“Could you be the teacher now?” - Sámi youth’s experiences with education about Sápmi in Norwegian schools
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This thesis explores how Sámi students following the Norwegian educational programme in school have experienced the education about Sápmi. The Norwegian education system has played a key role in the colonisation of Sápmi, which has had a devastating effect on Sámi communities and culture. At the same time, the education system is today commonly thought to be a core institution in the process of recognition and gaining equality for the Sámi population within Norway. The empirical material of this thesis is based on five semi-structured qualitative group interviews of 13 young adults who identify as Sámi. Through the group interviews, the participants look back at their schooling between 1st and 13th grade to reflect on their perspectives of the education and their experiences of being Sámi in the classroom during the lessons. The participants’ dominating stories are experiences of teaching that is insufficient, distant, and stereotypical. Sápmi tends to be reduced in size, diversity, and relevance, while teaching about colonisation and contemporary structural oppression has been vague, avoiding, or non-existent. Some counter-stories of good experiences exist, but they are due to the effort of individual teachers and not representative for any of the participants’ overall schooling experience. A direct link between the teaching content and the students’ position in the classroom is drawn by the research participants. Stereotypes in the education led to an increase of micro aggressions, bullying and harassment during and after the lessons. Some research participants had experiences of erasure of the Sáminess in the classroom, while other participants had experienced being assumed to be a knowledge-holder, and sometimes even given the responsibility for the teaching. This master thesis uses critical pedagogy and postcolonialism as theoretical lenses to understand the education from a marginalised point of view. With theoretical frameworks from post-colonial and indigenous scholars, colonial narratives in school as well as marginalisation happening in school are made visible through the stories of the research participants. Like Sápmi is being Othered through the narratives, Sámi students experience Othering and structural oppression by teachers and classmates through the lessons.