October 2, 2007

The Dialogical Relationship Between Learning and Teaching

Last weekend I took the initiative in indigenous ressurgency and cultural revitalization the best way I could.

I started a language class with my family.

I started the idea after I realized the need for my niece to not have to learn the language. That she will just have the language. The language will be...her. This has propelled me to learn the language more vigorously and focused. Reading texts every night, composing sentences, listening to the scarcity of speakers we have left. I'm intending to spend more time in the winter seasons helping out where I can with knowledgeable ones, but like most truly indigenous initiatives, it takes time and patience.

After reflecting on the class, I'm starting to think how I want to develop this project as a whole. It came from what I see as area's of improvement and area's of success of language revitalization. Wikipeida has a great article one language revitalization. Unfortunately to say, a lot can be said about improvement. Now this isn't a point fingers, blame name game. When it comes to something this crucial to our survival, it's a responsibility that befalls every citizen of this nation. Not just the knowledge bearers, but also those who still want our people to be "Sḵwxwú7mesh".

Area's I seen that can improved:
  • more resources devoted to language revival
  • more resources on the language published and present for citizens
  • strengthen trust and commitment in youth participation
  • real measurable achievements of language revival
  • more language classes
  • language classes for different types of learning
  • more then just "classes" and "lessons" on the language. Examples could be actual outings onto the land to see the places the place-names correlate to. Or find the medicine plants we have names for.
  • More ceremonies and cultural events with the use of language
  • Magazines, newspapers, zines, and websites used as tools to raise basic awareness of the issue and of knowledge transfer. Using zines to write about words.
  • Multiple volumes of CD's
    • CD full of people talking in Sḵwxwú7mesh. (To help raise level of awareness on sounds of the language. So the language doesn't "sound" alien to new learners
    • CD going through the basic alphabet of language.
    • CD with children's songs, lullabies, and one story, all in Sḵwxwú7mesh
The language classes in the high school taught me very little about the language, or learning the language itself. We would spend weeks learning a very important part of sentence structure, go on a two week spring break, and forget everything. This all stemmed from: most of the students in these classes rarely spend adequate am mounts of time together for language use, and all students rarely, if never, used the knowledge in real life. Poor instructing and lack of dynamic teaching is also a downfall.

Starting with basic phrases, sentences, salutations, and such can be helpful in just speaking the langauge. Then moving onto titles like mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather. Having these words in Sḵwxwú7mesh being only used, and not the English equivalent.

The correlation between language instruction and language learning is something that intrigued me. I learned that from instruction, I became better at learning. Things began to stick in my head more as I as saying it with confidence and understanding.

My next step it to destroy the traditional concepts of teaching. That through dialogical communion, between the teacher (myself) and the learning (the other). That together we switch roles constantly, and the teacher-learning becomes the leaner-teacher. Eventually these roles/titles will be irrelevant and it's just all knowledge sharing in the circle. That although I have some more expertise in one are of the language, other learning knowledge is not unimportant, but added to the makeup of the group in general. There background, what ever it may be, also becomes apart of the 'instruction' and we all learn from that.

What I work towards now is more practices in language. Creation of more dynamic ways of teaching. Idea's are through music (particularly singing), dialogue (so conversation but in the language), acting/theater, film,
writing, reading, and physical motion. The pedagogy behind this is that people have different learning styles. Maybe it's based off the Theory of multiple intelligences, or maybe intergral theory's AQAL. Either way, all ways of language revitalization must be looked at and brought forward.

It's a crisis situation.
15 fluent speakers left.
No children learning language.
Once it's gone, it's all over.

If you like to be involved, contact me.


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