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A case study of three pupils at Wandering Spirit Native Survival School in Toronto



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The purpose of this study was to describe how three pupils in the senior room of Wandering Spirit Survival School in Toronto responded behaviorally to the cultural and academic experiences provided. Participant observation was used to collect data for the study during the period of September 10 to November 15, 1981. Information concerning pupil behavior was gathered during: periods of total-class instruction and periods of individual instruction by the regular classroom teacher; individually-assigned task time; class sessions with visiting resource persons; free time; Ojibway and French language instruction; instruction at Winchester Public School; Sacred Circle feasts; and recess. Pupil seatwork was collected and studied. Additional information was obtained through interviews with the three Subjects and with the director.The study was conducted over a period of ten weeks and totalled ninety-seven hours fifty-one minutes of observation time. The Subjects were students in the senior room of Wandering Spirit Survival School, an alternative school for native children in Toronto, and their class consisted of thirteen pupils from grades five to eight. The procedures of this study yielded descriptive data of each Subject's behavior during the various types of activities observed. From the behavioral data, an account described each S's behavior over the ten-week study period, as it occurred in various situations and with various instructors/resource persons.' Frequency of behavior and changes in behavior were noted. The behavior of Ss was also discussed in light of the cultural and academic goals of the school. The data suggested that the school was partially meeting its cultural goals and was failing to meet its academic goals in the case of the three Ss studied.Wandering Spirit Survival School aimed at providing a safe, nonthreatening environment for its pupils. The atmosphere of the school and the cultural activities of the Sacred Circle, feasts, and Ojibway language instruction were found to be useful in creating a sense of pride in being Indian for the three Ss of the study. More could have been done in providing pupils with a knowledge and understanding of native heritage, native history, and contemporary native issues. Although Ojibway language was taught three times a week, the three Ss of the study had not learned to read, write, or speak any of the language during the ten weeks of this study.A second goal of Wandering Spirit Survival School was to prepare pupils academically so that, if they chose, they could successfully continue their education beyond grade eight. Observations suggested that the three Ss of the study were not being academically prepared for high school according to this study. The Ss spent a great deal of class instruction time engaged in other activities: talking, drawing pictures, walking around, playing with articles at their desks, leaving the room Their behavior was the same regardless of who the instructor was. The Ss were most attentive during audio-visual presentations and during lessons involving activity on the part of pupils. However, the teaching done at the school involved, for the most part, the use of textbooks and workbooks.The teacher appeared to hold higher expectations for Jim than for Donald and Agnes. These expectations were reflected in the small amount [Abstract truncated. Pages iv - v missing from thesis.]



Wandering Spirit Survival School, alternative schools, native students, aboriginal education



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


College of Education


College of Education



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