Stories from school : celebrating and learning from the success of Aboriginal graduates
Although the percentage of Aboriginal youth who leave school prior to completion is declining, it remains higher than that of non-Aboriginal students. The following research questions frame this narrative inquiry: 1. What are the stories of six Aboriginal students who graduated from an urban provincial high school? 2. What factors do they perceive as contributing to their success in completing an academic grade twelve? 3. What recommendations do they have for educators and schools, which would benefit current Aboriginal students? The six participants are introduced with a narrative account of the interviews between the researcher and each participant. The researcher looked for commonalities that emerged from the participants' stories and grouped them into three broad themes: Our Environment, Our Relationships, and Ourselves. Within the themes the researcher commented on specific experiences and opinions expressed by the participants. A number of the participants' original stories are combined and included to allow their voice to authenticate the findings. Participants revealed how interconnected relationships contributed to their academic success. Positive relationships with family, friends, and teachers were factors participants expressed most frequently as contributing to their success. Some of the participants, however, identified negative peer pressure, lack of family and school support, and discrimination, but all participants showed ability to cope with adversity. The values and inner strength participants maintained emerged in their stories demonstrating the strong relationship they had with their inner selves. A list of recommendations for high schools, generated by participants, accompanies each theme. Recommendations included recognizing and taking action toward issues such as discrimination, gangs, and lack of student involvement in school activities. Participants recommended alternative counselling and academic support programs. Recommendations aiding in the development of positive student-teacher relationships were generated from the descriptions of effective and ineffective teaching practices. The most significant recommendations rising from the stories of the six participants focused on building community in the school and bridging families and local resources with the school. Most importantly, participants acknowledged the need for schools to be conscious of the diversity in traditional practices, home life, and culture among urban Aboriginal students.
Aboriginal retention, social structure, discrimination, academic support, teacher relationships, storytelling
Master of Education (M.Ed.)