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When Indigenous and Modern Education Collide

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Indigenous education has been heralded as an effective pedagogical strategy for perpetuating and reinvigorating the history, culture, and language of indigenous groups. In this article we make the case that the specific goals and practices of indigenous education, with an indispensable particularistic approach, find opposite hegemonic counterparts in national systems of education that end up diluting and weakening its intended purpose. By exploring curricular and pedagogical issues, the relationship between children and nature, connections between school and community, the promotion of certain languages above others, and the commodification of education, this article explores the common tensions that arise from the divergent epistemologies of indigenous and Western, modern education. The article concludes that if indigenous education is to be successful, it must continuously re-invent itself to ensure that it honours the basic cultural tenets of the ethnic groups it serves, recognises the hybrid nature of many indigenous practices, and uses learning as a springboard to foster social and environmental integrity.
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Keywords: alternative forms of socioeconomic development; environmental education; indigenous education; modernity; school-community links

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Arizona

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.
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