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American Indian Parents want their children to learn their native culture.

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In a report approved Monday, members of the Farmington School District’s American Indian Education Parent Committee asked the school board for greater representation of American Indian culture in schools and for more opportunities for students to explore their native heritage.

The committee met regularly prior to this year, but its efforts have changed some since the district added Numen Smith as an American Indian education liaison. It has not typically asked the school board for action.

Smith had his first official meeting with the parent committee earlier this month and has worked with them to identify opportunities.

Among the concerns the committee presented in its current recommendation is the fact signs in the district that present information in multiple languages do not include native languages.

Smith wrote in the committee’s resolution that it is important to let students know there is a growing population of American Indian students in Farmington schools.

“We … need to educate the student body and let them and all parents and teachers know that we are not just mascots or pages in a history book,” Smith wrote. “There are American Indian students roaming the hallways now as we speak, next to your student. Everyone needs to know we are not a race that has just disappeared and now only see in the movies or what Hollywood portrays us to be.”

Barb Duffrin, the district’s director of educational programs, said Monday that the district has seen an increase since Smith was hired in the number of families that identify as American Indian.

Among other things, the committee is advocating field trips to significant sites, a mentorship program for older students to work with younger students and a summer program to keep the district’s native population connected when school is not in session.

The parent committee has also extended an invitation to the district’s art teachers to talk about enhancing the curriculum to include American Indian art.

“Our art teachers are very excited about this,” Duffrin said.

Bids awarded

Also on Monday, school board members awarded bids for several of the projects funded by the bond referendum voters approved last November.

School board members approved a $1,479,600 bid from Pioneer Power to replace boilers at Farmington Elementary School and Boeckman Middle School.

Pioneer Power had the lowest of four bids submitted for the project.

The district also approved bids to replace roofs at Dodge Middle School; Riverview, North Trail and Farmington elementary schools; and the District Service Center and Instructional Service Center. The bids went to different contractors. The total cost will be $4.2 million.

Credits:farmington independent.com

  • Annesha Das Gupta

    It will be interesting to see such programs get implemented. The study of the Indian culture can make the children take a turn towards their home country again. Also, it can further aid in strengthening the international relations.

  • Shriya Katoch

    It’s nice to see that culture is still preserved .

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  • Annesha Das Gupta

    It will be interesting to see such programs get implemented. The study of the Indian culture can make the children take a turn towards their home country again. Also, it can further aid in strengthening the international relations.

  • Shriya Katoch

    It’s nice to see that culture is still preserved .

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More Science Careers: African School Of Physics on Mission To Educate New African Generation Through Traveling Program

"Science is increasingly recognized as an important engine of economic growth and societal advancement," she wrote in an email. She noted "increasing numbers of such programs on the African continent, where there is a surging young population entering the workforce."

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Africa
Ketevi Assamagan, a particle physicist at the U.S.-based Brookhaven National Laboratory, co-founded the African School of Physics, a training program for graduate students in math and sciences. (Photo courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory) VOA

Africa-born particle physicist Ketevi Assamagan is a man on a mission. His goal is to bring science education to a new generation of young Africans through a traveling program known as the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications, or ASP.

“Sometimes, people just need some help to be able to find the right resources,” said Assamagan, an ASP founder who works at the U.S. Energy Department’s Brookhaven National Laboratory here on Long Island. “So, together with some colleagues, we decided to create this school.”

Born in Guinea, Assamagan grew up in Togo and earned a doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1995. Gratitude to past mentors fueled his desire to start the ASP, he said.

Positive elements

The ASP program runs for three weeks every two years in a different African country. The first was in 2010 in South Africa, with subsequent gatherings in Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and Namibia. The next is planned for July 2020 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Each workshop brings together up to 80 students, who are treated to intensive lectures and training by top-flight physicists.

Physicist Ketevi Assamagan demonstrates how a cloud chamber works. (A. Phillips/VOA)
Physicist Ketevi Assamagan demonstrates how a cloud chamber works. (A. Phillips/VOA)

“We get students from all over Africa [who] have at least three years of university education,” Assamagan said. “The majority of them are usually at the master’s level and they come from different fields: nuclear and high energy physics, medical applications, computing, mathematics and theoretical physics.”

The students’ expenses are covered by roughly 20 international sponsors, including the Brookhaven lab; the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; the South African Department of Science and Technology; and Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics.

Another sponsor has been the European Center for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Geneva. Assamagan worked on CERN’s particle accelerator for several years while conducting research on the elusive Higgs boson subatomic particle. He left in 2001 to join Brookhaven.

Sustained support

After the program, participants are paired with senior mentors who offer advice on additional education, teaching and research opportunities, both in Africa and abroad.

For Zimbabwe native Last Feremenga, participation in the 2010 ASP workshop served as a springboard to a doctorate in physics from the University of Texas. Now he’s a data scientist with Digital Reasoning, an artificial intelligence firm headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I sift through large datasets of written text in search of rare forms of conversations/language. These rare conversations are useful for our clients from health care to finance,” the 32-year-old told VOA in an email. He added that he’s using “similar tactics” to those he learned at ASP.

Julia MacKenzie, senior director of international affairs for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says training programs such as ASP are especially important in developing countries.

“Science is increasingly recognized as an important engine of economic growth and societal advancement,” she wrote in an email. She noted “increasing numbers of such programs on the African continent, where there is a surging young population entering the workforce.”

“A potential impact of graduate training is exposure to new ideas and people,” MacKenzie added. “Any time graduate students can come together, it’s likely that new friendships will form, and those relationships can provide support through inevitable challenges and spawn new collaborations.”

application learning
“We get students from all over Africa [who] have at least three years of university education,” Assamagan said. “The majority of them are usually at the master’s level and they come from different fields: nuclear and high energy physics, medical applications, computing, mathematics and theoretical physics.” Pixabay
Hands-on learning

Assamagan says that when he was in high school in Togo, science was taught from second-hand textbooks from abroad. There was no experimentation.

“Direct involvement … in terms of playing with things and getting mental challenge to try to figure it out was not really there,” he said. “We want to resolve that” through ASP.

The 70 or so science teachers at the workshop last year in Namibia learned hands-on experiments that could be replicated with scant equipment and resources.

For example, using only a small plastic box with an aluminum plate, tin foil, Styrofoam, pure alcohol and dry ice, high school students could build a tabletop “cloud chamber” to simulate the detection of cosmic particles from outer space. Another experiment taught physics to elementary school children by way of art. The children could drip paint on a canvas tilted at various angles, then observe the patterns the paint made as it descended.

Also Read: E-Commerce Policy: Centre To Regulate Cross-Border Flow Of Data

“You can then start introducing the idea of gravity,” Assamagan said. “And then relating things falling down to the Earth going around the sun as being driven by the same force.”

Assamagan predicts a bright future for physics research in Africa. He says he sees talent and commitment, but that more digital libraries, along with continent-wide access to high-speed internet connections and the political will to provide them, are needed. (VOA)