Monday, November 26, 2012

Hidden Curriculum

Hidden Curriculum: Notes of a Lakota Mother

As part of my graduate studies at the University of Arizona, I took a course in Curriculum, and expected to do curriculum writing, look at models of set curriculum, learn about state standards, etc.  What I did not expect was a course that would divulge me into the study of not just curriculum on the surface level, but curriculum as a CONCEPT of the reality that we construct for students as we teach in classrooms.  More importantly, how the "banking concept of education," (Freire, 1983) was widely practiced still, and I began to relate as both a student and teacher to the concept that there were clear distinctions yet to be made in the discipline of Native American education, especially to reservation education.  I came to the conclusion that a different concept of education was needed (Friere, 1983):

In problem posing education, men develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which an in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation. (p 289)

As a critical thinker, I have tackled many aspects of introducing culture into my own curriculum, adjusting my prose to encourage students to be critical thinkers capable of combating problems on our reservations, and, reinforced the necessity for students to know where they come from.  As apart of this, I have told many stories in my classroom, stories about our beginning as the Pte, the buffalo people, who became the Pte Oyate and the Oceti Sakowin.  There are stories of the heavens, of the sky, of the Star People, those of Iktomi, and those of Creation. 

Yet, as I sat with my own child, of six years the other day, she pointed at the moon and asked, "Mom, what is the name of the moon?"

I replied, "That is Hanwi.  She is the moon."

My child then questioned, "Is the moon a girl?"

"Yes, she is a woman," I confirmed.

"How do you know that she is a woman?" the little one pressed.

"Because it is in the story of our people, the Lakota people," I explained, and she looked puzzled.  But I told her that I would tell her the story later.

I concluded with, "She is apart of the Tunkasilas, of Wakan Tanka, of who we are."

I haven't sat down and told her what she needs to know yet.  This brings my thinking to the necessity of not only having a hidden curriculum concerning the teaching of Lakota students or minority students on a broader sense, but introducing very important oral traditions at home.

There has never been a time more important than now to do the storytelling this winter with my own children.  The Creation Story is a wonderful story.  And although I am not fluent in the Lakota language, by knowing the names of the spirits, the major and minor arcana spirits who create what we know as "Wakan Tanka," or "The Great Mystery," it creates an understanding of many things that I hear during the sacred ceremonies that I participate in.

This brings me back to my studies in "The Hidden Curriculum," a decade ago.  James Macdonald, in his article, "Curriculum, Consciousness, and Social Change," he extends more thinking into my identified need of using culture in my teachings at home (1983):

The quality of our experience resides in the relationships of our lives.  Thus, the way we relate to other people, the way we organize and administer power, the relationship of our work to our self-esteem, how we feel about what we are doing, and what meaning our lives have in concrete contexts are all ways of thinking about the quality of our experience. (p 297).

Further, as I think about changing the social constructs of my household, to include teachings of our creation as a Lakota people, I extend my thinking also into the realm of how my own learning has created a different type of consciousness.  This is a consciousness of loss and deculturalization that we have learned for our oppressors, and the reasons behind why I have forgotten to teach my own children the culture knowledge that I have, and those things which I know to be essential to the understanding of rituals and ceremonies in the Lakota culture and language.  Therefore, as I examine my own practices in parenting, and as I have identified that I need to create more learning opportunities for my children to experience the oral tradition of the Lakota culture, I am reminded by Macdonald (1983) that:

... liberating social change necessarily involves breaking up conditioned and pre-set attitudes, values, and meanings attached to present social phenomena in a manner that allows people to sense the potential within themselves for change and growth, from powerlessness to power, and from alienation to relationship and commitment.  (p. 301).

Finally, I can only change my own practices about  my own practices, or non-practices as they are.  I am shifting the social construct in my home, away from the teachings of the mainstream, and back to the beginning of our people... the Pte Oyate, the buffalo people, the Sicangu Oyate, and how we came to be the Oceti Sakowin in the first place. 

References include:

Freire, Paulo. (1983). "The Banking Concept of Education."  The Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education: Deception or Discovery.  Giroux, Henry and Purpel, David (Editors).  Pp. 283-291.

Macdonald, James. (1983).  "Curriculum, Consciousness, and Social Change."  The Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education: Deception or Discovery. Giroux, Henry and Purpel, David (Editors). Pp. 292-308.

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