FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

Wisdom You can go back hundreds of years and see plenty of examples where we don’t consider local customs and proven methods that others know to work best for their needs. Ben Franklin shared a story of Native Americans who were offered the opportunity to send six of their youth to a college in Williamsburg, Virginia, to be instructed in “all of the learning of the white people”. They thoughtfully considered it, assumed the intentions were good, and thanked them for the opportunity when responding: “But you who are wise must know, that different Nations have different Conceptions of Things, and you will therefore not take it amiss if our Ideas of this kind of Education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some Experience of it: Several of our young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your Sciences; but when they came back to us they were bad Runners ignorant of every means of living in the Woods, unable to bear either Cold or Hunger, knew neither how to build a Cabin, take a Deer or kill an Enemy, spoke our Language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for Hunters Warriors, or Counsellors, they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less oblig’d by your kind Offer tho’ we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful Sense of it, if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take great Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.” 3 How much has really changed in the 250 years since this was written? The Native Americans validated their wisdom with practice-based evidence. Today we would say these are not eligible for the evidence-based clearinghouse, or we’d have to consider them as a promising practice. The argument here is not that there is no value for evidence-based practices (EBP) for higher acuity challenges; it is the lack of balance of proactive, common sense, and universal responses we all know work. You know, the things you want for your own family.

Do funding streams support it? Why not? It’s a question you have to sit with. There’s an ongoing implied statement that the pre- defined solution is what is needed, not the solution the person believes they need for themselves. We’re over-reliant on the academic models of effecting change and undervaluing and undercutting the power of the individual. We’ve forgotten so many of the customs, practices, and proven ways that families have shown to be able to address their own needs in very simple ways, and we’re putting a greater onus of responsibility on the government to regulate the needs of individuals; the same way an agency can never give the level of attention to a child that a family can, the government can never give the kind of response to a community than its citizens are able to do and that the so much of the natural world can provide if we simply provide the financial means and create an environment for change. In ‘The Ecology of Human Development’, Urie Bronfenbrenner, the co-founder of the Head Start movement in America, looked back and remembered his early education and considered a statement from his professor during his training in the U.S.S.R. He heard, “It seems to me that American researchers are constantly seeking to explain how the child came to be what he is, we in the U.S.S.R. are striving to discover not how the child came to be what he is, but how he can become what he not yet is.” 4 If we’re interested in the idea of cultural competence, we should celebrate diversity and recognize the vision parents have for what is possible for their children is not in a foreign community but rather in their existing one. Monica’s Story There is tremendous insight and wisdom when we take the time to listen to those deep in the struggle: we don’t know better. I sat with a woman we will call Monica recently who is currently receiving family services through ______________ 3 Franklin, Benjamin. “Remarks concerning the Savages of North-America” Passy, 1784. Library of Congress. American Philosophical Society. https://founders. 4 Bronfenbrenner, Urie. The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design , Harvard University Press, 1981, 40.

FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 93

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