Teaching Scientific Inquiry and the Winnebago Indian Language (Wisconsin)
Abstract: The Analytic Paper proposes a learning concept which focuses on a curriculum of ten lessons in Winnebago Grammar with the following two purposes: 1. that of providing a model which could be used to give a local language, such as Winnebago, a position of importance and integrity in the education of members of the local community, and 2. that of providing a model according to which the grammar of a language can be used to give students experience in rational inquiry.
Section 1 of the paper gives the rationale for this concept of learning which includes discussions of the Winnebago, my motivation for the study and the status of Indian languages today. This includes a discussion of literature on the methods of rational inquiry and discovery as an approach to learning. Section 2 enumerates the objectives of the ten lessons. Section 3 gives a description and an analysis of field testing of selections from the lessons with elementary school students in a school near Winnebago Indian community. Section 4 describes a proposal for teacher training. Section 5 contains the ten illustrative lessons. The lessons are in the form of student-teacher dialogues in which problems of Winnebago grammar appearing in short conversational texts are learned by the students and discussed. This mode of presentation was chosen to illustrate how students will discover for themselves the principles of Winnebago grammar. This gives students opportunity to enter into rational inquiry and hypothesis formation.
The curriculum represents original research on the Winnebago Indian language which was completed at Harvard with the careful guidance of a linguist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who assisted me in looking at my native language. The lessons do not represent a comprehensive study of the language, but they do represent significant inquiry and research into the language. It is also significant that the research process used to examine the
data of the language exemplifies the methodology proposed for this learning concept.