The Influence of American Indian Story-telling on the Character and Ecological Awareness of Participating Non-Indian Children and their Parents, Sara Garcia
Story telling has been a part of inter-generational teaching and learning in all cultures. This is especially true as relates to Indigenous Peoples whose stories reflect on the unique relationships between place, human and non-human entities, and virtues that emphasize respect, courage, generosity, humility and integrity. For thousands of years, their intergenerational use of stories has contributed to societies who continue to realize that everything is connected and that forgetting this truth is always a risk. This dissertation is a preliminary exploration about how American Indian stories and the sharing of them between non-Indian parents and their children might contribute to sustaining this realization. Specifically, it seeks to determine what improvements in character and ecological awareness for both parent and child might happen after six sessions of reading and engaging in meaningful dialogue. Using a total of 48 in-depth interviews for four parent-child couples that follow after each of the six different reading events, results indicate that positive changes in both parents and children occurred as relate to both the expression of virtuous attitudes and behaviors as well as to an increase in ecological awareness. In spite of the limitations and multiple variables that make it only an introductory work for inspiring future research and applications, this study nonetheless reveals the potential for a partnership between character education and ecological awareness education. It also demonstrates that when parents, children and teachers engage in studying the values of morals buried in traditional Indigenous stories there may be an increased opportunity for both educational goals to be achieved. The author hopes that this study might help contribute to educational strategies for bringing forth a more peaceful and sustainable environment for all.