Native American Learning Stories
GRADE LEVEL: Primary - Secondary
BASIC CONCEPTS: Learning for multiple levels of understanding.
ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: As a stimulus for higher-level thinking skills, Native American learning stories can provide different meanings for different problems or questions.
CULTURE AREA: United States
TIME PERIOD: Pre-historical - Contemporary
BACKGROUND: Who Speaks for Wolf is an ancient Native American Learning Story. It has been designed over many generations to encourage people to think, to understand, to consider, to remember. It has been used in schools at all age levels, in environmental teaching, in decision-making classes, and in corporate training. It is used in counseling teen-agers and victims of abuse. It is used in values clarification and in training for peace. It is part of a remarkable body of Native American wisdom that has been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. Who Speaks For Wolf is a story of one people's struggle to live within their environment and learn valuable lessons. " . . .The purpose of this whole educational system is to enable each individual not only to learn to process, to decide more effectively - but to look at the wholeness. And unless we learn to weave our wisdom's together - the wisdom's within each, the wisdom's within all - unless we learn to take each separate strand of our many understandings and weave them together into a whole understanding, we have not learned enough. Specificity is requisite. Wholeness even more so." p. 17 of Three Strands in the Braid: A guide for enablers of learning
Knowledge: Students will: (Reading 2.2) expand comprehension by analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing information and ideas, and (Reading 2.3) think critically and analyze authors' use of language, style, purpose, and perspective.
Skills: Students will: read the story, discuss the implications or usage's of the story, then reread the story as many times as possible.
Values: Students will: critically compare, contrast, and connect ideas within and among a broad range of texts, AND apply information gained from reading to give a response and express insight, and analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas and concepts within, among, and beyond multiple texts.
ACTIVITIES: Students will read Who Speaks For Wolf, then consider the question, "What . . may we learn from this?" Allow adequate time for processing the information, either forming groups to discuss the questions or holding a larger discussion/ brainstorming ideas and concepts. Students should be able the analyze the story using this question. The story should be read at least three times, perhaps in as many days and in different ways, and students should wait patiently for a response to come to them.
EXTENSIONS: By evaluating the many different applications of this story, we can connect many ways of looking at life and its problems, its solutions, its questions and answers. Have students compare this story to another Native American story from your school's library. Have them look for similarities, differences, purposes, outlooks, etc.
EVALUATION: Be prepared for as many different responses as there are students in your classroom. This story is very powerful and can elicit many different emotional responses. It can be very simple or extremely complex, and can even become the focus of an applicable question in many situations in the classroom, "Who speaks for wolf?"
quotes and materials from Who Speaks For Wolf: A Native American Learning Story by Paula Underwood - A Tribe of Two Press: San Anselmo, Ca. Ph. 415-457-6548
for use with Who Speaks for Wolf - Three Strands in the Braid: A Guide for Enablers of Learning -by Paula Underwood