In the old days, education was a fact of life. You lived your education through your own actions and interpretations of your parents’ and their parents’ actions, and their interpretations of their parents’ actions, and so forth. This developed into traditions passed on from generation to generation, which provided a basis for an order of life and cultural stability.
Throughout the modern world, traditions and cultural lifestyles have been compromised by the “regular and average lifestyle” brought on by “progress” which provided “better living conditions” for “everyone.” If the world were perfectly round and every living environment the same, this perfect harmony could be possible. But this just isn’t so in this vastly different and changing world-wide climate. The Cree Nation is no exception.
Today, an industrialized and politically homogenized lifestyle is the norm. The average Cree child learns exactly the same things as other children in Quebec. The standards of education reflect the average use of average skills within an average lifestyle in the average Quebec community.
But how average can one be? Are the average ABC’s of Quebec education appropriate for the average lifestyle of the Crees of northern Quebec? Can the average lifestyle of the average Cree in northern Quebec change to accommodate the expectations of the Quebec education system?
No. It’s a simple answer to a complex question, but a daunting challenge to those parents who are responsible for their own children’s future. Politically, those parents are responsible for the course that their education system takes, for their children from childhood to graduation; from graduation to adult hood; and from adulthood to caring for their own children’s educational needs. It is a cycle which should change according to the needs of the environment which encircles them.
The Cree lifestyle must recuperate from this massive educational indirection. The traditional parameters of learning must incorporate the knowledge necessary to continue the cycle of the Cree lifestyle – without being “left out” from the rest of the world. This can be a very overwhelming process for teachers, but children have proven to be most flexible and to absorb everything that sparks their interest.
How can this process be “acceptable” to parent, teacher and the official education system? As one can readily understand, the political process can’t answer the needs of those whose needs are non-political.
Parental guidance must venture beyond the home and into the everyday environment. Teachers must realize that the traditional parameters of educational standards must be broken to accommodate changes in lifestyle. Educational parameters must never be limited to politically inclined knowledge and must always be expanded to accommodate the increasing information of today’s and yesterday’s world.
What is education anyway?
The answer is – expansion of one’s knowledge.