Native student traditional tribal values and secondary school retention
Turner, James Wesley
Master of Education
SubjectIndians of North America Education (Secondary)
High school dropouts
Indians of North America Education (Secondary) Ontario
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This qualitative study examined the relationship between Native student traditional tribal values and beliefs and the secondary school retention of seven Amerindian secondary school graduates. It is a departure from previous studies on retention in that it has taken a positive rather than a deficit or cultural discontinuity perspective to the problem. Several key constructs emerged as essential to understanding the successful retention of these Amerindian secondary school students: family life, strategies for coping, life experiences, academic experiences, relevancy in programming, traditional tribal values and beliefs, and Aboriginal epistemology. Respondents’ previous family and life experiences contributed to the development of strong positive identities which empowered them to harmonize and balance two cultures. Respondents had developed positive relations with at least one teacher. These positive relations compensated for other experiences where content was emphasized. A positive rapport between teacher and student and holistic or learner-centred teaching methods appear to have contributed to the success of some of these Amerindian students. Epistemology was an intricate part of the fabric of the Native learning experience for three of the respondents (ie, dreams, lifepath, nature). The findings suggest that key stakeholders such as the family, Native agencies and organizations, the community, and educational systems have responsibilities in promoting the successful retention of Amerindian secondary school students. Further ethnographic and phenomenological studies are recommended to explore and describe those factors and processes which contribute to the successful retention of the Amerindian student.