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From THEATA: Tlingit, Haida, Eskimo, Athabascan, Tsimshian, Aleut, Volume 12, by Alaska Native students attending the University of Alaska – Fairbanks. Copyright @ 1987 Student Orientation Services, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska. Reprinted by permission of Charlotte Basham, Associate Professor, UAF.

I disagree with the Molly Hootch case. Rural students should not go to school in their own home area. Students would be better off academically if they went to a public school in a larger area. In the community students are not encouraged to achieve as much. At boarding school students learn to deal with homesickness so going to college or trade school is easier. The choice of classes is broader and the student challenged. Students can live in a dorm, with their peers as a support group.

In the community the students do not have enough time to concentrate on their homework and that really hurts their grades. They blame the lack of success on their ability to learn, not realizing it is due to the fact that they spend too much time on the chores that their parents assign them.

The elders say that students do not learn their culture if they are away from home. My opinion is that if the community wanted to teach their children their culture, then it would not be as hard as it sounds. Learning the ways of our ancestors requires you to live in villages where you can learn the culture, but is does not matter if you are away from home for a long period of time. That does not eliminate your heritage. Sure, it makes it harder to learn the language, but don’t you learn the language as a child when you are home with your parents and are able to pick up things easily? After you are past that stage, you then go into schools that require you to speak English. Then you can go into the later schools and learn a lot of cultures besides your own.

Students score lower in the smaller schools on the S.R.A. test than the larger schools on the national average. I think that the student would be benefited if they had work to raise the scores. That way the student would be better able to survive in college. If they had the option of taking classes that challenged them, then I think they would want to achieve. In the village the student is stuck with required classes and the choices are very limited. The only choice I had to make was whether I wanted to take physical education, shop or home economics. I think that is not fair. If we were in a bigger school then the possibilities would open up.

To start a high school in a small area there have to be at least eight students. The schools are so small that the students have to share one or two teachers who are not expert in all the fields they teach. Their major study area is covered, but they usually have to teach subjects that they know little or nothing about. The students’ ability to learn is hurt by the teachers lack of knowledge. For instance, I took English and the next class that teacher taught was history. The teacher was an expert in English, but not in history. Sure she read the book, but that is not the same as having an expert teach you the subject. That way the students get professional knowledge and are able to ask questions that they know will be answered intelligently.

The work in the community school goes at the pact of the slowest students in the classroom. Students who are slow to learn always have a challenge to look forward to, whereas the students with the ability to learn at a quicker pace are at a disadvantage. The pace of the class always has to be the same, no one can get ahead, but you can always get behind. A student who was a fast learner in high school goes to college and is terrified to learn that his is not brilliant as he was in high school. Then he feels like a total failure for not getting A’s like he used to. A student who was slow would not survive because college goes faster than he can keep up.

Sometimes you get a teacher who does not care if you do your homework or sleep during class. He would only say that you should go to the principal’s office and sleep at home. Of course that student would never listen, because there would be no punishment involved. If you were in a large school everyone would notice you sleeping and that would be embarrassing, so you would never do that again. Being in a larger school helps you discipline yourself; if you blow up in class everyone will be there to witness the event.

In the village the curfew is not enforced as strictly as in the dorm. Students do not know the importance of going home on time and getting proper rest. In the dorm you have a lights-out policy so you do all your socializing during the day rather than waiting until after-hours. Staying out in the village you lose a lot of sleep and are not able to function properly in the classroom. Curfews help you stay on a schedule, but in the village you only have to follow your own time.

In the village the schools and gym facilities are very small. The library has a limited number of books. You constantly have a feeling that something is missing. The small facilities make you feel very cooped up and you get annoyed trying to do an activity in the rooms. The gym is very small. When you try and play games or run around you get shin splints and the amount of space available does not give you