, are able to take them out to different social settings and hold a high value on achievement will be more likely to succeed in the future due to the knowledge possessed on how to handle themselves in their own social class. They would also possibly be more educated in how to behave in social classes higher than their own. Culture capital is not only passed on by a child’s family upbringing, but also from other institutions such as school, their place of work, and their religion. The movie has a scene where the student goes to the principle for help, not realizing because he was never taught, to knock on the door before entering. Because he lacked social etiquette he was sent away, and ultimately due to this ended up on the street, where he was shot and killed. Family background is a cultural issue as it has to do with the values a family holds dear concerning education and what they were taught when they were growing up. The education attained by previous generations affects the current students in the family. The students in the movie were acquiring most of their education from home because they were not taught to their needs at school. Due to most of the environments they were living in, they learned that criminal activity can possibly be a legitimate way to support their family, and that physical and territorial dominance is very important. Because this was what they were taught, this is all they know, and they will follow these teachings and also pass them on to their children unless it is intercepted. What we get then is generations of low income families, and also high income families, because every family passes on their knowledge to the next. In the Wotherspoon textbook, they explain using the example of how in post world war two periods the content of the education was manipulated to teach good citizenship, loyalty to the country and knowledge that would support capitalism and other North American interests (68). The mother that took her boys out of the teacher’s class is a perfect example, she was not taught the value of education, never experienced what it meant, and therefore believed that her boys don’t need to waste their time with it. Dominant society determines school policies, including the curriculum, in many aspects of education, definitely a social issue in our education system. The dominant society does not only have the power to determine who is allowed to teach, but what is taught, how it is taught, and who it is being taught to. “Some major companies are able to allocate some significant resources to promote products to teachers, administrators, and other decision making bodies” (Wotherspoon, 127). Not only are the businesses structured such as publishers effecting what materials are going into the schools, but also lobbying groups that feel they know what students should or should not be taught (Wotherspoon, 127). When the teacher went to the office, she was told that she is not able to teach anything but what the curriculum states. The book, although not suited for her class at all, was what was supposed to be taught and as a teacher she must follow these guidelines. Youth spend much of their time at school, and this is where many groups are formed among youth. When the students feel that it is more important to receive approval from their peers rather than their teachers, teachers in turn have no authority over them. Their identity is the one thing that youth are able to control themselves. They commit themselves to such cultures because of insecurities that they may have established while growing up (Wotherspoon, 137). Youth Culture, a cultural issue, was demonstrated by the cool kid not believing the teacher and not participating in class. Because of how youth culture works, the other students need his approval to really participate in her class, and when she finally got him ‘hook’, the others felt that it was okay to now participate fully. Each of these four factors is educational problems that all teachers are faced with and are demonstrated true to life in the movie. Youth cultures in the schools, their family background and their educational attainment, the influence of dominant society, and cultural capital are all prominent in our education systems and should be acknowledged in order to provide the best learning experience. There are multiple ways that education contributes to or restricts opportunities for social and economic success among diverse racial and ethnic groups in Canada, two of which are the multiculturalism policy in our schools, and the lack of proper education to those who in a lower social economic class. A major ethnic group of Canada are the Aboriginals. They are faced with many racial, poverty, and inequalities in our society. Out of all ethnic groups in Canada, they are by far left behind in terms of educational and social standing. With the introduction of programs for ethnic groups facing such challenges, they are able to achieve more than previous generations, but the limit of such programs to a small amount of people limits the majority that are in need of these programs. Without access to these programs to the majority of the aboriginal population there is little chance that the group as a whole will increase their social standing or economic success. Racism is a largely contributing factor to the problems that the aboriginal community faces due in part to the lack of aboriginal political representation, (FIRST NATIONS PARTY OF CANADA) the loss of aboriginal cultural identity, and the suppression of aboriginal beliefs within the educational system. Without proper political representation, Indian affairs are often mishandled and the community is misrepresented. (THIS IS ABOUT TO CHANGE). Without including the needs of the aboriginals into the education system, they will not have the means to achieve what they are capable of. An example is their heritage and beliefs. Schools largely do not focus enough on this, hence degrading their history and personal self worth, causing them to not only think less of themselves, but feel that they should not try to get out of this circle of circumstance. They give up, and when they do so their chance at a higher social and economic stand point diminishes as well along with their self worth and heritage. Multiculturalism is a major policy that has been included in Canada’s school system. It has been implemented to help ‘foster tolerance and understanding for the broad mosaic of cultural groups within Canadian society’ (Wotherspoon, 247). This policy has both helped contribute and restrict social success in our society. Although it is meant to help various cultures understand that we as humans are all equal and should be treated as such, if a school does not make sure that this is coming across fully a multicultural school can be devastating for the minority within it. Racism plays a huge role in this. If a multicultural school does not implement the knowledge that all are equal, and students are being racist, those that are on the receiving end of the racism, may it be verbal, physical, or anything else, they will feel less worthy, hatred, and even drop out. This in turn causes this minority to have achieved a lower level of education, and therefore be less able to receive a well paying job to rise in both the social and economic aspects. If they do however, receive an unbiased, fulfilling education, where students are taught the morals of being equal, they will not only gain the confidence and education needed to rise in their social and economic standing, but will be able to deal with situations where they are faced with racism and grow from it. Your comments are important: Thank you. Dwight Lavallee

Legislation Would Have New Language Laws

Manitoba News Release ............................................................ April 20, 2010 LEGISLATION WOULD RECOGNIZE ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF MANITOBA IN LAW - - - Proposals Would be First Step Toward Protecting, Promoting Province's Linguistic Heritage: Robinson New legislation which would recognize Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibway and Oji-Cree as the Aboriginal languages of Manitoba was introduced today in the legislature by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson. "Indigenous languages have vanished or are in danger of disappearing in many parts of the world and the same fate is possible for Manitoba's Aboriginal languages if we don't act now to protect them," said Robinson.  "This legislation is the first step toward preserving and promoting Manitoba's proud Indigenous language heritage for the benefit of future generations." According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, it is estimated that 25.2 per cent of Aboriginal Manitobans have knowledge of an Aboriginal language, down from 27.8 per cent from 2001. It is remarkable any of Canada's indigenous languages are still spoken following a century and a half of forced assimilation through the residential school system, said Robinson, noting the importance of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission now underway in Winnipeg in addressing past wrongs including language deprivation. "I've learned that when a language is taken away from a people, it's a major step toward the loss of a culture," said Robinson.  "Today there is once again pride and interest among Aboriginal youth in learning their languages and traditions but, in many cases, a painful past has resulted in a gap in traditional knowledge that needs to be bridged.  Government policies are to blame for this so it only makes sense that governments now take responsibility and action to address it." - 30 -