Teachers of Native American Learners
Master in Teaching Program 1998-2000

When it chartered The Evergreen State  College, the Washington Legislature directed the college's founders to offer an alternative to "traditional education."  The alternative nature of the college is reflected in an absence of academic departments, the on-going creation of cross curricular programs, the use of narrative evaluations instead of letter grades, a reliance on primary materials rather than textbooks, frequent writing assignments, student dialogue and service learning.

The MIT "Teachers of Native American Learners" Program curriculum fully reflects this alternative educational model.  The curriculum is organized around themes or questions.  An interdisciplinary faculty team and approximately 50 full-time students form a community of learners that explores these themes.  In seminars, a central component of this coordinated studies model, a faculty member and approximately 15 MIT students will meet to discuss readings and field experiences.

Becoming an Empowering Teacher

Graduate students investigate the potential schools have for providing an empowering learning atmosphere in which education can be transformed beyond cultural and political stereotypes.  MIT faculty and students explore such questions as:

How can teachers incorporate research on multiple intelligence into classroom instruction to benefit all learners?

How can teachers plan instruction that is informed by culturally based learning strengths rather than perceived weaknesses?

How can teachers who have been socialized to accept the values of the dominant culture learn to educate children and youth without denying or rejecting their cultural heritage?

How can can teachers apply current knowledge about language acquisition to benefit learners in multilingual settings?

How can teachers in their K-12 schools support Indian tribes involved with language restoration efforts?

What role might Paulo Freire's liberatory learning philosophy play in enhancing both state and national educational reforms and Native American education?

What will it mean in general to be an educated U.S. citizen in the 21st century?  What will it mean specifically to be an educated Native American in the 21st century?

Propose ways for instructional technology to enhance the historical, political, cultural, and spiritual aspects of tribal sovereignty.