Education Corner 28

DEC 2016

Last edition we left you with a very interesting situation. The young Navarro had found the phrase “Columbus discovers America” in the textbook and he had his 5th graders change the words to “One of the First Europeans to Come to the New World”. He had his students make the changes in ink. Navarro was informed he was breaking a school rule about writing in the textbooks. The students told him they were never to write in the textbooks and “never in ink”. So we were left with the critical thinking question-should Navarro have broken the school rule? Explain.
When giving this case study question to pre-service teachers or in-service teachers the answer is almost always a No. They stress it is important to follow school rules and marking in ink is something students should not do. And furthermore they say it was not right for Navarro to insist they do so. Teachers should not break school rules after all teachers are models for student behaviors. But they also realize that saying “Columbus discovered America” was like saying “Magellan discovered Guam” or “Pedro Fernandes de Quiros discovered Pohnpei”. Micronesians correctly learn that Europeans did not discover Pacific Islands—their own ancestors-the Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians were the first to inhabit and therefore discovered our islands. The use of discover seems almost an insult. So the No to breaking rules becomes a No but with further explanations. It is always suggested that Navarro should have gone to Principal Francetta and explained the problem and asked permission or that Navarro could write a separate page for each of them to put in their books—as an insert. But to be sure once they think critically a simple Yes or No is not sufficient. Even if our case study took place in Trust Territory Times when U S History was taught teachers do not want to see anything as Guam was discovered Guam or de Quiros discovered Pohnpei in any Micronesian history books. Teachers should not break rules as young Navarro did but they should correct curriculum when they find examples as Columbus discovering America and calling the native peoples Indians. Remember Columbus thought he had reached the Indies. Today’s U S textbooks do not make these errors but they did during the Trust Territory Times when Navarro was just beginning his teaching career.


Case Study: Navarro Continues
Young Navarro had survived his first day and his lesson about Columbus. And as you learned in the last case study Navarro liked the students and he was now sure what it was he would be teaching. With the religion matter settled and having looked through the 5th grade texts he saw that the eight grade science simply titled Your Environment. He hoped that the science book would not have to be changed. There were so many new things, bad things happening in the environment. He had learned in college that humans were making some mistakes, big mistakes and just as he had decided to teach his 5th graders he would need to inform the 8th grade students about these environmental problems that were now becoming obvious to the scientists. He thought about history, social science, and social studies. The term social meant people. “Whenever you have people” he thought, “You always have some people interpreting why people behave like they do.” At 22, Navarro was still confused about why people act as they do. Perhaps that is why the young man liked science and math. “You can prove things in science, there were scientific laws to follow and there was the scientific method,” he thought. “At the end of a math problem there is an answer and a correct answer if the problem was done correctly.” At the young age of 22, Navarro had learned that solving human problems was far more difficult than solving a math or science problem. Human beings—Homo sapiens—were very unpredictable.
Navarro was to teach United States history as his islands were still under the U. S. Trust Territory but he wondered why by now there was no Micronesian history book as that seemed more important to him. Soon the various Micronesian entities would be granted independence. Surely there should be someone somewhere doing that. But he was so new at this teaching that he figured he should not say anything. Besides Navarro had already broken school rules over a history matter and he thought he would leave the Micronesian history matter to experienced teachers. Nevertheless, Navarro had not liked the way the U.S. history book had shown Columbus all triumphant planting the flag of Spain. The young teacher also wondered what Columbus had said in the picture that had his crew and some native people. He guessed it was something as “I claim this land and all the land from this place to wherever or forever” and then he thought of the Native Americans pictured. They were smiling and looking happy but the young man knew that they had to be saying something, even if it were under their breaths. “Did this guy say that they owned the land to wherever and forever?” the first one says. “Yes and I wonder if the colored cloth means that these guys intend to own the water, or the air or fire too?” These thoughts made Navarro laugh to himself even though they were not really funny. The whole idea of Colonialism was so very important in the Social Studies particularly for Micronesian history. Navarro knew that land ownership by individuals did not even appear in Micronesia until the German Times at the end of the 19th century. Finally, Navarro decided he would be just fine with most of the content in U. S. History and everything else for that matter. What to teach was easy ... but how he was going to teach now occupied his mind.
He reviewed his yellow pad and his good teacher list and the two words he had used-imaginative and creative kept popping up. But these words confused him. What had he meant by not boring and not dull but imaginative and creative? He thought again and said to himself, “They made it interesting.” These thoughts lead him to the next obvious question—How did they make it interesting? The answers to this ‘How’ would help him. He was sure of that. To be continued.........