I’m involved at my school with the Maori Ora project carried out in collaboration with Poutama Pounamu, University of Waikato.
Recently, as part of this project, I carried out Rongohia te Hau lesson observations with others at my school. This was a brilliant opportunity observing whole school teaching and to reflect on how culturally responsive lessons were. I strongly recommend you try it if you haven’t already done so. Our team discovered that we are not failing to be culturally responsive, but there is still a heck of a lot more that we could be doing as a school.
Many classrooms have Maori iconography and we did notice that elements of Maori Ora were occurring. Having visited a number of schools in Auckland last month this seemed to be unusual (!) The goal should be to move from what could be a typical classroom in any industrialised country to being one that is recognisably NZ, with 50% Maori. We are not there yet, even though some schools appear to have nothing.
In the UK I learned to always seat students in alphabetical order. Then, once I had learned the names of my students I would sort int groupings based on ability. Sitting in friendship groupings was something not to be encouraged. Now, however, whenever possible I allow students to sit in friendship groupings. Teaching with rows of desks is also something I rarely do (following my experience with Kia Eke Panuku). In my school, however, there are still plenty of classes where the ‘traditional’ way of teaching in lines still occurs as a norm.
As part of the Maori Ora group, I have been very excited to be able to contribute to the working party. The image below shows some of the ideas that we concluded we need to focus on; general goals to achieve by 2020.
The Maori Ora model we are following focusses on the three areas (in red on the diagram) and makes us look at what we are doing through ako (critical context through change. These being:
- Home, School and community collaborations
- Cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy
- Adaptive expertise driving deliberate professional acts
Of course, this does not mean that my school is not doing any of these things. However, there are areas which could be improved upon. For example, back in the UK to teach in Wales you must be able to speak Welsh. Wouldn’t it be great if all staff could speak Te Reo Maori?. Of course, there are a lot of hurdles present before that could happen. I (currently) only speak English and I’m endeavouring to learn Te Reo Maori, but can currently muster only a few words or phrases. But if everyone had this as a goal, it would strengthen Te Reo Maori as a language and give an insight into Maori culture. A language isn’t just using different words, after all, but an insight; a different way of thinking.
Within my subject area we have started introducing Maori contexts to the curriculum. This is particularly true of the junior curriculum. However, there is still a lot to be done. Plus there is an element of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ at work here. It’s difficult to introduce cultural elements if you are not aware of them in the first place (note to self- maybe engage with the local iwi and get them to suggest the elements that fit?).
As in my last post, one of the things that needs to change is the mindset of staff. In the 1970s Maori culture was, in effect, forced into hiding at school. Everyone had to follow the Pakeha way of doing things, the industrial school model. Now we have the opportunity to ensure that Maori culture is integrated fully into the classroom and to ensure that all students reach their full potential, regardless of their cultural background.
Ultimately, If you don’t like it, you’re in the wrong profession, I’m afraid.
Ako: critical contexts for change (2017). [ebook] Tauranga: The University of Waikato. Available at: https://poutamapounamu.org.nz/resources/publications [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Adaptive expertise driving deliberate professional acts. (2017). [pdf] Tauranga: The University of Waikato. Available at: https://poutamapounamu.org.nz/resources/publications [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy. (2017). [pdf] Tauranga: The University of Waikato. Available at: https://poutamapounamu.org.nz/resources/publications [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].
Home, school and community collaborations (2017). [pdf] Tauranga: The University of Waikato. Available at: https://poutamapounamu.org.nz/resources/publications [Accessed 3 Oct. 2017].