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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
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INERISAAVIK: A New Institution

Karl Kristian Olsen
Director of Inerisaavik

The latest educational political intentions in Greenland to establish a modern school system with internationally competitive academic standards has resulted in the establishment of a centre where specialists and educators can combine their efforts, and thereby contribute to the development of new teaching methods and practices through various additions and expansions in the public schools. This centre has received a Greenlandic name: INERISAAVIK. Translated directly into English it means a place where maturity and growth take place. Inerisaavik's English title is: Centre for pedagogical development and in service training of teachers.

From a historical point of view, institutions such as Inerisaavik were first developed during the last half of this century. The establishment of development centres is based on the fact that society's development and educational development must coincide if the national educational system is to work towards greater social justice.

The establishment of Inerisaavik is linked with the adoption of the new public school act in Greenland. Inerisaavik's main objectives will be to contribute to the fulfillment of the act's educational goals and to insure that teaching methods and practices will continue to develop in accordance with the development of society.

Inerisaavik officially opened in 1st August, 1991, and is located on the second floor of Pilersuiffik, an institution under the Greenland Home Rule administration. Pilersuiffik's main task is to distribute information on educational materials, but its function also includes producing and distributing such products throughout the educational system in Greenland. Pilersuiffik also undertakes the printing and distributing of Home Rule Legislation, and the promotion and distribution of entertainment movies. In connection with the establishment of Inerisaavik, Pilersuiffik has been expanded with the addition of a pedagogical superstructure, and Pilersuiffik comes under the administrative jurisdiction of Inerisaavik's director.

In order to determine Inerisaavik's aims, administration, organization and function, the Department of Culture, Education and Research held a seminar in the spring of 1991. Representatives from the specialist organizations, the public school system, the Department, Ilinniarfissuaq (teachers college) and Pilersuiffik participated in the seminar. As a result of the seminar, the following functions were determined for Inerisaavik:

  • the development of educational methods for the benefit of the individual teacher and student; the implementation of developmental projects in the individual school;
  • the development and testing of new educational material;
  • applied research;
  • the development of curricula;
  • the preparation of educational guides for the various public school subjects;
  • the coordination, planning, implementation and evaluation of in service courses and further training for all educators and leaders in the public school system.

During the seminar, it was also decided that in a next few years time Inerisaavik will be working on similar projects within vocational education.

In order to acquire a general idea of Inerisaavik's functions and establish effective courses of action, it would be useful to set up two different development models. The first model shown here, is one that has been copied by development centres worldwide. It uses research-based strategies for innovation:

  1. FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH
  2. EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
  3. EVALUATION OF THE SCHOOL'S TEACHING METHODS AND PRACTICES
  4. CLASSROOM EXPERIMENTS
  5. FIELD PROJECTS
  6. DEMONSTRATION AND DISPERSAL
  7. USUAL SCHOOL PRACTICE

This development model indicates that development in modern times, as a rule, begins with research, and that research, as a rule, influences daily teaching. But one must be aware of the fact that the development of a school takes many years and involves large areas of society. This research-based development model has been applied in particular in complex societies such as the Anglo-Saxon countries. It has been widely accepted, especially in the United States.

The second development model is based on modifications which occur in legislation within the national educational system. The model consists of the following levels:

  1. REFORM. The Education Act is altered, new decisions are implemented.
  2. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT. New and better curricula are compiled.
  3. PEDAGOGICAL DEVELOPMENT WORK. Legislative power earmarks economic means for the development of the school and of daily teaching. The goal is to improve the teaching content and methods.
  4. ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT. The school is organized in such a way that it is capable of solving its own problems. The school becomes capable of developing its own in practice improvements in environment, leadership and classroom.
  5. SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT. 1-4 result in the development of each individual school.

The development model last-mentioned has been especially applied in smaller countries, where the population is a relatively homogeneous body. Development of the public school in the Nordic (Scandinavian) countries-Greenland included-has primarily progressed by this model.

If one wishes to have a look at Inerisaavik's activities, either of the two distinct development models can be considered independently of each other, although this wouldn't be suitable in this case; rather, to consider them in relation to each other will give a combined and meaningful accession of Inerisaavik's future scope of activity.

According to the first development model, Inerisaavik must work with the newest research in mind. We must be research orientated. We must have our feelers out, see how other countries solve their teaching problems, see if we can utilize their knowledge, methods and experiences in our circumstances. Through cooperation with the teachers, general knowledge, methods and experience can be utilized for the benefit of the individual teacher's daily teaching. In order to accomplish that part of Inerisaavik's tasks, it is necessary that subject specialist consultants continually evaluate the school's teaching practices and participate in international and circumpolar development endeavours in regard to development of their subject.

The next development model shows that Inerisaavik's efforts must be based upon the reforms that the country's politicians have adopted through legislative work. Inerisaavik must contribute to the continual development of curricula and educational guides. Inerisaavik must also contribute to the development of the school as an organization, so that more suitable cooperation patterns are created for the benefit of the daily teaching. It is more important that the school continues to be a pleasant place for the management, the teachers and the students alike; at the same time, the school must be a place where learning takes place.

Inerisaavik's activities will be arranged according to the two different development models. Viewing Inerisaavik's future activities from the first or Anglo-Saxon development model, there is an extensive values research project in progress. This research project is being executed by two researchers from the Royal School of Education in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their research report will be concluded this winter, and Inerisaavik will publish the report through Pilersuiffik. It is the intention that the research report will be followed up by a working document, so that the research results-through course activities-can become useable tools in the teacher's daily teaching.

Besides undertaking initiatives within the research field, subject specialist consultants will, through their own participation in courses and seminars, contribute towards the creation of a better approach to the teaching of their subjects in schools. The consultants' participation in courses and seminars together with their subject specialist commitment will be expected to influence Inerisaavik's course programme in a positive manner. During the courses, there will be the opportunity to explicate some aspects of the subject and the teaching thereof, and thereby arrange them in correlation to teaching. It is important that the courses are useful practically and thereby relevant to teachers.

Viewing Inerisaavik's task from the Nordic (Scandinavian) development model, it is to contribute towards the implementation of the reforms. Reforms presuppose further training of teachers. The new public school ordinance presupposes course- and further training activities for teachers. From long experience, it is known that further training of teachers is one of the determining prerequisites for the establishment of reform.

In connection with the establishment of Inerisaavik, means have been set aside towards course activities for teachers. Inerisaavik has, in cooperation with the Department of Culture, Education and Research, and Ilinniarfissuaq (the teachers college) produced a curriculum for the 92/93 school year. It is intended that the Department, Ilinniarfissuaq and Inerisaavik, will prepare a common course programme for all heads and teachers in the public school from the 93/94 school year and onwards. Inerisaavik's course programme for the 1992/93 school year isn't so extensive, but in 1993/94 the course programme and Inerisaavik's remaining activities will be directed towards the integration of Greenlandic and Danish speaking students.

The linguistic integration that will, already be carried out in some schools in the years 1991/92/93, will be followed with keen interest by subject specialist consultants in order to gather experience data which will benefit all schools when integration is introduced in all schools in the 1994/95 school year.

For the management of Inerisaavik, a steering group has been designated with the following composition: the director of the Department of Culture, Education and Research (chairman), the director of the Department's public school region, the head of Ilinniarfissuaq plus the director of Inerisaavik.

Five positions are prescribed for Inerisaavik, a director and 4 subject specialist consultants.

The subject specialist consultants that have been employed are all prominent figures in the public school system. Each has worked especially with their subject within various areas of developmental growth in the public school:

Specialist consultant for Greenlandic is Hans Anthon Lynge. In addition to his activities as consultant within the realm of the Department, Hans Anthon Lynge is well-known for his commitment to his work as chairman of the Greenlandic Society of Authors, as well as his membership of various boards of directors and committees. Inerisaavik and the public school system will benefit greatly from Hans Anthon's specialist expertise and linguistic creativity.

Louise Richter has been hired as the subject specialist consultant for arithmetic/mathematics. Louise brings with her many good and useful experiences from within the arithmetic/mathematics area. Through her commitment for the subject's development in the public school, she has acquired a very prominent central role within her subject. Louise has among other things worked on the development of Greenlandic materials in arithmetic/mathematics and has been an energetic member of the examination board for several years.

The consultant for foreign languages (Greenlandic, Danish and English as second language) is Lars Wind. Lars has worked in the past as a university instructor, in-service training instructor and consultant in the public school system. Lars has a Master of Arts degree in Eskimo linguistics and has worked for many years in foreign language teaching at a practical as well as at a theoretical level. Inerisaavik's and the public school's expectations are that they will benefit greatly from Lars' wide knowledge within linguistics and linguistic teaching, not least when integration is fully implemented in 1994.

Flemming Madsen is employed as the subject specialist consultant for Science and Social Studies. Flemming is working on the development of teaching materials in Greenlandic. He has also designed an in-service training programme for teachers in Science and Social Studies, and is involved in curriculum development within those fields.

 

 

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Last modified August 15, 2006