Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oklahoma Humanities Council-2008 Teacher Training Institute

The required reading by Riches to the Poor by Earl Shorris. "You've been cheated," Earl Shorris tells a classroom of poor people in New York City.
"Rich people learn the humanities; you didn't. . . . It is generally accepted in America that the liberal arts and humanities in particular belong to the elite. I think you're the elite." In this groundbreaking work, Shorris examines the nature of poverty in America today. Why are people poor, and why do they stay poor? Shorris argues that they lack politics, or the ability to participate fully in the public world; knowing only the immediacy and oppression of force, the poor remain trapped and isolated. To test his theory, Shorris creates an experimental school teaching the humanities to poor people, giving them the means to reflect and negotiate rather than react. The results are nothing short of astonishing. Originally published in hardcover under the title New American Blues.

Monday July 21: 3:30-9:30After welcoming remarks from Dr. Sanders Huguenin, Vice-President of the university,meeting the elders, and our hosts, members of the facilitating team and the humanities council; we were introduced to the Clemente course by Dr. Megan Benson, which I have summarized as using comparative humanities to empower high level thinking and communication enhancing self-esteem and positive change. "Riches to the Poor, because the only ones who can solve the problem of poverty, are the poor." I add to the definition of poor, the people with power and money, but who lack the ability to see the world from different perspectives, a different kind of poor, which this method will also help empower.

The aim of the original Clemente course was to expose the urban poor to the humanities with the purpose of empowering them to enter public life.

The Kiowa Clemente course is a cross cultural humanities seminar, it is a collaboration between faculty of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Kiowa Elders. It is an outgrowth of the original Clemente course. It aims to preserve and promote traditional cultres and provide the tools to succeed in the dominant society. By studying the Kiowa way and the Western tradition, students nurture a better appreciation of their own culture, a Kiowa Renaissance. It is an awakening of the power of culture. It draws similarities and differences between the two traditons and uses each as a foil to illuminate the other. Western world uses books, Kiowa cultures use oral tradition. The course hightens respect for both traditions. Students leave with broader horizons, an appreciation for the Kiowa tradition, and openeness to the Western classics and a greater ability to think criticallyy about both. When the Western classics are used to enhanced the understanding of their own tradition, rather than supplant it, the Western classics can help to acquaint the American Indian students with the power and importance of culture and thus empower them to take control of the future of their own culture...from Sanders Huguenin

The purpose of the teaching institute, funded and offered to K-12 Oklahoma teachers free of charge by the Oklahoma Humanities Council, is to empower the teachers to bring the Native cultural perspective into Oklahoma classrooms. The program director is Rachel

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