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Old 12-19-2004, 12:01 AM   #1
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Black And White Text Meaningless To Natives

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Government Language Study Claims Black And White Text Meaningless To Natives
Bruce Cheadle
Canadian Press


Sunday, December 12, 2004



OTTAWA (CP) - A government study on language training in the federal public
service says natives can't learn in black and white.

The draft document, part of a $700,000 report completed in 2001 and obtained
under an Access to Information Act request, points to particular difficulties
in teaching French to employment equity groups.

"Furthermore, black and white presentation materials carry no meaning to
aboriginals," says the study, commissioned by the Public Service Commission and
Treasury Board Secretariat.

"Earth tones and aboriginal designs will immediately attract their
attention."

The description was panned as "extremely racist" by Taiaiake Alfred, a Mohawk
author, scholar and activist who teaches at the University of Victoria.

"What are we, monkeys?" Alfred said after an incredulous hoot of laughter.

"I could probably write a whole dissertation on how racist that is. It's the
worst sort of pandering to romantic notions of what it is to be indigenous.

"Earth tones? Where does that come from, (the movie) Dances with Wolves? What
it's saying, obviously, is that we can't read, that we need pictures."

The paragraph was flagged as potentially offensive by a Treasury Board
official in a July 2001 memo.

"There are some rank generalizations about aboriginal learners that I find
questionable and may be inappropriate," Sharon Smith wrote in a critique of the
draft report.

But a further draft in October 2001 maintained the offensive paragraph
verbatim and added more:

- On group training and role-playing: "Impersonal story-telling would be more
appropriate. Furthermore, aboriginals tend to be introverted, making
adaptation to the learning environment and testing methods all the more difficult."

- On language aptitude testing: "Aboriginals are visual thinkers and
learners, therefore the auditory nature of this test is a problem for them."

Finally, in a copy of the report that included hand-written editing notes
dated December 2001, the sentence referring to earth tones and aboriginal
learners was scratched out without comment, although an attached annex repeated the
entire paragraph.

The "permanent draft" placed on file as a departmental reference document
later that month made no mention of aboriginal learning problems.

The Canadian Press 2004
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Old 12-19-2004, 12:36 AM   #2
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O...M...G.... how racist... we are silent noble natives..oh and by the way...most smart in-the-know people write Natives and Aboriginal with capitals.... earth tones my ***... only bright shiny objects attract my attention... i'd like to write to whoever did this retarded study and give them a piece of my mind....and who in their right mind wants to learn french?..didnt they vote jerry lewis as the "funniest man ever"....
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:04 AM   #3
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ROFLMAO MOTS!!! That's exactly what I thought when I first read this. Apparently it was a study done Canada therefore the french language.. but DANG is this guy dense! I absolutely loved Taiaiake's response!
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by middle of the sky
O...M...G.... how racist... we are silent noble natives..oh and by the way...most smart in-the-know people write Natives and Aboriginal with capitals.... earth tones my ***... only bright shiny objects attract my attention... i'd like to write to whoever did this retarded study and give them a piece of my mind....and who in their right mind wants to learn french?..didnt they vote jerry lewis as the "funniest man ever"....
MOTS:
BRAVO!!!! I prefer sand/cave drawings and smoke signals! J/k what a bunch of BS...OMG!!! WTF the French can't even understand French! 2004 and still BS like this from the Gov't???
Will they EVER learn? guess not for a while...
C
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Old 12-19-2004, 05:33 PM   #5
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I feel that this whole thing does sound like a bunch of BS and racist.
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:16 PM   #6
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La Frances

Well, I read it.

And then read it again with the total idea of a person knowing nothing about Natives.

And, I came up with this - perhaps we should not be too hard on this - after all they were trying (note key word trying) to teach French - a White European Romance Language (note key words there are White Eurpoean). One must think - just how "bad" were the teachers and how dis-interested in learning French (White European Romance Language) did the Native excude!

Does anybody else see the irony here?! If so then perhaps you can see why one might not want to make too much of it to start with.

Of course, the guy is still an idiot.

Regardless of the person and his comments - what irks me the most is the waste of time and money to make such a pointless study!

Last edited by Tom Iron Eagle; 12-20-2004 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Iron Eagle
Well, I read it.

And then read it again with the total idea of a person knowing nothing about Natives.

And, I came up with this - perhaps we should not be too hard on this - after all they were trying (note key word trying) to teach French - a White European Romance Language (note key words there are White Eurpoean). One must think - just how "bad" were the teachers and how dis-interested in learning French (White European Romance Language) did the Native excude!

Does anybody else see the irony here?! If so then perhaps you can see why one might not want to make too much of it to start with.
I disagree.

while growing up in public schools, I volunteered for Foreign language classes (Spanish and German) in fact I'm still learning my own tribal language, Choctaw, in a formal text book manner right now. (a cousin of mine teaches the online Choctaw classes from the tribes' website)

It's really a matter of both teaching formats and interest of the student(s) themselves. If they were trying to relate to Natives in the Canadian regions, obviously they did a poor job of "brainstorming for new ideas". They should've gone to the students and their families for input on ways to improve the learning environment for the French classes. However, to truly learn ANY language, you must be immersed in it. A trip to France itself would be a huge help to the students. Not to mention relating the French language to everyday usage (i.e. work related matters, tourism, official documents, etc.) in Canada.

The remarks made in the government document were IGNORANT in every sense of the word. But remember NO GOVERNMENT is perfect either. I'm not excusing it, but I'm just not surprised by it either.

The one point I saw they tried to make was learning abilities. There are two different kinds of students in any classroom, those who can learn formally by written/verbal instructions (ex. "put tab A into slot B") and those who learn by demonstration/visual instruction (ex. the instructor shows the student how to put tab A into slot B, or there's a drawing of the demo).
personally I'm able to do both, demos help me recall the information better though. This is true for every learning group, not just Native Americans/Aboriginals. But when I'm learning a new language, I have to hear it all the time, not just write down the translations.
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Old 12-20-2004, 02:33 PM   #8
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Education

Angel, I would not say that you are disagreeing so much as you are giving us some excellent points that we did not go into.

And your are very correct in your points. Very good concepts of Education there.
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:51 PM   #9
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I seriously think this guy was trying to prove that we are'nt so smart. I mean, puhleeeezzzeee!!! How did we ever learn anything if for the last couple centuries everything forced on us was written in black and white and not "earth tones". Hey maybe we "prefer" color over black and white, but does'nt everyone?

When I was in grade school was when they started coming out with paper that was colored other than white or legal yellow. The "study" of the time was that students can concentrate better by writing on blue or pink paper better than white because it does'nt have the blinding glare from light and is more appealing....too bad half the schools would'nt allow colored paper eh?

So why would a survey be done like this to begin with? The folks that funded him should be embarrassed!

As for what angielina was saying about the A and B minds.. this true ... but anyhow, it coincides with that whole left brain / right brain idea. I'm more a learn by example or hands on person but I'm very good at following written instruction as well... but they say mathmatical minds are more the written and artistic the demonstrative.
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