Nations within a Nation
Cross-Cultural Field Insights in an Anishinaabe Context
Keywords:Early childhood teacher education, Indigenous education, International field experiences, Tribal sovereignty, Colonization, Anishinaabe
This case study of undergraduate early childhood education pre-service teachers in an international field experience examines living, working, and studying in a sovereign nation while still “at home” within the United States. In our various roles (researcher, pre-service teacher, faculty mentor), we explored the impact of colonization as we lived and worked with people who are Anishinaabe. We viewed the larger issues that tribal sovereignty brings to education in terms of federal and state standards. Our research focuses on the impact of this cross-cultural field experience on the pre-service teachers’ understanding of self as related to cross-cultural teaching. We employed a reflective multilayered process before, during, and following the field experience, and used qualitative emergent coding methods. Pre-service teachers developed an awareness of their individual comfort zones, recognized the power in strengths-based versus deficit-based approaches, and gained clarity on the cultural role of education and the role of culture in education. With this new knowledge, teachers may be better able to create culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogies in ways that allow for more meaningful connections with students and their families.
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