Noisy Children in Classroom Music to Teachers’ Ears

BRENTWOOD, B.C. (CP)

A steadily rising noise level was a measure of success for a four-week summer course for Indian children at Tsartlip school, near this community 15 miles north of Victoria.

   The sound of voices was music to the ears of the three teachers and six teen-age volunteers working on the program, because the first day the children did not make a sound, one teacher said.

   About 50 children participated in the program designed to accustom pre-schoolers, and some school-age children who have been doing poorly, to a classroom, to get them talking and playing.

   The course was organized by Tom Sampson, administrator of the Tsartlip Indian band and Dr. Charles G. Galloway, assistant professor of education at the University of Victoria.

   “The stereotype of the passive, failing Indian child isn’t true.” says Dr. Galloway.  “When there is a chance they can succeed, they will compete like crazy. They’re very aggressive.”

   The youngsters were encouraged to speak in sentences instead of giving single-word answers or pointing. A tape recorder was found to be the best way of encouraging speech.  Lured by the fascination of hearing themselves speak, the children learned to operate the machine themselves.

   Highlights of the program were videotaped for the benefit of student teachers at the university in the hope that they will have a better attitude toward teaching Indians, Dr. Galloway said.

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