In my cohort group for American Schooling we were discussing “deculturalization” and one member directed us to the following NPR special:

NPR: American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many

During the 1940’s, Native American tribes who were considered to be the most recently “hostile” were targeted for “civilization” through boarding school programs. The intent of the schooling was to transform Native American children completely, ridding them of their native languages, customs, and even names. A few of these High Schools remain in operation today; however, the circumstances have changed. Their culture is embraced at these facilities and many Native Americans are fighting to keep them open. They risk closure due to a lack of funding.

I was initially shocked to realize that this was occurring during the 1940’s, but after reflecting on what else was occurring at the time period, I remembered that the Japanese were being placed in internment camps, Chinese were denied citizenship, and African Americans were still battling for minimal rights and equality. One cannot deny that injustices occurred, and in order to move towards a post-racial society, we must recognize this in our classrooms.

It is important to challenge student’s beliefs and allow them to recognize their own voices. As teachers, we bring our own culture to the class as well as create one within the classroom. Even something as little as a student’s exposure to an open-minded teacher can make a difference in the way one views another.


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