Palauan House: Curriculum Revision as a Vessel for Sustaining Palauan Lifeways

de Jong, Elizabeth
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Culture is a living entity that continuously adapts to change. It may be observed through what is considered the “ordinary”. House, education and work are inextricably intertwined in ordinary daily life. House, the building, provides shelter, one of human beings most basic physiological needs. House is a safe environment where culture may be nurtured. It is precisely because house is ordinary that it is such an important social element within culture. Sustaining a culture requires absorption of nutrients which enable it to continue evolving, whereas preserving a culture freezes it at a particular point in time. In this document, the work practices, learning methods and cultural norms of traditional Palau, frozen in time through written and pictorial form, are identified and explored. The journey of changes in work and education though colonization by different colonial administrations is tracked. Many dualities exist within Palauan culture. These dualities within the culture are duplexities rather than dichotomies. They operate and co-operate both simultaneously or independently to balance and counterbalance each other. Traditional education in Palau amalgamated theoretical knowledge with practical skills. Unfortunately, with contemporary education, people have been encultured to believe that college prepares them for work. Many majors divorce theory from pragmatic utilitarian knowledge and skills, and then have substantial, both lengthy and rigorous, intern requirements after graduation/commencement prior to certification. The challenge for education in Palau is to create duplexity from this duality. The mission for education in Palau is to understand how cultural practices influence students, and how traditional Palauan education strategies may be effectively integrated into the current educational programs and curricula to help nurture and sustain Palauan culture. This document studies the proposed Architectural Drafting Program at Palau Community College to consider how it may be improved to enable student to sustain their social and cultural community commitments.
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