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Slide #51 : Radical Vision - School as a Collective Now, to be extremely radical for a moment, consider school as a collective where teachers act like family counselors and the extended family structures and supports learning. Teachers respond to the learning needs of the family members, on call as needs exist. Learning takes place within the realm of the family, either in the home or on-the-land.

Elementary level students are provided with resources to support home learning of subjects like reading, writing, arithmetic, history of the community, the family and the links to the worldview. All learning connected back to daily life and experiences in the life of the family, not separated by the walls of an institution. All members of the family involved in the learning experience either as learners or as teachers.

Secondary level learners are supported by resources to help adults learn as needed in the community with options and resources for those who wish to go beyond the north and into the rest of Canada for employment or education.

By giving the task of teaching and learning back to the family, the option of dropping out disappears. Focusing on the community and recognizing work done with appropriate rewards may be the key to successful schooling. This is an utopian vision of an educational system and is reminiscent of traditional learning situations.

One would argue that it is impossible to set up such a collective; there are so many issues to consider. Even so, it is food for thought.

Slide #52 Overall reflection

My M.Ed. program has lead me to believe that my thoughts on dropout had progressed on a sort of spectrum. When I first started this course, I was just getting past the venting stage of problem solving. I was complaining about dropout and I really did not know where to start looking for solutions. I was in the dark about many things and questions arose: Who are the Inuit? Why are there so many who choose to dropout of school? Can anything be done?

Using the imagery by Rupert Ross (1992) in Dancing with a Ghost: Exploring the Indian Reality, I felt that I was in a: . . .very large, circular room sitting in complete darkness. That room had hundreds of doors. Opening one door let some light in, but not enough to penetrate more than a few feet without being swallowed up. Opening a second door shed light on its pathway but spilled some over to the first as well. Each time I returned to that room and opened another door, I was better able to see what lay inside. And so the process continued. As I learned new things, more light fell on things IĠd only partially, or even mistakenly, glimpsed before. (p.xxvi)

Each Masters of Education course that I took was like opening a door and shedding light on the Inuit dropout issue. Slowly, I was able to see the phenomena of Inuit dropout from many sides and from many perspectives. Instead of just grumbling about the problem and condemning the Inuit people for their lack of support for education, I learned to look deep inside the problem to find ways that might give Inuit the chance to succeed.

There is not just one solution to the dropout problem in the north. The new government of Nunavut needs to consider their vision of education and be sure that their schools will be representative of the cultural, spiritual, intellectual, physical and mental needs of their people.

 

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