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Edited by Jean Barman, Yvonne Hebert, and Don McCaskill.

Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, 1987. 256pp, paper, $15.95. ISBN 0-7748-0265-0. (Nadoka Institute Occasional Paper #3). CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Robert Nicholas Berard

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

This volume is the companion to the 1986 collection of essays, Indian Education in Canada: The Legacy* which reviewed the history of various approaches to the education of native peoples. Here the editors have gathered contributions about current efforts to provide native education under the control of native peoples themselves.

All the essays reflect their authors' commitment to the policy of native control. The editors' overview proclaims the failure of assimilationist strategies and idealizes the role of parents and the community in socializing native children and affirming them in their culture. Problems in realizing this ideal, notably the continuing dependence of native schools on external funding, are recognized, but it is implied that acceptance by the wider society of the value of the Indian way of life would constitute a major step toward their solutions.

This bias is sometimes carefully controlled, as in Richard King's provocative study of "role shock" in the move to community control of education. King's case study examines the failure of competent people to function competently in systems or roles that were unfamiliar, and the difficulty to implement idealized patterns of educational management. Furthermore, King notes that proponents of native control often underestimate the diversity of opinion within native communities on educational questions and the factionalism that both plagues and enriches all small communities. On the other hand, Dianne Longboat allows her hostility to the work of Christian missionaries in the past and her commitment to native control to distort her thinking, as when she suggests that only schools under Indian control could teach the "'truth" about native history.

Most of the remaining essays examine a variety of efforts to develop native-controlled, bilingual, and bicultural education across the country. Some, such as Marie Battiste's study of the Micmac school at Chapel Island, Nova Scotia, and the case study of the Blue Quills School at St. Paul, Alberta, by Lucy Bashford and Hans Heinzerling, extend the treatment of questions raised in volume 1. The very diversity of approaches, some serving rural and others serving urban native people, including both residential and day-schools, private schools, and those that are integral parts of provincial education systems, suggests that the ideal of native control of education can be realized only in the specific context of each community.

While the book will be of particular interest to those particularly concerned with Indian affairs, the essays raise a number of general questions for educators and policy planners. For example, Beatrice Medicine's analysis of the use of elders in the task of cultural transmission in Indian schools contrasts with the neglect of non-professional expertise and frequent insensitivity to family values in schools generally. Furthermore, if one concedes, as nearly all the contributors have done, the value for native people of parental and community control of autonomous schools that are paid for out of general revenue, might that not suggest a similar value for other minority groups or, indeed, for society as a whole? If specialist teacher education programs were needed to equip instructors for Indian schools, perhaps a general re-thinking of our relatively uniform and unfocused policies on teacher education and certification is needed. Finally, Yvonne Hebert's reflections on how Indian education programs should be evaluated, taking account of the values and seeking the views of the participants in those programs, are no less relevant to the issue of evaluation throughout education in Canada. Thus, while the book is clearly partisan, it presents in a clear and stimulating manner an important aspect of educational thought in Canada.

Robert Nicholas Berard, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S.

*Reviewed vol. XIV/6 November 1986 p.281.

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