REDS, WHITES & THE BLUES TEACHING GUIDE

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1 REDS, WHITES & THE BLUES TEACHING GUIDE Reds, Whites & the Blues ( 2006 ) 42 min. Also broadcast as Reading, Writing and the Rez Synopsis and Introduction to the Teaching Guide This teacher s guide provides a description of the program, some background information, and a set of questions which may help to guide discussion and viewing of the program. We re failing off the log, man Marcus Statistics show that only 4 out of 10 Native teenagers complete their high school education. This CBC documentary explores the experience of four aboriginal students attending high schools in greater Vancouver, in search of a better understanding of why so many aboriginal students are not completing high school.. CBC reporter Duncan McCue wanted to find out why Native kids continue to fall behind in school. Kiki, Chelsey, Jordan and Marcus, who live on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, an urban Indian Reserve in North Vancouver agreed to participate in this documentary. They are in grades 10 and 11, they are friends, and they are typical teenagers. The program presents a sampling of their experiences at home and school. Each of them has a lot of potential, but as we follow them through the second half of the school year, and they record some of their own thoughts on their diary cameras, we see the events and circumstances that distract and discourage them. We soon learn that three of the teens are at risk for failing, and one of those is headed for serious trouble. At the close of the school year, the community, alarmed at some of the activities of teens on the Reserve, takes a dramatic step to protect its children. In this program and teaching guide, the terms First Nations, aboriginal, native, Indian and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (People of the Inlet ) are used at different times depending on the context. DVD Contents The entire program or separate chapters may be selected on the DVD menu CBC Newsworld documentary 42 minutes Chapters 1. Introductions 2. Home and School 3. Hiding in the Fort 4. Passing Grades? page 1 of 5

2 Background and teaching suggestions By Carrie Reid, Lorna Williams and Gary Marcuse Carrie Reid is an educator and consultant. Lorna Williams holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning and is the director of Aboriginal Education at the University of Victoria. Gary Marcuse is a filmmaker and programming executive at CBC Television in Vancouver. His is also the co-director, along with Lorna Williams, of the NFB collection First Nations, the Circle Unbroken. Graduation Statistics In BC today, only 42% of aboriginal children in the public school system will graduate from grade 12. Only 39% of aboriginal males will graduate. The fact that an aboriginal child lives on-reserve makes a huge difference in some districts although in other areas of the province, the on-reserve graduation rates are in fact higher. What remains consistent however, is that the education system is BC is not meeting the needs of aboriginal children. Aboriginal Education Reforms in Canada and British Columbia In the 1960s the Federal Government commissioned the Hawthorne Report which laid out recommendations for changes in Indian Education. The report did not include necessary and sufficient consultation with aboriginal educators, and was met with criticism when it was released. One of the key critiques of this report, and of government policy generally, was the 1972 report Indian Control of Indian Education authored by the National Indian Brotherhood (Assembly of First Nations). The report articulated an educational philosophy which should guide the education of First Nations children. We want education to provide the setting in which our children can develop the fundamental attitudes and values which have an honored place in Indian tradition and culture. The values which we want to pass on to our children, values which make our people a great race, are not written in any book. They are found in our history, in our legends and in the culture. We believe that if an Indian child is fully aware of the important Indian values he will have reason to be proud of our race and of himself as an Indian. We want the behavior of our children to be shaped by those values which are most esteemed in our culture. When our children come to school they have already developed certain attitudes and habits which are based on experiences in the family. School programs which are influenced by these values respect cultural priority and are an extension of the education which parents give children from their first years. These early lessons emphasize attitudes of self-reliance, respect for personal freedom, generosity, respect for nature, and wisdom. This report, along with others of the period focused on the need for changes in teacher training, new curricula and resource materials, and special preparation for teachers working in rural and isolated communities. Forty years later, this film looks at the lives of youths in one urban school district. Have their needs been met? page 2 of 5

3 Questions and Activities The following suggested questions and activities are designed to elicit focused viewing and classroom dialogue about the experience of the youths in the documentary, and the influence of home, family and community life on their experience in school. Critical thinking and viewing will help viewers to arrive at a more complex and nuanced awareness of how family, culture, schooling and beliefs influence their lives and the lives of others. Before Viewing 1. What are some of the influences of home and community life on the way that you perform in school? List positive and negative influences. 2. How important is high school education? What impressions do you have about students who do or don t finish high school? 3. How were youth educated before schools became common, in the past? Do any of these traditional Indigenous practices continue today? Describe. 4. What are some differences between rural and urban communities? 5. Does the structure of the family make a difference? Many students, including First Nations students, live in households with only one parent present, or with aunts, uncles, older generations or other adults. Does this affect their potential in school? How? 6. How has education of First Nations youth changed in the past hundred years? What have been some of the major influences on how aboriginal children grow up? (e.g. reserves, alienation of natural resources and modes of living, residential schools, Western economy, adoption of new professions, urbanization) Which of these changes affected First Nations primarily, and which have affected other populations? 7. This film has been shown under two separate titles. When you see the title Reds, Whites & the Blues, what do you think the film will be about? What does the alternate title Reading Writing and the Rez suggest? Focus for Viewing 1. Some of the students are visibly more successful and more at ease in school. Which ones appear this way? Why do they appear to have an easier time? 2. Observe who the students relate to at school. Who are the helpers and the role models? Does it appear to matter whether the teachers and school staff are Aboriginal or not? 3. Students commonly use slang terms to define their own group, or to identify or denigrate others. Do you see evidence of aboriginal students defining themselves, or being defined by others in this video? What kind of terms do you hear being used? Are these terms loaded? 4. Are stereotypes and generalizations common in this film? Do non-native students appear to make generalizations about youth with aboriginal ancestry? Do the aboriginal youth express views about non-native youth? What impact does this have? 5. Documentaries tell stories with images as well as facts. Look at the body language of the students. How is it different, in different situations. (e.g. at school, with friends, when they are feeling confident, in the band hall, in the cafeteria. ) page 3 of 5

4 6. Note the different kinds of events and activities that the students take part in. Which of these are positive and which are negative? Who do they share these activities with? (e.g. pow wow dancing, hockey, family night, smoking drugs, canoe races, soccer.) Is it important to have both First Nations and non-native people at these events? Why? After Viewing 1. Who successfully completes high school, and why? What differences do you see among the four youths in the program? Which of them meet the expectations of the school? Which ones do well in school, and why? How do family, community, teachers, or other people influence their lives at school? 2. Why does Kiki, in particular, do well in school? 3. When Chelsey does not go to school who checks her attendance? Who should be responsible? 4. Jordan gets into trouble. Why? What happens next? This is a dramatic scene; do you feel that you have the full story? What do you think about the response of the school? What alternatives could there be? (Would a mandatory drug awareness program, for example, be an alternative to expulsion? ) The principal says of Jordan: His days are numbered. What do you think? What do you see of Jordan s life at school? How do people treat him? 5. First Nations student advisor Jaimie Ireland suggests that in her experience "many First Nations students don't really know their own culture." Is this important? Where and when are they able to discuss their knowledge? Is it possible that they know more than they are able to express in a school setting? Is there any evidence in the program that the youth are interested in their heritage (e.g. the scene in the museum)? What role does a school play in cultural education? What culture are they exposed to at school? Should schools be doing more? If so, what could schools do? 6. In the video, members of the community tear down the fort. Who participates? What do you observe in this scene? Extension 1. The Tsleil-Waututh Band has a graduation ceremony every year. Describe what you see in this event. 2. Revisit Chief Dan George s prophecy. What did it mean in its own time? What does it mean today to you? What does it mean to the young people in the video? 3. Research different policies used by schools dealing with drug and alcohol use. What impact does a school policy of zero tolerance have on the school? On youth? What the alternatives (e.g. expulsion versus drug education classes)? 4. For older students: View the videos Education as We See It and The Mind of a Child from the NFB series, First Nations, the Circle Unbroken. What impact have residential schools had on youth, families and communities? How were children educated before colonization? Consult the teaching guide for that series and explore other aspects of the impact of residential schools on earlier generations. Integration 1. What do you find out about the parenting of these youths? Who else in their families do you meet? What differences does it make having more family members around? Does it matter? Who in your life has had a significant impact? page 4 of 5

5 What effect has that individual had at different times in your life, or on your decisions. How? 2. Do you feel more comfortable with your own group at school? Do you behave differently with that group, or with other groups? Marcus says that when he s around white people he has to act whiteish and when he s with chugs he can be himself. How is he acting with the camera crew? Are members of the film crew Aboriginal, do you think? Would that make a difference in what you see? (The CBC reporter, Duncan McCue, is an Ojibwe, from the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario. Find out more about him at ) 3. The subject of safety comes up often. How does safety affect learning? One of the youths says that white kids are afraid of them. A teacher says that some aboriginal students don t feel safe in the classroom. Why? Did the documentary give you any information about why they would feel this way? What kind of events make you feel safe, or unsafe? 4. Discuss how long you ve lived at your neighborhood and in your city? Where were your grandparents and ancestors from? Does if feel any different if you are living on the land where your ancestors have lived for thousands of years? How does this affect you? 5. Where do you want to live, when you have the choice? What influences where you want to live and work? Kiki and Chelsey say that they are often bored on the reserve, but they also want to build a house and live on the reserve. Why? Discuss the relationship between First Nations and the land, and their ancestors? How might this influence decisions about where to live? 6. What do teachers school staff, and parents in the documentary do to support students as learners? Who has supported you and how? Resources First Nations, The Circle Unbroken Video collection is available from the National Film Board of Canada. It includes 23 short videos and a teaching guide. Indian Control of Indian Education (1972) is available on several websites. George, Chief Dan. My Heart Soars (1974) and My Spirit Soars (1982) Hancock House This site provides a listing of the stories, archives and programs dealing with aboriginal stories and communities For more information, contact: CBC Learning PO Box 500, Station A Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6 Toll free: Local: (416) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation page 5 of 5

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