How many children dream of packing in the textbooks and learning through life experiences? It used to be the way children in Canada and around the world learned, and in some places, this is still the main way to learn. However, in today’s modern world it is important to ‘be educated’ in the Western sense in order to be able to find employment and be self-sufficient. Nokum is My Teacher explores this through the questions of a young boy.
Nokum is my Teacher is a book written by David Bouchard that tells a story between a boy and his Nokum (grandmother, in Cree). The boy would rather stay home from school and learn about the traditional way of life on his reserve. However, his Nokum knows that a formal education is needed, even though she herself never learned to read.
I love the way you teach me
Through stories and through songs.
Through drumming and through singing
We have learned this way so long.
I love the way you teach me
Through your stories and your songs.
Idon’tneedbooks to learn, do I?
Please tell me, am I wrong?
Do you know how I would feel today
If I could share my love this way?
My heart and soul I’d write for you
That you might read and share yours too.
Right beside the English text, it is also written in Cree. I love to see dual-language books for children!
I agree wholeheartedly that a good education is needed, but I also don’t think all of it needs to be done within the confines of a schoolhouse. The reasons that the boy mentions is part of what drew me to the homeschooling life. There is a lot than can be learned through experience, and time spent with family is important.
Traditions are being lost. Skills to survive in nature are gone for the most part. The world is only now starting to realise that these things are just as important as being able to use a computer, but is it too late to balance both worlds?
David Bouchard knows about these ways of learning, having grown up in Saskatchewan and spending many years as a public school teacher (including a short time at my own elementary school) and principal. It wasn’t until his adult years that he learned about his Metis roots.
The paintings in this book are by Allen Sapp, a Cree artist. He has done an excellent job of portraying his native Saskatchewan countryside. The pictures make me long to return home to Saskatchewan.
Along with this book is a CD of singing and drumming by Northern Cree. Now that we live so far from my homeland, it’s lovely that my children can still hear the stories and the music of the Cree.
Welcome to our second annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. You can find the full schedule here. You can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board: