An Investigation Of The Significance Of Place: Working Toward A Means Of Cultural Relevance In Diné-Serving Art Classrooms
AuthorPierce, Mara Kristin
KeywordsArt Teacher Education
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Native American Education
Committee ChairGarber, Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this research study was to explore how the significance of place serves as a part of Indigenous—specifically Diné (Navajo)—education cultural responsiveness in the art classroom. Further, objectives of the study included learning how North American art teacher educators can more effectively weave Indigenous understandings of place into pre-service art teacher education to benefit Indigenous learners' needs. I employed a qualitative approach to this study using multiple methodologies: ethnography, phenomenology, an Indigenous research methodology, and arts-based research. Through personal interviews with six participants—two Diné artists, two art teacher educators, and two unfamiliar art teachers new to reservation-serving schools—I sought to locate culturally situated perspectives and values. The goal of the interviews was to gather ideas about the significance of place, about relationships between place and art, and about art teacher preparation for teaching in Diné-serving schools. The design of the study also included new unfamiliar non-Diné art teacher preconceptions and in-situ learning experiences of teaching on the reservation. Beyond the participant interviews, I engaged an arts-based exploration of my experiences with Diné people as an outsider/insider member of the Diné community. The artwork I created also helped weave together data from participant interviews. Findings from the Diné artist participants suggested that places hold significance in Diné culture, art making, and the display or use of art. According to Diné epistemological perspective, place is more than just a physical location, and different from some mainstream ideas about place. For Diné interviewees, place is a container of aspects of life such as energies, nature, spirits, people, and a multitude of other significances, some tangible and some intangible. Findings from interviews with art teacher educators of other Indigenous groups also indicated that place is significant to many Native American peoples, and the idea of that significance is difficult to transmit to Euro-American pre-service teachers. Interviews also indicate that focusing teaching education on social justice theories and employing Native American art and artists can assist in the preparation of pre-service art teachers to teach in reservation or pueblo communities. However, there are deeply rooted cultural concepts that come into play once the new teacher reaches her/his teaching assignment community. Lastly, findings revealed that new unfamiliar art teachers experience a number of obstacles upon entering Diné communities when their prior understandings about the place is limited. Challenges include understanding acceptable cultural observances, student proclivities, and art making practices. Understanding significance of place, stereotyping concerns, and positionality challenges are among the themes that arose as a result of cross-participant analyses. The implications of this research study advocate for: a) building further knowledge about educating pre-service teachers about cultural relevance, stereotyping, and positionality in Native American-serving art classrooms; b) the need for continued cultural learning and mentoring in-situ; and c) the need for unfamiliar art teachers to develop culturally relevant teaching practices with the help of people in the community.
Degree ProgramGraduate College