In the last few years I have been working both in uh Alaska and in the south western United States uh with groups in indigenous communities um Upic and Alfabaskin Indian in in the case of Alaska, uh and Navajo particularly uh and also uh some of the Pueblo groups in the south west. And the special challenge there it’s really an exaggeration of the challenge in all bilingual situations where there’s English as a dominate language and some other language. Even in the case of Spanish which uh is the most frequent other language in communities in classrooms in the Unites States, even in the case of Spanish(cough) in any uh school that is trying in any way to be bilingual uh the challenge is to validate the status and the use of the non English language. English as a language is so powerful in this country, um that it’s very hard to get not just space for the other language but status for the other language. There’s a quite a well known um Spanish English bilingual two way bilingual school in Washington DC been in uh been in business the Oyster School, for a number of years and uh has been a very successful school. But even there in an established two way bilingual school maintaining the status of Spanish is tough. Now if that’s tough in the case of Spanish how much tougher it is in the case of Upic in a small village uh near the Berring Sea in western Alaska, or in small uh communities on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona. Uh where uh the languages are in danger because of the increasing dominance of English uh and television and satellite cables and so on. Uh and uh where even students may not see the value because of the larger society around them. The value of their own heritage language and it may be only a heritage language for some in some communities and uh uh in some families. Um so that trying to uh trying to enhance the uh emotional communicative symbolic lang uh status of the language is um a big struggle. Uh and one of the ways that uh in some of these uh places where language revitalization attention to indigenous languages that are endangered where uh that is uh a primary goal one thing that uh in some places has been stressed is telecommunications in that language with computers. Computers for kids are the modern thing. And if this heritage language can be seen as not just the old the olden ways from the olden days, but something that is living today and can even live in computers and through computers, so in Hawaii where there is a very active energetic movement for the revival uh in schools as well as communities of the native indigenous Hawaiian language, uh they have uh bulletin boards and chat rooms in Hawaiian language and uh Navajo in some of the schools on the Navajo reservation, uh they’ve been using uh uh Navajo font on computers for some years so that uh students in high school who would do research projects in the community uh could type up their reports in Navajo on their computers. And bilingual high school newspaper could print uh articles in Navajo as well as as as English. Uh that’s just one example of uh uh enhancing uh a one way of enhancing the the status the image um the symbolic significance of the endangered indigenous uh language. Not instead of having elders come into the community uh and uh many other more traditional ways of using the language in traditional activities, but to let children see that this is not just as I say from the olden days and for use in olden ways, it can be used in 2001 very modern ways as well as a medium of communication uh different from English but for other purposes very very important.
Hansbrow: Beede Seattle Tape #9 side A page PAGE 1
Uh if we’re gonna improve teaching uh uh I think we need to evolve uh a different uh system then we now have uh available. The the thing that I am struck by as I travel around and work at schools where uh teachers are trying to improve is how at each school that I work with these groups they’re struggling with the same problem which is developing what I will call a professional knowledge base about teaching. And by that I mean uh the detailed knowledge of each topic in their field. So for example, uh in uh in English literature a sufficient knowledge of uh a particular genre of literature that is taught in the grade level in say high school. That they have a full knowledge not only of that genre themselves, as an adult they understand it but that they have a full knowledge of how uh a child would understand it of the age that they teach. So they teach 9th graders or 10th graders or 11th graders, there’s a different levels of understanding. This is detailed, specific knowledge uh and there’s, I could elaborate on what I mean by that. For which we have no method of accumulating and sharing so it’s as if each generation of teachers, individually or in small groups and in rather uh uh hectic and hodge podege way, scattered way, res reinvents and discovers this knowledge. Uh Duey said that the saddest thing is when a teacher leaves and retires or dies that all that knowledge goes with them because we have no way of capturing and sharing it. And that’s what I see now is a move toward collaborative teacher development as teachers are meeting, grade level groups and other uh in other uh other organizations. Uh their they’re struggling to develop this knowledge and we’re doing it now in every school that is not being done in a systematic way. I think one of the major challenges over the next uh generation is to find a way to accumulate that knowledge to share it among all the teachers uh in order to um to accomplish our goal of approving teachers uh uh in our country.