Cultural Standard B:

A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future.

1. Recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning in the principles and practices associated with that knowledge

2. Provides students with an understanding of the dynamics of cultural systems as they change over time, and as they are impacted by external forces

3. Incorporates the in-depth study of unique elements of contemporary life in Native communities in Alaska, such as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, subsistence, sovereignty and self-determination.

Our group’s main takeaway from this standard is that all cultures have a past, present, and future. It is harmful and misleading to refer to any culture with terms like “ancient,” or in same cases, “traditional,” as these can imply a strictly past-tense understanding of a culture, which reinforces the wrongheaded idea that modernity belongs solely to Western society. Cultures are constantly developing, and the present-day milieu has been built on contributions from around the world. Omnipresent things like algebra and astronomy have non-Western roots, which is important to stress in a math or science classroom.

It is also vital to understand as a teacher that the vocabulary of the classroom is not in any way more “correct” than other vocabularies; it is merely different. Students come from different language backgrounds and from homes with different dialects, vocabularies, and cadences. Teachers have to work with students to reach similar understandings rather than marginalizing those from different backgrounds.

2 thoughts on “Standards”

  1. YES! In my anthropology/sociology classes, we so often talked about how “traditional” does not mean “old.” Indigenous peoples don’t usually wear regalia on a daily basis and they use running water, modern technology, etc. Many people (students) won’t realize this unless we point it out in our teaching. It also reminds me of Ernestine Hayes’ comment about how if Western culture had never set foot in Alaska, indigenous people would still have concrete, and technology….they would still be modern! They ARE modern! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Tim,

    I agree that it is important to be careful with each word or term that is selected when dealing with any culture. As you said, words such as “ancient” might be harmful in the wrong context. It is important to incorporate or discuss what terms are most appropriate and respectful when dealing with an unknown culture. It seems that your post is highlighting the importance of taking the safe road when swimming into uncharted waters.

    Thank you for your time,
    Mason Shearer

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