Blackfeet College Program Helps Make Math Accessible

Nov 15th, 1991 | By | Category: 3-3: Math, Science and Medicine, Tribal College News
By Gordy Sherer

Blackfeet Community College is working to strengthen math and science education for its commun­ity by joining in a partnership with teach­ers, public schools and four-year colleges.

Arguing that math and science educa­tion must be stressed at all ages and be culturally relevant, the college is helping to train teachers and build connections to public schools. It is also encouraging native American students to earn teach­ing certificates and return as instructors and role models in the Blackfeet community.

The project, supported by a Science Education Improvement Project grant from the National Science Foundation, will offer a series of conferences and training seminars for teachers, faculty and administrators. As a special project, it will also offer living and learning encampments for both teachers and Indian students.

The project began in March with a conference sponsored by the college and the Browning Public Schools. Work­shops, attended by both teachers and community members, stressed the need to make math exciting and relevant for Indian students, according to Gerard Vandeberg of Blackfeet College. Strategies were offered on how teachers and students can work together and how computers and calculators can be made an effective part of math instruction.

In addition, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, a national organization supporting science careers for American Indians, will also offer a week of training for teachers on culturally appropriate math and science instruction. To be held outdoors as a wilderness encampment, teachers will not only learn about teaching strategies, but will be immersed in Indian culture. While living in tepees, they will be instructed in Blackfeet culture and lan­guage from elders. An additional one-week outdoor program will be offered for children.

Finally, Blackfeet Community College is also encouraging Indian stu­dents to not just become skilled in math and science, but to continue their educa­tion at a four-year institution. Through the National Science Foundation grant, ten students will receive book and living allowances for their first two years of education at the community college. It is hoped that these students will then con­tinue their education at a four-year insti­tution so they can return home to teach a new generation of native Americans.

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