The Ecology of Learning: Re-Inventing Schools

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Finances Budget planning using real data and creative initiatives makes the shift to fresher, more nutritious food financially viable. Waste Management The school food program reduces waste and helps students understand the need to conserve natural resources.

Suzanne P. Starseed (Author of The Ecology of Learning)

Professional Development Nutrition services staff and teachers receive the training they need to realize the Rethinking School Lunch vision. Marketing and Communications Districts take the necessary steps to promote healthy meal programs and meaningful learning environments. More Like This. Scaled and tested recipes for reimbursable school meals featuring fresh ingredients. Read more. How to Promote School Lunch Improvements. Share with your World. Ecoliteracy in your Inbox! We never sell or share your private information. Sign up No thanks.

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Nobody instructed or demanded her to help with the family business, but she learned the community's expectations and way of living. In Indigenous American communities, the inclusion of children in communal activities motivates them to engage with their social world, helping them to develop a sense of belonging. Education in Indigenous communities is primarily based on joint engagement in which children are motivated to "pitch-in" in collective activities through developing solidarity within family, resulting in reciprocal bonds. Their contributions emphasized collaboration and mutual responsibility within the community.

The children were less likely to view activities that Westernized culture regarded as "chores" to be a type of work. These children felt that activities such as taking care of siblings, cooking, and assisting in cleaning were activities that help the family. They further reported that they want to pitch in to the work because helping and contributing allows them to be more integrated in ongoing family and community activities.

Learning through collaborative work is often correlated with children learning responsibility. Many children in Indigenous Yucatec families often attempt and are expected to help around their homes with household endeavors. It is common to see children offer their help off of the their own accord, such as Mari, an 18 month old child from an indigenous family watched her mother clean the furniture with a designated cleaning leaf.


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Mari then took it upon herself to pick a leaf from a nearby bush and attempted to scrub the furniture as well. Parents often offer guidance and support in Indigenous American cultures when the child needs it—as they believe this encourages children to be self-motivated and responsible.

Indigenous education

Children from indigenous communities of the Americas are likely to pitch in and collaborate freely without being asked or instructed to do so. For example, P'urepecha children whose mothers followed more traditional indigenous ways of living demonstrated significantly more independent collaboration when playing Chinese checkers than middle-class children whose mothers had less involvement in indigenous practices of the Americas.

Therefore, being in an environment where collaboration is emphasized, serves as an example for children in Indigenous American communities to pitch in out of their own self-motivation and eagerness to contribute. In many indigenous communities of the Americas, children rely on assessment to master a task. Assessment can include the evaluation of oneself, as well as evaluation from external influences, like parents, family members, or community members.

Assessment involves feedback given to learners from their support; this can be through acceptance, appreciation or correction. The purpose of assessment is to assist the learner as they actively participate in their activity. While contributing in the activity, children are constantly evaluating their learning progress based on the feedback of their support. With this feedback, children modify their behavior in mastering their task. In the Mexican Indigenous heritage community of Nocutzepo, there is available feedback to a learner by observing the results of their contribution and by observing if their support accepted or corrected them.

For example, a 5-year-old girl shapes and cooks tortillas with her mother, when the girl would make irregular tortilla shapes her mother would focus her daughter's attention to an aspect of her own shaping. By doing this, the young girl would imitate her mother's movements and improve her own skills. Feedback given by the mother helped the young girl evaluate her own work and correct it. In traditional Chippewa culture, assessment and feedback are offered in variety of ways. Generally, Chippewa children are not given much praise for their contributions.

On occasion, the parents offer assessment through rewards given to the child. These rewards are given as feedback for work well done, and come in the form of a toy carved out of wood, a doll of grass, or maple sugar. When children do not meet expectations, and fail in their contributions, Chippewa parents make sure not to use ridicule as a means of assessment. The Chippewa also recognize the harmful effects of excessive scolding to a child's learning process.

Chippewa parents believes that scolding a child too much would "make them worse", and holds back the child's ability to learn. For the Chillihuani community in Peru , parents bring up children in a manner that allows them to grow maturely with values like responsibility and respect. These values ultimately influence how children learn in this community.

Parents from the Chillihuani community offer assessment of their children through praise, even if the child's contribution is not perfect. Additionally, feedback can come in the form of responsibility given for a difficult task, with less supervision.


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This responsibility is an important aspect of the learning process for children in Chillihuani because it allows them advance their skills. At only five years old, children are expected to herd sheep , alpaca and llamas with the assistance of an older sibling or adult relative. By age 8, children take on the responsibility of herding alone even in unfavorable weather conditions. Children are evaluated in terms of their ability to handle difficult tasks and then complemented on a job well done by their parents. This supports the learning development of the child's skills, and encourages their continued contributions.

As mentioned above, there has been a modern-day global shift towards recognizing the importance of indigenous education. One reason for this current awareness is the rapid spread of Western educational models throughout the world. Starting in the 19th century when Native Americans were forced into U.

Throughout history, Indigenous people have experienced, and continue many negative interactions Western society for example, the Canadian Residential School System , which has led to the oppression and marginalization of Indigenous people. In essence, the film examines the definitions of wealth and poverty, in other words, knowledge and ignorance. Furthermore, it reveals the effects of trying to institute a global education system or central learning authority, which can ultimately demolish "traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of ancient spiritual traditions.

No two human beings are alike because they develop under different circumstances, learning, and education. The director and editor of the film Carol Black writes, "One of the most profound changes that occurs when modern schooling is introduced into traditional societies around the world is a radical shift in the locus of power and control over learning from children, families, and communities to ever more centralized systems of authority.

Adults have little control over children's "moment-to-moment movements and choices. Black concludes with a comment, "We assume that this central authority, because it is associated with something that seems like an unequivocal good — 'education' — must itself be fundamentally good, a sort of benevolent dictatorship of the intellect. The education system in the Americas reinforces western cultures, prior knowledge and learning experiences which leads to the marginalization and oppression of various other cultures.

Often, Indigenous students resist learning because they do not want to be oppressed or labeled as 'incapable of learning' due to neo-colonial knowledge and teaching. Decentralization requires a shift in education that steps away from Western practices. The following are pedagogical approaches aimed at empowering indigenous students and indigenous communities through education that does not rely on western culture. Culturally Relevant pedagogy involves curriculum tailored to the cultural needs of students and participants involved.

Culture is at the core of CRP and teachers and educators aim for all students to achieve academic success, develop cultural competence, and develop critical consciousness to challenge the current social structures of inequality that affect indigenous communities in particular.

Critical Indigenous Pedagogy focuses on resisting colonization and oppression through education practices that privilege indigenous knowledge and promote indigenous sovereignty. Beyond schooling and instruction, CIP is rooted in thinking critically about social injustices and challenging those through education systems that empower youth and teachers to create social change. Under critical indigenous pedagogy, schools are considered sacred landscapes since they offer a sacred place for growth and engagement.

Land as pedagogy recognizes colonization as dispossession and thus aims to achieve decolonization through education practices that connect Indigenous people to their native land and the social relations that arise from those lands. Land-based pedagogy has no specific curriculum because education and knowledge come from what the land gives.

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Unlike western practices with a standard curriculum, land-based pedagogy is based on the idea of abstaining from imposing an agenda to another living being. Community-based education is central to the revival of indigenous cultures and diverse languages. This form of pedagogy allows community members to participate and influence the learning environment in local schools. The main effects of instilling community-based pedagogy in schools are as follows: [40]. The school environment under a community-based education system requires communication and collaboration between the school and the community.

The community must share leadership within the schools and must be involved in decision-making, planning, and implementation. For indigenous learners and instructors, the inclusion of these methods into schools often enhances educational effectiveness by providing an education that adheres to an indigenous person's own inherent perspectives, experiences, language, and customs, thereby making it easier for children to transition into the realm of adulthood. Ask for new features Use your own colors and insignia.

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