School Practices and Education Policy: Aboriginal Students’ Challenges and Successes
14 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018
Date Written: April 4, 2018
The academic success of Aboriginal students remains particularly concerning across Ontario, Canada, the United States and abroad. Less than half of all Aboriginal students in Canada receive a secondary school diploma since they often do not discern meaning in both the provincial curriculum and the priorities of public schools. In the province of Ontario (Canada), the Ministry of Education (OME) 2007 policy document, The Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (the Framework) addresses the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners in public education. The Framework points to the epistemological learning preferences of Aboriginal students and aims to make all stakeholders more accountable for the academic success of Aboriginal students. This study examines the perceptions and experiences of Aboriginal students in northern Ontario publicly-funded schools in the context of the objectives of the OME policy Framework. The findings of this longitudinal qualitative study include two categories that are described as ‘Schools as Spaces of Socialization’ and ‘Principled Actions and Variability.’ The categories, as the discussion of the paper will suggest, bring to light the potential of Aboriginal students to first flourish in the imagination of their individual and collective identity, and second, to undertake the challenges associated to public schooling and thrive in what can be adverse environments. However, the findings of this study also point to the fact that some Aboriginal students perceive the various injustices of school practices and relations but in most instances, consider themselves as having very limited opportunities to enact change.
Keywords: Aboriginal students, education policy, achievement gap
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