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A description of variables related to the occupational choice of Indian/Native teachers



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The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the variables related to the occupational choice of Indian/Native teachers in Saskatchewan. In addition, four questions were posed to determine the extent of influence of specific people, internal agents, and ethnic concerns.The sample for the study consisted of 115 Indian/Native teachers, all graduates of the Indian/Native Teacher Education Programs, and employed within Saskatchewan schools. Data was collected by a mail-out questionnaire. Through analysis of the data, the variables were identified, as was the extent of influence of specific people, internal agents, and ethnic concerns.The major finding of this study was that Indian/Native teachers chose teaching as an occupation for reasons related primarily to ethnic concerns, rather than to variables identified in occupational choice approaches. Important differences were found in the variables of choice between Status Indian and Metis teachers; between younger and older teachers; and among those who had decided to become teachers within different age groups. These findings suggested the need for specially designed career education programs and the presentation of occupational information that would be relevant to Indian/Native students.The five statements ranked most important by the total group in the decision to become a teacher were:1.I enjoy working with children and/or youth. 2.Indian/Native teachers were needed in the school.3.I wanted to help my people. 4.Indian/Native people are responsible for their own survival as a people.5.I wanted to help Indian/Native people gain control of their education system.Only the first statement related to occupational choice approach with the remaining four stemming from Indian/Native concerns.Five research hypotheses were tested to answer the research questions. Significant differences were found leading to the acceptance of the hypotheses and the findings that differences existed between the variables related to the occupational choice of teachers classified on the basis of:1. Age when the questionnaire was completed: The younger teachers, 19 30 years, differed from older teachers in their search for improved self identity; in being influenced by the opportunity to be a role model; and in desire to work against discrimination in schools. The older teachers, 31 years and older, were more influenced by positive family support; by the need to be with people; and by the desire for better living conditions.2. Age when the decision was made to become a teacher: Respondents who had chosen teaching between the ages of 6 to 18 years,highlighted the importance of having supportive family; the desire to develop a positive self image; and the wish to gain professional recognition. Those who made the choice between 19 to 25 years, also pointed out self image needs. For them, the opportunity to be a role model was important, but family influence had been a minor factor. Those who decided at a later age, 26 years or older, wished to work with people and thought that teaching matched their interests.3. Ethnic identity: Status Indian teachers had been strongly influenced by the family in contrast to the Metis group, which did not include family elements in their selection of 10 very important statements. The Me.tis teachers were motivated to teach because of perceived discrimination within schools; the need for an improved self image; and the perception that in teaching they could do what they liked to do.4.Type of school attended.5.Source of funding received while attending a teacher education program.Teachers who had attended either a federal or residential school, and had received funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada were likely to be Status Indians.They had been strongly influenced by their families, by wanting to attend an Indian training program, and by wanting a better standard of living.Teachers who had attended a provincial school and received funding from the province of Saskatchewan were likely to be Metis.They had been strongly influenced by personal concerns for identity and independence. Family influence was a lesser factor.In a further step of data analysis, the computation of mean response scores, individual family members, teachers, and the community were found to be relatively unimportant variables related to the decision to become a teacher.Personality needs, interests, and abilities were important; the desire to improve socio-economic status and identification with a role model were found to be relatively unimportant.The demand for Indian/Native teachers, the desire to help Indian/Native people, and Indian/Native control of the education system were found to be important variables. The desire to attend an Indian/Native training program and to receive funding during training were relatively unimportant variables related to the decision to become a teacher.



Saskatchewan, occupational choice, indian teachers, native teachers



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


College of Education


College of Education



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