Date of Award
Urban Studies and Planning
Judy BlueHorse Skelton
Folklore and education, Traditional ecological knowledge, Indians of North America -- Ethnobotany
At a time when young people are disengaging in school, how do we begin to acknowledge that we, as a nation have failed them and how might we look at storytelling and the plant world to establish more inclusive practices in education? Data from a 2015 American Community Survey suggests that in the state of Hawai'i, 40% of public school 8th graders do not meet the Department of Education (DOE) standards in mathematics. This fall, the National Center for Educational Statistics noted that over half of the country’s public schools reported incidents of criminal activity. As a way to address gaps of learning in the American education system, let us engage in alternative ways by welcoming lessons from the Plant World. Matika Wilbur, of the Swinomish nation in Washington state, and award-winning photographer, teaches us that, "In the beginning, everything had a spirit." Mayan people come from corn. Hawaiian people come from taro. We are all indigenous to some place and those places have stories of creation and how we came to be. Regardless of your beginning, these are compelling stories that teach us lessons of how we should live and share in the lands we occupy. Historical events and policies fostered by capitalism and colonialism and their consequences have marginalized youth. Metaphysical philosophies from eastern traditions conflict with western methodologies and pedagogy. Plants and their creation stories invite us to be: patient, responsible and respectful and to cultivate collaborative relationships.
Hathaway, Emma, "Cooperative Learning through Storytelling and the Plant World" (2017). University Honors Theses. Paper 456.