Teachers’ beliefs about teaching urban indigenous students ...files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/  · 1 Teachers’ beliefs about teaching urban indigenous students in Taiwan Abstract The purpose of this interpretive study is to situate teachers’ understanding and

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<ul><li><p>1</p><p>Teachers beliefs about teaching urban indigenous students in </p><p>Taiwan </p><p>Abstract </p><p>The purpose of this interpretive study is to situate teachers understanding and interpretation </p><p>of their experiences with indigenous students in city schools. This qualitative study examines six </p><p>teachers perspectives of indigenous students and reveals factors that potentially impede or </p><p>promote the success of indigenous students in Taiwanese urban schools. </p><p>From the cross-case discussion, we learn that there is a need in the educational field for a </p><p>reshaped perspective of indigenous students, along with changes in curriculum, instructional </p><p>methods, and practices and policies. Hopefully, then, schooling experiences like those of </p><p>indigenous teachers will be historical memories, not everyday occurrences, and their children </p><p>will have more successful stories to tell about their school experiences. </p><p>Keywords: Indigenous education, teacher education, urban education </p></li><li><p>2</p><p>Background </p><p>There is substantial literature that examines the education of indigenous people in </p><p>Taiwan. Few, however, have attempted to explore and explain exactly how indigenous people, </p><p>who live off the tribes, get through the Han-dominated education system in the city. Not </p><p>surprisingly, indigenous youth enter school in urban cities were facing various barrier according </p><p>to a limited amount of studies. To those indigenous people who immigrate to city, quality of </p><p>education is not often an option. However, some realize that education can be an opportunity for </p><p>them to succeed, and make any possible sacrifice to ensure their children learn something in the </p><p>school. </p><p>Research suggests that teachers perspectives on students significantly shape their </p><p>expectations about student learning, their treatment of students, and what the students ultimately </p><p>learn (Irvin, 1990; Pajares, 1993; Pang &amp; Sablan, 1998; Villegas &amp; Lucas, 2002). Teachers with </p><p>an affirming perspective are more apt to believe that students from nondominant groups are </p><p>capable learners, even when those children enter school with ways of thinking, talking, and </p><p>behaving that deviate from the dominant cultures norms (Delpit, 1995). On the other hand, </p><p>teachers with limiting perspectives are more apt to make negative forecasts about such students </p><p>potential. Dubious about those students ability to achieve, teachers are more likely to hold low </p><p>academic expectations for them and ultimately to treat them in ways likely to stifle their learning </p><p>(Nieto, 2000; Payne, 1994). </p><p>In order to respond to concerns about the academic experience of urban indigenous </p><p>students, we conducted an interpretive study focusing on six teachers perspectives of teaching </p><p>indigenous students. Regarding teachers perspectives, we used Clark &amp; Petersons (1986) </p><p>definition of perspective as a reflective, socially defined interpretation of experience that serves </p><p>as a basis for subsequent action a combination of beliefs, intentions, interpretations, and </p></li><li><p>3</p><p>behavior that interact continually(p. 287). Since the goal of this research is to understand </p><p>indigenous students education from a teachers point of view, much can be learned by </p><p>interviewing them, and interpreting their classroom experiences with indigenous students. </p><p>Who are urban Aborigines? </p><p>Current census figures for Taiwan indicate a high rural-to-urban migration of Aborigines </p><p>(Department of Statistics, MOI, 1997). Demographers estimated that by the year 2002 these new </p><p>settlers have increased to become as much as 60 per cent of the total Indigenous population (See </p><p>Figure 1). In recent years, the urbanization of the Indigenous people has accelerated because </p><p>there is limited employment opportunities in the mostly rural Indigenous areas (Li &amp; Ou, 1992). </p><p>Displaced Aborigines, while drifting away from their original way of life and finding themselves </p><p>in an unfamiliar metropolis, encounter numerous adjustment problems. Their problems extend </p><p>into critical aspects of their existence: employment, education, marriage, family life, group </p><p>relations, and a variety of other psychological difficulties (Cho, 2002; Fu, 1999, 2001; Li, 1982; </p><p>Mai, 2000; Wang, 1998; Wuei &amp; Jang, 2000). Although researchers have conducted numerous </p><p>studies to examine Indigenous education in general, there has been relatively little research </p><p>focusing on the schooling experiences of Indigenous students who live in the city. </p><p>Figure 1. Percentage of urban Indigenous population</p><p>0.00%</p><p>20.00%</p><p>40.00%</p><p>60.00%</p><p>80.00%</p><p>1962 1974 1995 2002</p><p>Year</p></li><li><p>4</p><p>Resource: Chen, Whang, &amp; Chiu (2003). Urban Indigenous Life </p><p>Counseling Plan. Council of Indigenous People, Executive Yuan. </p><p>Taipei. </p><p>Based on their six-year urban Indigenous life survey, Chen, Whang, &amp; Chiu (2003) </p><p>concluded that few Aborigines were able to climb the socioeconomic ladder and participate in </p><p>urban life. Other families struggled to stay employed and make ends meet. Some families </p><p>maintained close cultural, linguistic, and family ties with their home tribes, often over great </p><p>distances; others did not keep those ties for a variety of reasons, including marriage outside the </p><p>tribe, attending school in different places, reaching higher levels of education, and so on. </p><p>At first glance, a move to the city might appear to be a wonderful opportunity for </p><p>advancement. And it can be, but there is also a downside to be considered. When families are </p><p>transplanted from a familiar home setting to a strange and hostile environment, they experience </p><p>culture shock (Chen, Whang, &amp; Chiu, 2003). Teachers who work with Indigenous students in an </p><p>urban setting need to realize how such a move impacts students and their families and how </p><p>students behavior and school performance can be affected. </p><p>For the most part, the Indigenous population has a lower socioeconomic and educational </p><p>status than other ethnic groups and is afflicted with high rates of unemployment, alcoholism, </p><p>adolescent prostitution, and various other social challenges. Taiwanese Aborigines have for some </p><p>time received special education, job training, and other benefits through provisions in the </p><p>national Constitution. In recent years, social welfare and other such programs have proliferated. </p><p>Still, the Aborigines remain largely outside the mainstream of society. Few Aborigines are able </p><p>to climb the socioeconomic ladder and participate in urban life. </p></li><li><p>5</p><p>School experience of urban Indigenous student </p><p>Shieh (1994) was one of the first scholars outside of the Indigenous communities to </p><p>report on the conditions of Taiwan Aborigines who had moved to cities. The hardships </p><p>encountered when living in the city, coupled with the lack of promised opportunities and related </p><p>economic benefits, created situations where despair became the norm. Teachers have been </p><p>unprepared to work with Indigenous students, and many teachers misinterpreted childrens </p><p>cultural codes for reticence, lack of interest, or lack of the natural abilities needed to become </p><p>normal students. Indigenous children were cast as the stereotypes that had long been </p><p>promulgated to the Taiwan public and were still considered accurate. </p><p>Chen (1998) argued that most of the non-Indigenous teachers, especially those most </p><p>experienced, hold stereotypes of Indigenous students as being lazy, having low intelligence, and </p><p>having parents who are relatively uninvolved in their childrens education. Younger teachers </p><p>have not had much opportunity to understand Aborigines but tend to sympathize with the </p><p>Indigenous students (Tang, 1998). The Indigenous children are perceived as lacking the required </p><p>mental ability for success in school and as little interested in schooling. In addition, poor self-</p><p>concept of the Indigenous students is also attributed to be one of the causal factors of the </p><p>problem. Tang (1997) argued that there is much evidence that Indigenous students feel despair, </p><p>disillusionment, alienation, frustration, hopelessness, powerlessness, rejection, and estrangement, </p><p>all elements of negative views of the self (p. 38). </p><p>Some non-Indigenous teachers, especially those who are new to their work, feel very </p><p>uncomfortable with some of the Indigenous ways of life. Most teachers lack the knowledge, </p><p>skills, and experience for the high degree of professionalism necessary to work successfully with </p><p>Indigenous children (Chen, 1998). Though teachers generally feel confident in their ability to </p></li><li><p>6</p><p>implement core teaching skills, many express reservations about their ability to teach students </p><p>from cultures different than their own. </p><p>To understand urban Indigenous students more fully, it is important for teachers to gain a </p><p>broader perspective on the differences between rural living and urban life for these students and </p><p>their families. For the most part the rural context provides a setting in which the traditional </p><p>culture of the tribe and the kinship system are respected and enhanced. </p><p>Research question </p><p>The main research questions for this study are: </p><p>1. What are the relevant prior experiences (personal and sociocultural experiences, K-</p><p>12 schooling, educational theory and teacher preparation, etc.) of teachers of </p><p>Indigenous students in city schools? </p><p>2. What important issues do the teachers believe should be addressed to improve the </p><p>education of Indigenous students? </p><p>3. What are teachers perspectives of Indigenous students? </p><p>4. What are the teachers educational philosophies about students, teaching, and </p><p>learning? </p><p>The above questions aim to explore how teachers develop their understanding and </p><p>interpretation of teaching urban Indigenous students. Because teachers perspectives are complex </p><p>and multifaceted, we developed open-ended and probing interview questions that were used to </p><p>further uncover the specific views that, in turn, enabled me to respond to my guiding research </p><p>questions. </p><p>Significance of the Study </p><p>In this study we provided a picture of teachers perspectives of and experiences with </p><p>Indigenous students in urban schools. Although some teachers did not explicitly state their </p></li><li><p>7</p><p>feelings, their beliefs and attitudes toward students were always discernable in their interactions </p><p>with students (Banks, 1987). A study such as this has the potential to impact the understanding of </p><p>cultural diversity in teacher preparation and practice (Webb, 2001). </p><p>If teachers want children to accept and understand cultural diversity, they need to broaden </p><p>their own outlook. It is crucial for educators to recognize how the dominant school culture is </p><p>implicit in hegemonic practices that often silence subordinate groups of students, as well as </p><p>constrain and disempower those who teach them. Such insights can also enhance the ability of </p><p>teachers to work with students from dominant and subordinate classes so that they come to </p><p>recognize how and why the dominant culture dictates their compliance and renders them </p><p>powerless (McLaren, 1988). </p><p>The study of teachers perspectives is critical to understanding teachers attitudes and has </p><p>powerful implications for teacher efficacy and student achievement (McAllister &amp; Irvin, 2002; </p><p>Pajares, 1992); it is only when teachers accept and embrace student diversity that they will be </p><p>able to teach all children. Researchers have suggested that in order for teachers to interact </p><p>effectively with their students they must confront their own racism and biases (Banks, 1991; </p><p>Gillette &amp; Boyle-Baise, 1998; Nieto &amp; Rolon, 1997), and learn about their students cultures. In </p><p>exploring teachers perspectives about how Indigenous students learn and how those </p><p>preconceptions influence their practices, we can enhance our understanding of the education of </p><p>Indigenous students. Moreover, understanding what propels teachers beliefs may be the key to </p><p>changing the social consequences of undesirable classroom activities. </p><p>Theoretical framework: Five approaches to multicultural education </p><p>In addition to critical theory, the research of Sleeter and Grant (1987) is important to this </p><p>analysis. They conducted research and analysis of multicultural education practices in the United </p><p>States and identified five approaches to multicultural education. Those approaches provide a </p></li><li><p>8</p><p>useful framework for this study, examining the six teachers perspectives about teaching </p><p>Indigenous students: </p><p>1. Teaching the Culturally Different: This approach recognizes cultural differences among </p><p>diverse groups. Teachers help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that </p><p>allow them to participate in the public culture of the dominant group. Difference is viewed </p><p>as problematic, while discrimination and inequity by the dominant culture is ignored and, as </p><p>well structural and institutional practices of oppression are ignored. Teachers consider the </p><p>low academic achievement of minority students as individual challenge rather than </p><p>institutional challenge. They view the goal of teaching as providing bridges by which </p><p>minority students may assimilate into the cultural mainstream and into the existing social </p><p>structure. </p><p>2. Human Relations: This approach focuses on cooperation and communication between </p><p>people of different backgrounds. This conception is aimed mainly at the affective levelat </p><p>the attitudes and feelings people have about themselves and others. Teachers attempt to </p><p>foster good relationships among students of diverse heritage in order to replace tension and </p><p>hostility with acceptance and care. The major objective of this approach is to help students </p><p>of different backgrounds get along, communicate better with each other, and feel good </p><p>about who they are. Teachers would seek to promote positive feelings, unity, tolerance for </p><p>each other, assimilation, and acceptance of existing structures and practices. This approach </p><p>gives no attention to social stratification or to political or economic constructions. </p><p>3. Single Group Studies: This approaches focuses on the experiences and cultures of specific </p><p>groups within society. Ethnic groups, as opposed to race, class, and gender groups, are </p><p>investigated with an aim to develop acceptance, appreciation, and empathy for cultural </p></li><li><p>9</p><p>differences and linguistic diversity. Curriculum receives the most attention; none is given to </p><p>social stratification or institutional limitations. Teachers neither consider social change nor </p><p>analyze the social-economic position of minority groups. Teachers advocate adds-on </p><p>curricula. </p><p>4. Multicultural Education: This approach promotes cultural pluralism and social equality by </p><p>appreciating, protecting, and enhancing diverse cultures. Teachers seek to (a) promote the </p><p>strength and value of cultural diversity; (b) develop a sense for human rights and respect for </p><p>cultural diversity; (c) change discrimination in society; (d) develop acceptance for social </p><p>justice and equal opportunity for all people; and (e) develop a sense for equity distribution </p><p>of power among all individuals and groups. </p><p>5. Social Reconstructionist: This approach goes a step further by requiring multicultural </p><p>educa...</p></li></ul>


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