Subjects taught in Micronesian Schools.

I attended a private school on the island of Pohnpei so I cannot speak for other schools. However, based on my experience, I am curious as to WHY the schools teach Western history and culture to students to a greater extent than to teach our own MICRONESIAN history and culture?

Comments

  • Kaselehlie Micro691,

    Thank you for your question; I work for the Pohnpei Department of Education. On this page--http://pohnpei.doe.fm/index.php/public-info/news-and-updates/124-teacher-resources --you can download the Social Studies curriculum and scope and sequence for Pohnpei State.

    It's possible that your private school included more Western history and culture than Pohnpei history and culture because no private school follows the Pohnpei State curriculum. CCA or Saint Paul use the ABEKA Book Curriculum, for example, or Our Lady of Mercy uses the National Curriculum as a framework for its own scope and sequence.

    In terms of Pohnpei public school curricula, it's actually almost a complete reversal of your question and expectation: we have such a large amount of Pohnpei-specific and Pacific-specific material in our curricula that we do not, for example, expect children to be able to discuss, on any level, ancient world history e.g. The Indus River Valley Civilization, Sumer, what is cuneiform?, Egypt, etc., or relatively recent world history e.g. What is Germany, what was the Holocaust? and Who was Adolf Hitler?

    I invite you to read the 4th Grade Social Studies scope and sequence for Pohnpei public schools, as noted in the link above, so you can see just how often Pohnpei comes up in our curricula. Some grades have more Pohnpei-specific content than others, but it's always the majority of content. (Bizarrely, much of our Social Studies curricula includes repetition with Science benchmarks, particularly with regards to issues such as climate change.)

    Dr. Richard Womack, a well-known and respected professor at COM-FSM until his retirement last year, has been contracted by Pohnpei Department of Education to help us in writing Social Studies textbooks. He finished the 8th grade text some months ago and is presently writing the 7th grade text. The Department will edit the 8th grade text before we print it, but if you'd like to review the content please feel free to send me a message or come by the Pohnpei DOE office across from PICS Field. The content is almost exclusively Pohnpei and Micronesia-focused.

    We've also developed a Pohnpei Studies curriculum, which we're hoping will become our 5th core subject for public school students. The gentleman primarily in charge of developing this is Nelsin Iriarte, who has the title Nahnapas Nett. He was recently elected to become the administrator for Nett District Government. His email is niriarte @ pohnpeidoe.fm and mine is rclark @ pohnpeidoe.fm

    I hope you've found my response satisfying. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do to address your question.

    Ni wahu,

    -Richard Clark

    P.S. Did you know that the Pohnpei Department of Education has a newsletter? Send me an email or a private message if you'd like to subscribe to it.
  • RichardAndrewClark, based on your comments above, it appears that Pohnpei public schools do not teach any WORLD history. Is that true? I welcome your response and your views.
  • Kaselehlie FactsMatter,

    There is a degree of World History at the high school level (e.g. if you ask a Junior at PICS what they're taking, they'll almost certainly tell you "World Cultures") and there are some broader Social Studies concepts as well, but the elementary level starts off very Pohnpei-specific and then expands to the FSM. There isn't zero world history in our curriculum, but there is very little of it. My professional opinion is that, while it's good that the Pohnpei State curriculum include--and even focus on--Pohnpeian and FSM history, any student benefits from knowing about other civilizations and societies and their histories.

    Allow me to quickly take a few snapshots of our 8th grade scope and sequence, and paste it below, with comments underneath each image. (You can also download the scope and sequence from the Department's website). In the interest of transparency, and also fairness, I should tell you that the 8th grade scope and sequence focuses the least on history--by contrast, the 7th grade scope and sequence focuses the most on it. (The textbook for 7th grade social studies is Pacific Neighbors, which talks about FSM, Palau, Guam, CNMI, etc.)

    image

    The first several weeks in the first quarter of 8th grade focus on cultural themes, mostly as they apply to the FSM.

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    The rest of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter focus more on the physical geography of the FSM, with a particular emphasis on climate change. The discussion in 8th grade is broadly FSM-focused, so there is a lot of discussion on Yap, Chuuk, and Kosrae in addition to Pohnpei, and in practice (e.g. since every school has a textbook shortage, and the textbooks we do have are not necessarily aligned to our curriculum) this includes other places in the Pacific, too, such as Guam, Kiribati, or Nauru.

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    The rest of the second quarter--where we are now, in early December 2017--is concerned with our 3rd Standard in Social Studies, "Human Systems and the Environment", so there's a lot of discussion on governmental policies, and how the environment and economy are intertwined in an FSM-context.

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    The first several weeks in the third quarter focus on history, with an emphasis on history in the FSM and the Pacific.

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    The rest of the third quarter will discuss economics, including the kinds of economic decisions people make on an individual level, a familial level, a state-level, and a societal-level, but still with local emphasis on Pohnpei and FSM. Fourth quarter will take us into civics.

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    The weeks on civics in 8th grade are not necessarily Pohnpei-specific, especially when discussing various forms of government. (I trust that you like fun facts, and so a word that may appreciate knowing is kakistocracy, which literally means government by the worst citizens.)

    As you can see, FactsMatter and Micro691, while our Pohnpei State curriculum is not completely void of world history, it is currently heavily focused on Pohnpei and the FSM. It's my professional opinion that we could--perhaps should--include a bit more world history into our curriculum.

    It's worth our students exploring, for example, that one of the main reasons foreigners brought smallpox to Kosrae--but there was no Kosrae Plague, or Kosrae Pox, that killed the foreigners--is that many foreigners lived in densely populated cities, with little sanitation control. But why did foreigners, Europeans in particular, live in cities? This conversation could easily take us into the domestication of animals, e.g. the only domesticated animal in the Americas is the llama, but in Europe they domesticated animals like the cow (originally from Africa) and the horse (originally from Asia), and by having beasts of burden societies were able to produce exponentially more food, which lead to more people being allowed to specialize their work, which lead to more people exchanging debt using currency, etc. Among other things, this lead to societies wanting, and benefiting from, resources external to their country (e.g. a desire for, and capacity to acquire, spice), which in turn lead to exploration, trade deals, war, and colonialism, including the colonialism of our islands. I would love for our Pohnpeian children to make these kinds of connections.
  • Richardclark.. why not donate those 200 laptops given to teacher to the students who got honors so they can become a good investment in the future for our depending on Compact money from USA country, might as well so we can deal with our economy instead of learning other problems in the world....peace!
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