Dude, What’s Up With the Alaskans?

The Baltimore Sun characterizes the four rogue states who are not on board with national standards, tantalizingly, as “more conservative.” True? Not true? How true? I shot an email this morning to Alaskan longtime amazing educator Doug Noon, blogging at the New York Times and Borderland. He writes this in response:

There’s a sentiment in Alaska – people say this – we don’t give a damn how they do it Outside. If you’ve read John McPhee’s Coming Into the Country you’d know that ‘Outside’ is anywhere other than Here. It’s provincialism, pure and simple. But in a place populated by a rag-tag assortment of transplanted end-of-the-roaders and a loose confederation of indigenous people who’ve endured a long, sad (and continuing!) colonial experience, the one thing we can agree on is that we won’t agree on much. Seriously,  the practical challenges of daily living encourage duct-tape innovations, and we’re skeptical about any set of ready-made solutions.

Provincialism may be in play, but it also strikes me as, potentially, an authentic return to the real meaning of conservatism. Not something I subscribe to 100% of the time, but nevertheless– a necessary corrective to the bandwagon feel of national standards? I’m not prepared to say no.

3 thoughts on “Dude, What’s Up With the Alaskans?

  1. You got it, Dina. And since Joe left a link to the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, I’ll take this opportunity to point out that while we have a set of state standards, we also have cultural standards to work with. There’s no shortage of standards here.

    I’ll have more to say about all this when I have a longer moment to write about it. Thanks for your interest. -Doug

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