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Education The Lac du Flambeau Curriculum

Sonia Nieto’s Levels of Multiculturalism

This framework was used as critical multicultural criteria to evaluate data in the Lac Du Flambeau Project.

Mono-cultural Education: American Dream Metaphor
  • Overall, all aspects of the school reflect the dominant socio-economic structure and represent the dominant culture (white, Anglo-centric/Eurocentric, middle class, male, American English-speaking, heterosexual, able-bodied), which is seen as normal, natural and common sense.
  • The school emphasizes standardization, categorization, extreme individualism, surveillance, regulation, and totalization (see “mechanisms of power”). 
  • The content of textbooks and other resources are from the dominant cultural perspective only.
  • The external manifestation of culture—language, holidays, food, etc.—comes from a dominant perspective.
  • Historical perspectives and worldviews represent dominant socio-economic and cultural perspectives.
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) emphasize banking education (direct instruction) only.
  • Policy does not recommend inclusive practice in any educational area.
  • Staff, faculty, and administration are white and monocultural in outlook.
  • Schools are segregated by race and social class. 
  • There are no services/activities outside of the classroom for including and empowering under-served students.
  • Assimilation to dominant racial-ethnic/cultural perspectives is valued and expected.
  • There is a “colorblind” approach to “race.”
  • Teachers are not prepared to address the needs of immigrant students/English language learners, who are placed in mainstream classes where they “sink or swim,” or put in English classes to learn English.
  • Teachers and administration treat students who are different from the norm in terms of race, culture, ethnic and gender practice, sexual orientation, language, physical and intellectual ability with lower expectations (deficit theory).
Tolerance: Melting Pot Metaphor
  • Overall, differences are endured but not embraced; language and cultural practices are modified to meet the dominant model; assimilation to the dominant norm is still the goal.
  • The school still emphasizes standardization, categorization, extreme individualism, and surveillance. 
  • “Integration,” while touted, does not emphasize coherent, interconnected, multiple perspectives on reality and diverse worldviews. Where there are courses on diversity, they tend to be ABOUT “the Other” (courses ON women. LGBT, American Indians, etc.).
  • Content of textbooks contains token examples of heroes and holidays from non-Eurocentric perspectives.
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) are largely “banking” but occasionally include strategies for meeting students’ multiple intelligences and building on students’ cultural knowledge. 
  • Policy recommends some inclusive cultural and linguistic curricular and teaching practices and outcomes, but these practices are disconnected; again, assimilation is valued. 
  • There are a few staff of color but very few teachers/faculty and administration of color, most of whom are from overseas.
  • There are limited services/activities outside of the classroom for including and empowering under-served students.
  • English language learners are separated from the mainstream in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, or mainstreamed with teachers unprepared to validate multiple language or teach bilingually.
  • Students, unless they are English Language Learners, are encouraged to learn foreign European languages.
  • In elementary school, tracking may be camouflaged by placing students into “families” (categorization).
  • Teachers do not tolerate discrimination but are not prepared to transform the structures that reproduce discrimination.
Acceptance: Salad Bowl Metaphor
  • Overall, differences are acknowledged and deemed valuable; there is less emphasis on modifying language and cultural practices to meet the dominant model. While there is some emphasis on assimilation, the administration and faculty are more likely to expect acculturation to the dominant norm (both/and the dominant and alternative cultural narratives v. either/or the dominant and alternative cultural narratives).
  • Dominant norms, categories, individualism, surveillance, and regulation are still in force, but with some emphasis on alternative norms, categories, communalism, self-empowerment. 
  • “Integration” pays some attention to coherence and the interconnectedness of human ideas, identities and experience. 
  • Teachers do tend to see difference as positive and focus more on diversity: they occasionally introduce and explore somewhat different, less than contentious, perspectives on reality and worldviews. Courses on diversity still tend to be ABOUT “the Other” (courses ON women. LGBT, American Indians, etc.).
  • Teachers may speak another, usually European language; some curriculum may be taught in the students native language (likely Spanish).
  • TBA (Transitional Bilingual Education) may be practiced in some classrooms.
  • Literature from different cultures—literature that has been celebrated in the mainstream—is introduced.
  • The content of textbooks generally contains more content from non-Eurocentric perspectives, and some re-interpretation of traditional, dominant understandings.
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) are still largely banking but occasionally include strategies for meeting students’ multiple intelligences and building on students’ cultural knowledge.
  • There may be less emphasis on tracking but, driven by high stakes testing, students are still placed into categories to ensure success on standardized mainstream assessments.
  • Policy recommends more inclusive cultural and linguistic curricular and teaching practices and outcomes but they are still add-ons; while integration is valued, the dominant culture maintains decision-making.
  • There are several staff of color but still very few administrators of color; the few teachers/faculty of color are disproportionately from overseas.
  • There are several services/activities outside of the classroom for including and empowering under-served students but they have little influence over the campus climate as a whole.
Respect: Pluralism Metaphor
  • Overall, diversity is given high value by members of the community. Differences are respected.
  • There is little emphasis placed on modifying language and cultural practices to meet the dominant model; the administration and faculty do NOT expect assimilation to the dominant norm; they emphasize acculturation.
  • Diverse norms and categories are given value.
  • “Integration” pays attention to coherence and the interconnectedness of human ideas, identities, and experience.
  • The school is not organized by ability groupings; all teachers have high expectations of all students. 
  • The content of textbooks contains multiple, integrated ethnic, social class, and gender perspectives across the curriculum, including Math and Science; The curriculum tends to be theme/project-based; Literature from different cultures, even that which has not been celebrated in the mainstream, is introduced.
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) are culturally relevant and respectful, and try to build on students’ cultural knowledge and multiple intelligences.
  • Teachers see difference as positive and focus on diversity: they introduce and explore somewhat different perspectives on reality and worldviews from the perspectives of underserved groups & non-Eurocentric/non-male/non-upper & middle class perspectives: people of color, women, working and poor people, LGBT, etc.
  • The History curriculum, in particular, is taught from multiple and anti-racist/classist/sexist points of view.
  • Teachers may speak another language—not only European.
  • Two-way Bilingual Education may be practiced in at least some some classrooms.
  • English language learners, and students who are differently abled (all students), are integrated into classrooms led by teachers who have been prepared for this eventuality. 
  • Policy mandates that dynamics of power, lines of communication, and decision-making are more equitable; they promote inclusive, critical multicultural cultural and linguistic curricular and teaching practices and outcomes.
  • Teachers may team teach;
  • Teachers are encouraged to engage in profession developed; to be life-long learners. 
  • There are many staff of color and some high level administrative personnel, and more faculty of color, in close proportion to available U.S. pools (not just from overseas).
  • There are many services/activities outside of the classroom for including and empowering under-served students, and these services/activities have an influence over most of the students on campus.
  • Racist, homophobic and other expression of hate and oppression are unacceptable in all parts of the school, and addressed directly.  
Affirmation, Solidarity & Critique: Tapestry Metaphor
  • Overall, this school climate is driven by the quest for a world defined by social justice, equity and caring, in which the needs of all people are met. 
  • Culture is seen as changing and malleable—not fixed. Social change is seen as inevitable; it is believed that students, parents, and community should have a voice in the goals of social change.
  • In addition to voice, dialogue, community, and critical consciousness are seen as basic elements in equitable school practice.
  • The school considers that the best learning occurs when students work and struggle together in pursuit of this goal. Learning is based on research and critical social action (social constructionism). It is understood that we have to work through conflict— not avoid it—to find resolution.
  • Democracy is seen as a practical process that takes place in public spaces, in which all participants have a voice through genuine, communal dialogue. A school congress to which all students have access makes educational decisions.
  • School is not organized by ability groupings: tracking and “special education” are eliminated.
  • All teachers have high expectations of all students.
  • Diversity is given affirmed and highly valued; differences, when they do not oppress, are respected; building community is considered the basis for educational practice; students are expected to develop the capacity to critique the dynamics that govern the society and world in which they live, as well as their own cultural norms and values.
  • “Integration” pays attention to coherence and the interconnectedness of human ideas, identities and experience.
  • Teachers introduce, explore, and help students critique multiple perspectives on reality and worldviews that emanate from multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of underserved groups/non-Eurocentric/non-male/non-upper & middle class perspectives: people of color, women, working and poor people, LGBT, etc.
  • Classes and course are flexible and address diverse topics; Teaching structure and student participations structures are adapted to meet the social and academic goals of the school, students, teachers, parents and community; teachers may team teach; courses included the community (forms of service learning). 
  • The content of textbooks contains multiple, integrated ethnic, social class, and gender perspectives across the curriculum, including Math and Science; the curriculum tends to be theme/project-based; Literature from different cultures is introduced.
  • The History curriculum, in particular, is taught critically from multiple and anti-racist/classist/sexist points of view. The entire school is multilingual and values the maintenance of these languages.
  • No emphasis is placed on modifying language and cultural practices to meet the dominant model; students learn about the norms and values of the dominant social structure and culture, and how the culture of power operates; students recognize that acculturation should be a conscious process.
  • Teachers may speak another language—not only European.
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) are culturally relevant and respectful, and try to build on students’ cultural knowledge and multiple intelligences.
  • Two-way Bilingual Education is normalized.
  • English language learners, and students who are differently abled (all students), are integrated into classrooms led by teachers who have been prepared for this eventuality. 
  • Policy mandates inclusive cultural and linguistic curricular and teaching practices and outcomes; dynamics of power, lines of communication, and decision-making are expected to equitable and caring.
  • Teachers are encouraged to engage in profession development; to be life-long learners. 
  • There are teachers of color and some high level administrative personnel, in proportion to available U.S. pools (not just from overseas).
  • The school structure has been modified, and services/activities outside of the classroom established, for including and empowering all students, including those who have been under-served.
  • Racist, homophobic and other expression of hate and oppression are addressed and critiqued by all members of the community, and action encouraged to develop a socially just, equitable, and caring community 
  • The content of textbooks contains multiple, integrated ethnic, class, and gender perspectives across the curriculum, including Math and Science; The curriculum is themes/project-based; Anti-racist/ classist/sexist narratives punctuate the curriculum, which equitable emphasizes non-Eurocentric perspectives. Power are critiqued. The curriculum is meaningful and problem-posing (students learn to read the word to read their world).
  • Teaching strategies (pedagogy) are culturally relevant, and try to build on students’ cultural knowledge and multiple intelligences. The facilitate students’ capacity to learn to critique self and society in terms of social justice, equity, and caring. Social activism (service learning) is encouraged.
  • Policy mandates are geared toward equitable social, cultural, and economic change: inclusive cultural and linguistic curricular and teaching practices and outcomes are emphasized; dynamics of power, lines of communication, and decision-making are transformed to meet the needs of all students, faculty, staff and administration members.
  • Students, staff, faculty, and administration of color, poverty, and gender are present in proportion to their numbers in the relevant U.S. demographic pools (not just from overseas).
  • There are integrated, relevant services/activities outside of the classroom for including and empowering under-served students, and building communication and understanding amongst all, including students, staff, faculty, and administration.

Level of Multicultural Practice at the Lac du Flambeau Public School

Monoculturalism

90% of the teachers at the Lac du Flambeau public school are white. There is a higher percentage of white teachers at the off-reservation high school.

Most teachers bring monocultural and Eurocentric ways of knowing curriculum and pedagogy to their students in their classrooms, resulting in a cultural mismatch with Ojibwe students.

Tolerance

There are a few staff of color who tend to facilitate the Cultural Connections program.

Acceptance

All of the teachers in the LDF public school are introduced to Ojibwe culture. A small minority of teachers are trying to teach in a culturally responsive and critical way

Respect

Talking circles for different grades to discuss how they feel. The LDH public school hosts Pow Wows. Every Monday there are sing songs.

Affirmation, Solidarity & Critique

This level reflects systemic change and has not yet been met by the school.

Practices that Place the Lac du Flambeau School Quite High on Nieto’s Scale


While we were introduced to two classes taught by white male teachers that try to address the facts surrounding the abuse of the sovereignty and treaty rights of Native people in Wisconsin, these classes are taught through dominant cultural pedagogy.

Brian Jackson, an Ojibwe leader, has introduced the Cultural Connections course to the LdF public school. Through “teaching in a circle”, students share and listen to stories that revitalize Ojibwe culture.

Wayne Valliere teaches the Ojibwe language to LDF students.
Ojibwe community leaders (HCAT) have committed resources to address the consequences of historical trauma in the community, and the impact of culturally hegemonic dominant culture on Ojibwe students

Practices that Place the Lac du Flambeau School Low on Nieto’s Scale


Legal and policy power structures have limited the authority of Ojibwe leaders to define their school curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

Much of the pedagogy and curriculum fails to meet culturally responsive standards.

Racism still defines the inequitable ways in which Indigenous and settlers are treated in terms of their hunting, fishing and gathering rights. Misunderstandings still abound in relations to Native fishing practice.

Ojibwe community leaders (HCAT) struggle with the consequences of historical trauma in the community, and the impact of culturally hegemonic dominant culture on Ojibwe students.

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