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Culture as a vehicle, not a bridge: Community-based education in autonomous Nicaragua and the Navajo Nation

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Abstract:

Many nations have negotiated intranational cultural differences by offering autonomy or semi-autonomy to national minorities, indigenous tribes, and other marginalized peoples. In America the largest Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, has been recognized as autonomous since 1923. In Nicaragua, the Atlantic coast communities were granted autonomy as the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte (RAAN) and Sur (RAAS) in 1987.

Locally-controlled education by marginalized peoples has been touted by proponents as legitimizing cultures, advancing self-determination, and revitalizing endangered languages. In both the Navajo nation (for the “Diné” people) and Nicaraguan Atlantic coast (for the “Costeño” people), various degrees of autonomy are currently being enacted. While still accountable to national education standards and regulation, schools can educate in indigenous/minority languages and write their own, culturally-relevant curriculum. The success of these schools, though, depends on more than a simple translation of national curriculum into “mother tongues.” The Diné and the Costeños face their own unique challenges: many Costeño children are not only bilingual, but plurilingual, code-switching depending on context. Meanwhile, the Diné have a vested interest in maintaining their language through education as it faces virtual extinction.

This paper reviews the history of autonomous education in the two areas, with a focus on bilingual/plurilingual program development, and analyzes current trends. By exploring recent literature and case studies from both areas, common characteristics of successful programs in both regions emerge. The programs most successful at empowering and liberating minority cultures while pursuing academic achievement take into account the social-historical context of the languages their children speak, address cultural differences and values beyond language, and garner investment and involvement from the community at large.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492971_index.html
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MLA Citation:

White, Kerry. "Culture as a vehicle, not a bridge: Community-based education in autonomous Nicaragua and the Navajo Nation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492971_index.html>

APA Citation:

White, K. , 2011-05-01 "Culture as a vehicle, not a bridge: Community-based education in autonomous Nicaragua and the Navajo Nation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492971_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Many nations have negotiated intranational cultural differences by offering autonomy or semi-autonomy to national minorities, indigenous tribes, and other marginalized peoples. In America the largest Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, has been recognized as autonomous since 1923. In Nicaragua, the Atlantic coast communities were granted autonomy as the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte (RAAN) and Sur (RAAS) in 1987.

Locally-controlled education by marginalized peoples has been touted by proponents as legitimizing cultures, advancing self-determination, and revitalizing endangered languages. In both the Navajo nation (for the “Diné” people) and Nicaraguan Atlantic coast (for the “Costeño” people), various degrees of autonomy are currently being enacted. While still accountable to national education standards and regulation, schools can educate in indigenous/minority languages and write their own, culturally-relevant curriculum. The success of these schools, though, depends on more than a simple translation of national curriculum into “mother tongues.” The Diné and the Costeños face their own unique challenges: many Costeño children are not only bilingual, but plurilingual, code-switching depending on context. Meanwhile, the Diné have a vested interest in maintaining their language through education as it faces virtual extinction.

This paper reviews the history of autonomous education in the two areas, with a focus on bilingual/plurilingual program development, and analyzes current trends. By exploring recent literature and case studies from both areas, common characteristics of successful programs in both regions emerge. The programs most successful at empowering and liberating minority cultures while pursuing academic achievement take into account the social-historical context of the languages their children speak, address cultural differences and values beyond language, and garner investment and involvement from the community at large.


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Collaborative Community Participation, Shared Commitment, and Sustainability of Culturally Tailored Community-Based Mental Health Education

Bridging Cultures Through Technology: When Learners Become Ethnographers in Network-Based Discourse Communities

Indigenous language, culture and education: ‘language nests’ and community schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand and a community-based Tibetan-medium village summer school.


 
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