Fielding Graduate University News

Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education

Posted by Hilary Edwards on Mon, May 13, 2013
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Fielding Graduate University School of Educational Leadership and Change (ELC) faculty member, Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs) publishes book entitled, Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education.

This is the twenty-first book written by Four Arrows, and Peter Lang Publishers claims Teaching Truly to be a first of its kind for educational publishing. After reviewing Teaching Truly, Noam Chomsky stated:

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.

Teaching Truly offers K-16 course-specific guidelines for helping teachers and students counter-balance mainstream education’s hegemonic influences with indigenous learning precepts. Guest authors contribute to six of the book’s thirteen chapters, one of which is doctoral ELC student and mentee of Four Arrows, Kathryn England-Aytes.

This is not the first Fielding student to have co-authored with Four Arrows. A number of students in Fielding’s neuropsychology program contributed to his book, Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Wisdom and students from all three colleges contributed to his acclaimed text on alternative dissertations, The Authentic Dissertation. When asked about why he asked a student to contribute, Four Arrows replied:

I’m fortunate to be able at this stage of my career to get publishers interested in projects. One of my goals, besides getting people to rethink status-quo perspectives, is to give recognition to the one school that stands for challenging the stats-quo where needed, Fielding Graduate University. Since our students are a big reason for Fielding’s reputation, I love to not only use their expertise but also to give them first opportunities to get published whenever possible. Kathryn’s dissertation work offered a perfect opportunity for an introductory chapter for this book and I’m proud she has joined the more seasoned guest authors on the cover of the book.

As an anarchist educator, Four Arrows solicited a large number of noted critical educators to read and comment on his text. Although he admits that offering suggestions for non-Indian teachers to teach non-Indian students is sensitive and complex undertaking, it is full of opportunities to turn the dire situations facing our world around. It seems that many agree with this approach.

The sampling of reviews below reveals that Four Arrows has touched a nerve in both offering frank criticism of policy, standards and outcomes in mainstream education while offering a counter-balancing solution that can be used in complementary ways to existing curriculum for those teachers who dare:

Penetrating, fearless and practical, this book offers educators (and anyone else with an interest in our future) a way to create a better world—before it is too late!—Thom Hartmann

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

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

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

In this provocative new book, Four Arrows takes a principled stand on behalf of 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

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

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

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

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)

To order a copy of Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education go to All profits from this book will go to worthy American Indian educational associations and foundations.

Listen to Four Arrows radio interview on the Kevin Barret show:

Contact: Four Arrows, aka Don Trent Jacobs, PhD, EdD,


Tags: educational leadership, diversity, multicultural, fielding graduate university, learning