The Curriculum

The Curriculum

Obviously every different Immersion Program of every nation has its own shape and guideline. On the other hand every school should have general criteria to create and develop its own kind of curriculum. Having visited different schools and projects I would like to point out some basic beliefs that are similar for every curriculum development of First Nation’s schools.(1)

The curriculum should reflect the paradigm (pattern) of learning the culture. Though it might be easy to set up and to understand for the Native People, it is not easy to make this curriculum understandable to members of other cultures with different education systems.

Over all formulation of curricula levitate basic principles mainly to integrate practical experiences into the teachings.

Since thousands of years the Native People all over the world have developed methods and ways of learning. There was no lack of education principles or patterns of learning before the foreign speaking people of dominant cultures arrived.

All children in every nation were educated to become culturally responsive and sensitive to contribute to their community. This mission should be achieved by any Immersion Program teaching the culture through the native language. From this mission some basic ideas and goals are derived.


1. Principle of Teaching and Applying

Taking and applying the teaching increases knowledge

Learning is a natural ability of humans. The effective facilitation of student learning is the primary driving force behind all educational decisions, including the design of the facilities. Learning is the process of taking what is learned and using it to make sense of the world. Thus, learning is a constructive process; as opposed to one which views students as passively acquiring knowledge. The students learn by exploration, experimentation, and production, the methods used to assess their progress are appropriate to these modes of learning.


2. Guiding the Natural Given Abilities

Forming a natural being means not writing on a “tabula rasa”.

In the western hemisphere a newborn child is regarded as an empty tablet to be written with knowledge. Information is filled into the child’s brain, assuming that know how (or even wisdom) will somehow emerge. This leads to the misbelieve that a human being can be formed according to the needs of society, or even worse, to the needs of economy. In this picture information is put into nature to make her work. The outcome is often unhappy for the society and the people.

Accepting nature leads to the concept that a human being has all abilities from birth on, probably in a non-evident form. Cultivating a human being is to bring his abilities to the surface and let her flourish. In this picture information is found in the vitality of a nature being. The outcome might be the same but with a much higher possibility of evolving happy people.


3. Evolving Different Types of Intelligence

There is not but one intelligence.

It is proven educational knowledge that people are blessed with different types of intelligence, from rational over emotional to artistically. There is no form of intelligence more valuable than another. All ways of knowing are enhanced so that students may become well-rounded individuals.


4. Learning in School and in creator/created Nature

Knowledge is achieved in school and in nature.

The learning environment should include facilities outside the schoolyard as well (animals, garden, housing) and should accommodate culturally appropriate practices within the school environment. The learning environment should accommodate collaborative and peer learning and teaching, the building of relationships between and among students and teachers, and the community.


5. Teacher being Example

A human stands like the one from whom he received what he learned.

The Immersion School is a community of learners. It has no boundaries or limits. It takes the best of the past and present and blends them to prepare the students for the future. The teachers too are themselves learners, continually looking for ways to stimulate learning in children and to seek new knowledge to make meaning in their world. The curriculum includes, rather than sorts, weeds out, tracks, or labels.


6. Learning by Doing

The culture of the First Nations is very practical oriented. The children learned the necessities for their life by imitating the experienced teachers and simply trying and practicing their abilities. The students in the Immersion School learn by exploration, experimentation, and production. The teaching methods are appropriate to these modes of learning.


(1) Some points are cited from the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program: Papahana Kaiapuni Hawaii (1994), p. 13, 14