Nau mai

Nau mai haere mai ki tēnei wāhi whiri kōrero e pā ana ki ngā moehewa a ngā ākonga Māori i roto i ngā tūmomo kura o Aotearoa.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Thinking Ahead - What's Your Future or Mine?

The School in the Cloud - a very forward thinking, reality focussed concept by Sugata Mitra.  Sugata has shared his thoughts widely and recently won the presenters award for TED Talks, a highly recognised achievement.

Inspiration in the cloud.
As I watched his videos, and the many Indian, Italian, English and children from other ethnicities, I thought about our own learners here in Aotearoa.   In a nutshell Sugata placed fixed computers in the lowest decile areas of these countries, where schools often didn't even exist.   He gifted them to the children and then left them to it.  The results were amazing, these are children who had no formal schooling, who had no prior experience of computers, who could not speak English!

Whilst the majority of our NZ learners attend school...are they all learning? Do we do them a disservice? Surely, we have a world class education system in place...don't we?
Why then the focus on priority learners, Māori, Pacific island and Special Education students?
Perhaps we should stop congratulating ourselves on what we do well, and begin to understand what we don't do well.

Where's the man in my life who will place computers in the poorest communities, and expect no payback?  Who does it for the joy of watching children teach themselves, learn what they want to learn, figure it out themselves.
We need to understand that children will learn what they want to learn, with or without a teacher.

Think about all those "naughty, dysfunctional, poverty stricken, under performing, underserved...." children out there. There's a whole world that they understand that I would be a better person for knowing about.

There's a clear message here....if children learn despite the environment....learn to do what they want to do or know...are they getting value from attending school?   Are we outdated?   Food for thought.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Looking Back Over 2013

Titiro whakamuri kia anga whakamua.  Look into the past to determine the future.
Another soundly grounded whakatauaki, grounded in our history and grounded in common sense.  Our tūpuna were clever people.

As I think about what we have achieved in 2013, as a result of PLD focused on priority learners, I congratulate the Minister and her colleagues for pushing the discrepancies in Māori achievement to the forefront.   A move that was long overdue.  I encourage her to keep the focus on all these priority learners for many more years.  When one learns a language with a will to fluency, it is commonly accepted that the majority language has to take a back seat while the minority language catches up. This doesn't mean the majority language ceases to exist, not at all. But the focus is on the other for a sustained period.  This is what we need to be doing in our schools, focus on priority learners. Do not ignore the others, but keep the pressure on getting it right for these minority groups of NZ children.

For teachers, this means concentrated and serious reflection on your own practice.  Read the data, identify the discrepancies, and change your practice accordingly.  Every child has a right to be well grounded in their own language, culture and identity.  We call it culturally responsive practice, but actually I think its just common sense...if the students are not succeeding, then there's only two important questions to be asked.  "Why?"  and  "How can I improve this?"

Whānau might notice a move from schools who really want to engage with them.  Yes they still want sausages for a hangi, or a car for a field trip....but there's something else going on too.  They also want to share the kids learning, ask questions and help whānau to help their children at home.  I love it!  At the school where my mokopuna attend, there has been an acknowledgement that whānau is not just Mum and Dad, and that there are others in the whānau who hold knowledge and understandings that will benefit all learners.

And iwi?  Aroha ki a rātou.  As there is pressure on schools to engage with iwi, there's also pressure on iwi to engage with schools.  But how do they do that?  Who holds the money that allows iwi to put a representative on the road, to meet the needs of school engagement? Not iwi.  It's really rather complex, one partner doesn't have the time or the know how, the other partner doesn't have the capacity or resource!  I wonder how it would be if a cluster of schools got together and funded a position, held in the iwi, to be that resource.  Makes sense to me.

In 2013 there's been some great learning going on in PLD, excellent attempts by schools to engage with whānau, and excitement from whānau to be part of their children's learning.
How does that look in the communities beyond the school gate.  Are the kids well fed and dressed? Have health statistics improved? Are numbers in jails reducing? Employment up? Domestic violence down?
How long's a piece of string?

What's great about 2013 that we can build on in 2014 to affect positive change for all Kiwis!

Mauriora ki a tātou.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Iwi in Education?  A Reality or a Dream?

I wonder how many iwi have been asked whether they want to be partners in education?  Perhaps someone has just presumed they want to, or should do, and therefore created a “partnership” thrust through school, by which teachers must adhere?   Ko te kai a te rangatira he kōrero?

NZC openly encourages  schools to engage with  families, whānau and communities.  TMOA encourages engagement between te kura, te whānau, te hapū, te iwi me te hapori  of the student.  Where’s the bit that emphasises what iwi want?  What iwi stand to gain by working alongside schools. Is there a partnership?  Koha mai, koha atu?

Why do schools find it difficult to engage with iwi?  Some schools don’t know where to start looking.  What about schools who are located in really pan tribal areas?  What should they do? 

My perception is that not all iwi see education as a priority,  many individuals in  iwi have gained very little from education, from schools, and  have limited or no experience at tertiary level.  Why would they want to re-engage in a system that continues to fail their mokopuna, as it did them. 

I also see other iwi who do want to engage, but don’t know how, or what that engagement might look like.  They can hardly just turn up at a range of schools and knock on the door.

There’s presently a big focus on lifting achievement for priority learners in all sectors.  Ka pai.   And a strong suggestion that schools should “engage” with iwi and communities of Māori learners.  Ka pai hoki.  But how do we do this?  Who’s got the missing piece of the puzzle?

Schools want and need iwi participation, iwi want and need high standards of achievement for their children, but for many the two are miles part. 

Who’s calling the shots?  Who’s controlling the resource?  Who has the aspiration? Is it a reality in the present parameters?
Nā tō rourou, nā tāku rourou, ka ora te iwi?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Ako-e i Roto i te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Kua noho tahi mātou ko ngā kaiako Māori huri noa i te motu, mō ngā rā e 4, ā, whai haere ana i ngā āhuatanga o te ako-e.  Miharo!   E koropupū ana te matangareka o tēnā, o tēnā.  Mauriora!

Let's not let the very small, screwed up element of society, destroy the joy of e-learning in the akomanga.
Āe, kāore e kore he nanakia, he tinihanga e whakamokamoka ana i ngā maru.  Engari ko aua tāngata he ruarua noa iho.  Inā ka tino māramatia ngā uara e whārikitia ana i ngā wheako, i ngā whanonga,   tēnā ka iti haere te mōrearea.
Absolutely there's  some oddballs lurking in the online spaces and both teachers and children need to understand how they can reduce the risks associated with being in the virtual space.

If our tamariki apply the same values we practice in the classroom and in the whānau, to the virtual space, the same principles apply.  Ki te mōhio ngā tamariki me pēhea te whakatinanatanga o te aroha ki te tangata, kore rawa ngā tamariki e whakaiti, e ngau tuara, e whakamamae i tētahi atu.

Helping students understand how privacy settings work, and what they actually mean, will reduce some of the anxieties we adults have of  children potentially being "stalked" online.

When they understand that a post remains for ever more,  the need to think more carefully about what they post, and especially in regards to other people, becomes clearer.

My 10 year old granddaughter has just talked her mother into allowing her a FB page.  When I went down the "online responsibility" and "digital citizenship" track...she laughed and said "Mum's just finished talking about that."  She knows that she cannot befriend anyone without asking Mum first.
But I will be watching, as will her mother and aunties.

There are so many learning opportunities in the digital world - our role as educators is to help students be competent, capable, inquisitive and safe in this space.  Kia kaha rā tātou.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Whakatauki - Are They Worth the Paper they're Written On?

Actually, they weren't originally written on paper!  Whakatauki - they've just been out there forever!
Commonly known as proverbs, to me they are more than just that.  They define the way we are, the way we behave and in fact are a really good reflective thinking tool for Māori.

We use whakatauki a lot in everyday thinking and being, in presentations and public speaking.
Not to give a "Māori flavour" to the presentation, but rather to give a contemporary context to the words our ancestors used.

Some are heard often, and that's probably about the context in which you work, the people you engage with and the purpose of the discussion.  Many have similar meanings, many are open to interpretation, and some only make sense in the context in which they were originally used.

For teachers who work with Māori learners, and are striving to build an effective relationship with the whānau of those students, let's look at one that I use often, and how these are unpacked to underpin relationships with others.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.  What is the most important thing in the world? Its people, people, people.

How true is that?  Without people we have no world, without whānau we have no joy in our lives.
People first, middle and last.
People before process, before money, before personal self-gratification.

The connections between people.

If you have a need to engage actively with the whānau of your school, then put the needs, lifestyles, circumstances, hopes and aspirations of the people before your need to tick a box, or comply with a curriculum guideline.  When you put others first, it means your needs come last.

This might mean thinking outside of your square box, changing the way you normally do things, challenging the norm.  Think about

  • the purpose of the engagement
  • where and when the meetings should take place
  • how to ensure that the whānau, not just the caregivers, are informed
  • the protocols of the meeting, how it will  be conducted and by whom
  • your hospitality skills and your facilitation skills
  • the way you talk with (not at) others

The square box practice of calling a whānau meeting, then waiting for 4 people to turn up, does not work.   Why do it the same way?

Enough for today, tomorrow I'll share another whakatauki that reminds us about the power of the collective thoughts.  Mauri ora.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Challenging the Status Quo

At different conferences over the last few years I have shared my version of de Bono's thinking hats with teachers.  Why?  What's my version?

Many years ago when I was a student, I met the concept of de Bono's hats in my lectures, and again as a young teacher.  What struck me at the time was the black hat, and all the negative connotations that were associated with it.  Why can't this happen? What are the disadvantages of doing it like this?  Risks? and so on and so forth.  I never really got past that association of black being negative.

A few years ago I saw a kura kaupapa teacher using de Bono's hats in her classroom, de Bono's original hats, black included.  It got me thinking.

Blue sky thinking....Ranginui

Red thinking, fire and intuition, passion and tempers......Māhuika

Green for sustainability, logic and reason..........Papatūānuku

Yellow for positive ideas, warm fuzzy thoughts...........Tama Nui i te Rā. (Reminded me of the old people sitting in the early morning sun on the pae)

White, clear, factual, unambiguous.......Te Ikaroa

Black....not critical, negative, or risky but......... Te Pō the beginning of all potential.

The wisdom or validity of theories such as Eduard de Bono's are not in question here.  What is in question is the way that these are being used in NZ classrooms.  How difficult is it to contextualise a theory into a world that Māori learners understand?  In the examples above, nothing is lost about the  thinking de Bono espouses, but rather it has gained a context where Māori can see themselves, their beliefs and key concepts.  And, equally importantly, when explained to whānau, they too get a clear grasp of what's happening n the classroom, and are better able to support their childrens' learning.

It's not rocket science, every theory and every practice has an indigenous viewpoint.  Rapua kia mārama ai.
With Dr Eduard de Bono, International Conference on Thinking 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Kua Hinga te Tōtara i te Waonui a Tāne.

E te rangatira, haere atu rā ki tō okiokinga mutunga, haere rā i runga i te aroha o ōu hoa, hoa mahi, whānaunga, mātou katoa e tangi ana mōu.  Kua huri te kei o tōu waka e Vince.

As I think about our dear and well respected friend and colleague, Dr Vince Ham, who passed this morning after a final battle with cancer,  I think about the man I knew and looked up.
Vince was never about Vince, he was always about others.  His whānau, his colleagues, his friends and the many many teachers and children in our schools.

A man of vision and passion, vision for others, passion for education, commitment to ongoing learning, that was Vince.

Sometimes inspiration alludes me, but Vince was and will continue to be an inspiration.  Like a conscience, challenging and inspiring us to "get it right," do the best possible for others, and believe in self and purpose.

I believe in kids, in teachers and in schools.  I know there should never be any half measures.  In particular I believe that quality education is the way forward for all indigenous people.  People dispossessed of land, of rights, of culture, of language and of identity.  People living in poverty around the world, wondering what the heck happened.

But some things can never be taken away from us, they lie dormant waiting for someone to pick them up and revive them.    Sure money and a good life style helps, but the future lies in our hands, only ours.    Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini kē.   My strength is not mine alone, but that of us all.  

Ka pū te ruha ka hao te rangatahi.  Rest well dear Vince, your legacy, your passion, your drive continues.