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Teaching Truly

Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs)

Teaching Truly

A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education

Series: Critical Praxis and Curriculum Guides - Volume 3

Year of Publication: 2013

New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 282 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-2248-4 pb.  (Softcover)
ISBN 978-1-4331-2249-1 hb.  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.420 kg, 0.926 lbs

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Book synopsis

For the first time in educational publishing, Teaching Truly offers K–16 teachers course-specific guidelines for indigenizing mainstream education. The goal is to facilitate greater educational integrity and relevance in the classroom now, without waiting for more «reforms» to policy, standards or curricula in general. Incorporating reality-based teaching common in traditional Indigenous learning cultures, each chapter first exposes educational hegemony, including that existing within the new «common core standards», and then offers alternative, time-tested perspectives and exercises to counter and/or counter-balance such hegemony. Addressing eight common subject areas, the material can be adapted for different grade levels and can be applied to other mainstream courses.


Contents: The West: Anti-Indianism in Education and in the Academe; Historical Trauma and Its Prevention in the Classroom – The North: The STAR (Service To All relations) Navajo School Model; Indigenous Teaching and Learning Pathways – The East: Health; Music; English Language Arts; United States History; Mathematics; Economics; Science; Geography – The South: From Fear to Fearlessness (Religion/Psychology and Spirituality).

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs) has a PhD in Health Psychology from Columbia Pacific University and an EdD in Curriculum and Instruction with a Cognate in Indigenous Worldviews from Boise State University. Former Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College and a tenured professor at Northern Arizona University, Four Arrows is currently on the faculty in the College of Educational Leadership and Change at Fielding Graduate University. Recipient of Canada’s Mid Day Star Award for his service to Aboriginal Peoples and the Moral Courage Award from the Martin Springer Institute on Holocaust Studies, Four Arrows is the author of 20 books and numerous chapters and articles on the positive application of Indigenous perspectives generalized from a number of First Nations on mainstream issues. He lives in a small fishing village in Mexico with his artist wife where he plays arena polo, stand-up paddle surfs and plays one-wall handball. In 2012, he placed fourth in the world championships of «old time piano playing contests» and can be seen in the documentary, The Entertainers.


«Penetrating, fearless and practical, this book offers educators (and anyone else with an interest in our future) a way to create a better world U8211 before it is too late!» (Thom Hartmann, award-winning syndicated progressive talk show host and author of numerous books including The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight)

«This remarkable, nerve-touching book provides a missing link between the knowledge and ways of seeing and learning of indigenous peoples, that is ‘part of the soul’, and the imperial education of the liberal West. In exposing and then pushing back a corporate screen behind which we all live and learn, Four Arrows hands us a new way to resist.» (John Pilger, Author, investigative journalist (International reporter of the Year and recipient of a United Nations Peace Prize) and academy award winning documentary film-maker)

«This enlightening book reminds us that the grim prognosis for life on this planet is the consequence of a few centuries of forgetting what traditional societies knew, and the surviving ones still recognize. We must nurture and preserve our common possession, the traditional commons, for future generations, and this must be one of our highest values, or we are all doomed. To regain this sensibility from those who have preserved it we must pay careful attention to their understanding and practices, especially their educational practices as brought to us in these thoughtful chapters.» (Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT, author of more than 120 books, recipient of the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize and one of the top ten most-cited individuals in the world, living or dead)

«Teaching Truly subtly raises the issue of the difference between education for the purpose of raising human consciousness and education for the purpose of creating workers for the global economy. Four Arrows makes it clear that our focus on the material and away from the spiritual aspect of our nature has created not only an imbalance in our mind/body/spirit that manifests in disease, dispirited communities and alienated children but also in the outward imbalance and disharmony on the planet that gives us life. In order to move forward, sometimes we need to connect with the best of our past. This book and its curriculum ideas are an opportunity and a gift to our children and the future. It is time to remember, to honor and to teach the great wisdom of our indigenous ancestors – this may be our last hope.» (Nancy Turner Banks, M.D., author of AIDS, Opium, Diamonds and Empire)

«Teaching Truly is a singularly provocative book with the unsettling analysis that education is not about learning and economics is not about the well-being of society. As today’s institutions crumble in their dysfunction, Four Arrows draws upon tens of thousands of years of empirical data within Indigenous societies, crucial intelligence on what works and how to unleash the kind of learning that will help us become human beings present and in balance with Mother Earth.» (Rebecca Adamson, president of First Nations Development Institute, founder of First Peoples Worldwide and inductee to The National Woman’s History Hall of Fame)

«This is a necessary book, a part of the revolution we so desperately need.» (Derrick Jensen, author of A Language Older than Words)

«At a time when mainstream education is viewed as impoverished and lacking in meaning, this engaging book invites educators to start a self-reflective dialogue on educational innovation stimulated and inspired by the indigenous wisdom. With humility, sensitivity and force, Teaching Truly gives rise to the possibility of transforming education from inside out.» (Scherto Gill, Executive Secretary of the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, and author of Learning Across Cultures and Exploring Selfhood)

«In this provocative new book, Four Arrows takes a principled stand on behalfof a significant educational perspective that has long been buried by corporate and political interests, that of the continent’s Primary People. We would surely live more balanced, respectful and grounded lives if 21st-century educators were to read this book and learn from its lessons. If we hope to pass along to our grandchildren a healthy 22nd century, we need a richer education than the ‘edupreneurs’ have provided us thus far.» (Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education, University of Georgia)

«Teaching Truly is an important work. It outlines in great detail how we can bring Indigenous perspectives and practices into the K–16 curriculum. This book provides a powerful framework as well as many practical strategies that can inspire teachers. Rooted in the original vision of Indigenous peoples, Four Arrows has given us a way to educate the whole person including the soul. Educating the whole child is indeed our last hope.» (John (Jack) P. Miller, author of The Holistic Curriculum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto)

«In my own work as an environmental activist, I’ve learned more from the indigenous environmental network than just about anyone else. If the Indigenous perspective can help even an old guy like me, then educators should be paying attention to what Four Arrows offers in this book. God knows we need some new ways of looking at things.» (Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of The End of Nature, The Age of Missing Information, and The Global Warming Reader)

«Now more than ever, teachers overrun by the bankrupt Common Core hegemony need the wisdom and insights, the joyfulness and harmony offered in Teaching Truly.» (Susan Ohanian, author of Caught in the Middle: Nonstandard Kids and a Killing Curriculum)

«This new book by Four Arrows bridges a gap, allowing for a renewed flow of wisdom from American Indian cultures. This perspective has always been crucial to us at AERO and we hope many will be able to use it before our mainstream culture goes over a cliff.» (Jerry Mintz, Founder and Director of Alternative Education Resource Organization)

«This book needs to be taken seriously. It offers a perspective that has been missing in cultural storage and thinking promoted in public schools and universities and online learning systems. There are many reasons for learning from indigenous knowledge systems. It would be a mistake to read Teaching Truly as an appeal to going back in time, as the lessons to be learned from indigenous cultures are timeless.» (C.A. Bowers, author of the Perspectives on the Ideas of Gregory Bateson, Ecological Intelligence and Educational Reforms, and The Way Forward)

«Four Arrows has brought leading thinking about this vital necessity into this text. We have much to learn from our host First Nations about teaching, thinking, rhythm and curriculum that Four Arrows has concisely captured for all teachers. This book is vital to our collective learning for today and in the future.» (Tom Cooper, author of A Time Before Deception and Fast Media/Media Fast)

«Teaching Truly is an incredible resource for staff in our schools who work with both Native and non-Native students. We will be using it.» (Elliot Washor, Ed.D., Co-director, Big Picture Learning)

«In contrasting Western and Indigenous ways, Four Arrows is hard on the West, but that is because there is so much at stake. Under the circumstances, it is most expedient to take the merits of the Western way as a given and to focus on the imbalances it has created. He is sincere in his proposal that teachers look for ways to partner Western and Indigenous perspectives, and this book explains why and how to do it.» (Robert Lewis (Rafiq), author of Gaj: The End of Religion)

«In Teaching Truly Four Arrows draws a frighteningly accurate map of the known world, and the spiritual and material collapse that’s upon us: death and destruction at the heart of the liberal techno/imperial/capitalist juggernaut. Drawing on ancient and Indigenous ways of being and knowing Four Arrows offers a contemporary guide to what is to be done, and illuminates a path toward a future where schools might play a powerful role in truth-seeking, repair, and renewal for all children, youth, families, and teachers. After an encounter with Four Arrows, I reflected with renewed energy on the urgent questions that drive free people in pursuit of enlightenment and liberation: What are we? Why are we here? Where are we headed? How shall we live? What kind of world can we hope to inhabit? This handbook for teachers is a vibrant and essential text for anyone who wants to understand the broad dimensions of the mess we’re in and pursue a wise and practical pathway forward.» (William Ayers, author of Teaching Toward Freedom, Teaching the Taboo, and To Teach: The Journey in Comics)

«Teaching Truly is a masterful and liberatory book that not only moves between theory and practice but makes teaching a vocation of the highest order. Ever mindful of history and the context of teaching, this beautifully written book deals with the complexity of teaching in a language that is as accessible as it is insightful. This is a book that should be read by all educators and anyone interested in education.» (Henry Giroux, author of Education and the Crisis of Public Values)

«Four Arrows is a combination of a visionary, a dreamer and a truth teller. While he is grounded in the realities of our global situations, and thus moves obstacles and creates better situational realities for the peoples he works with and for, he is motivated by a peaceful truth that radiates from the core of his being. If you are willing to listen and hear what might make you think and feel in an alternative capacity, Four Arrows is the gentle-hearted, educated soul to guide your path.» (Heidi Maston, Editorial Board, International Journal of Science and internationally known distance education consultant)

«Four Arrows has cut to the core in Teaching Truly. Doing more than overcoming the omissions, misinterpretations, and outright fictionalization of our culture, traditions and spirituality that have been taught in American schools, he has put together generalizable teachings for specific subjects in ways that can point education toward achieving a more balanced world.» (Tim Giago, Nanwica Kciji (Stands Up for Them), author of The Aboriginal Sin, Notes from Indian Country, Volumes I and II and Children Left Behind)

«‘Teaching Truly’ is eye opening and vital for all educators engaged in education. This book reflects the needs and ideological limitations of our current educational system, yet also provides practical ways of embracing an Indigenous perspective to truly transform the way our schools operate. Four Arrows and his collaborating authors successfully and accurately address the political, economic, social, and cultural realities of our educational system. They actively engage in a counter-hegemonic project that is necessary, just, powerful and most importantly, revolutionary.» (Jorge F. Rodriguez, Education Review, October 2014)


Critical Praxis and Curriculum Guides. Vol. 3
General Editors: Shirley R. Steinberg and Priya Parmar