UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A Study of training programs for Native Indian Teaching Assistants with emphasis on the program at Lytton, B.C. Stringer, Judith Anne


This study was started after the writer attended a workshop in Lytton at which the teachers and the Native Indian Teaching Assistants examined their roles in a new and developing program designed to improve the performance of Indian students in schools by providing Indian adults as role models and as cultural bridges between Indian life and white middle class schools. The writer had been working with teacher aides in multicultural classrooms for seven years outside of Canada and wished to observe similarities and differences in training programs and in acceptance patterns of teacher aides or teaching assistants by school teachers and the school systems. The study has two parts: 1) a review of the literature on Indian Education, the Training of Native Indian Teachers and the Training of Native Indian Teaching Assistants, and 2) the Teaching Assistant Training Program program in Lytton. As the literature of the training of Native Indian Teaching Assistants was sparse, the literature on the training of teacher aides and teaching assistants in multicultural classrooms and on the New Careers for the Poor Movement of the late sixties was correlated with the available material from Native Indian Teaching Assistant Training programs. Components from programs that were judged helpful, successful or necessary by program participants and researchers were assembled and compared. The Lytton program was followed for two years in irregularly spaced visits. Results from structured interviews, questionnaires, and observations made while leading inservice sessions, and doing document study were compiled. Programs designed to train teacher aides or teaching assistants were found to be remarkably similar across North America from 1968-1983. A mini-teacher education course was usually given to the trainees even though in most programs the teaching assistant assumes clerical or tutorial roles. Very little has been attempted in training sessions to enhance the infusion of different cultural norms in learning styles or behaviors into the traditional middle class North American school systems. Although most studies have concluded that the teachers who work with teaching assistants require training and supervision in order to help them learn new roles and teaming skills, few programs had the resources to retrain teachers. The political nature of school change has been underplayed by the people attempting to increase the presence of Indian adults in the schools. The necessity for a wide and effective communication network in the community to gain and retain support for new programs has been ignored, sometimes deliberately, but ever with peril. Those groups in the community that feel they are being bypassed are able to stop or change programs before they achieve their desired results. The introduction of the study of Indian languages and artifacts to the curriculum of schools with large Indian student populations has begun. The study of Indian foods, art, music and dance has been organized in many communities. The deeper culture of attitudes, consideration of others, relationships with the environment and modes of learning have yet to be studied and implemented.

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