Cultural Based Education

Culture-based education is education, which reflects, validates and promotes the values, world views, and languages of the community's cultures.

Culture may be defined as a people's traditions, history, values and language that make up the culture of a group and which contribute to their identity. Culture-based education is intended to honour all forms of knowledge, ways of knowing and world views equally.

Culture-based education will support Aboriginal children as they define who they are as individuals and community members.

Culture - Based Education is far more than the incorporation of cultural events and traditional skills into the curriculum. The goal of culture-based education is to support all students through affirmation of their culture. When the school recognizes and validates the students' culture, it helps them to be aware of their heritage and to value the accomplishments of their family, their community and their ancestors. It builds a sense of pride and self-esteem, which is the best gift any teacher can give to his/her students.

- ECE: Kindergarten to Grade 12

Expectations for Culture-Based Education

Expectations for NWT students:

  • A strong foundation of cultural identity
  • Knowledgeable about their history, traditions, values and language
  • Comfortable in various cultures
  • Continuing to grow and understand their own culture
  • Developing a balanced approach to life
  • Connecting to the world
Expectations for NWT teachers:
  • Incorporate the community culture into their teaching
  • Use local materials and local human resources
  • Participate in the community, outside the school
  • Work in partnership with parents
  • Challenge each student to find and develop his/her individual strength
  • Find mechanisms to incorporate cultures and languages throughout the school year.
Expectations for NWT schools:
  • Support Culture-based Educational expectations for students and schools
  • Accommodate various learning styles through the use of various teaching styles
  • Reflect the local culture and environment
  • Involve Elders as part of the program
  • Provide Aboriginal language programs
  • Provide professional development opportunities to orient teachers to the community's culture and languages. (Adapted from the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1998)
Advice for Teachers

  • Develop an appreciation and knowledge of the unique history of Aboriginal people in the NWT and an understanding of the current political, cultural and socio-economic environment.
  • Learn the community protocol and customs in order to open the lines of communication.
  • Learn about and respecting political and social structures without judgment will help to build support for the school.
  • Meet the community with mutual respect and suspended judgment in order to reach a point of understanding and mutually shared goals. Be prepared to deal with issues you do not fully understand and may not agree with. Imposing conflicting cultural values and perspectives very often creates confusion and resistance.
  • Learn about historical and contemporary local heroes.
  • Take part in community events and celebrations. Being interested and visible will build trust.
  • Help your students feel good about who they are. If they do not respect themselves it will be difficult for them to respect others.
  • Be aware of diverse communication styles that exist in cross-cultural classrooms.
  • Different communication styles can have a significant effect on a classroom and may lead to misunderstandings.
  • When using teaching resources:
    • Avoid biased materials
    • Ensure that Aboriginal people are represented accurately
    • Choose strategies and resources which focus on positive images of the
    • Aboriginal cultures, both past and present
    • Use a variety of teaching styles to accommodate the varied learning styles of Aboriginal students
    • Use content familiar to the students to teach skills and concepts
Advice for Schools
  • The school must enhance and strengthen the community and not work toward or appear to work toward a position of alienation. It should provide an education, which reflects the values and traditions of the community and should respect, without judgment, the social, political and economic realities which affect life in the community.
  • The school needs to be an integrated part of the community that promotes a positive, respectful view of parents, families and the community as a whole.
  • The school has a responsibility to help Aboriginal children define who they are as valuable individuals and community members.
    (Saskatchewan Education, 1995)


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