Sunday, 30 September 2018

Tikanga

I have just finished reading “Changing the default setting: Making trouble to restore tikanga” by Ani Mikaere, a thought provoking article that highlights how colonial constructs have been superimposed over traditional tikanga practices over time, driven these to be used on the marae only and the powerful role that Christianity has had over tikanga as well, normalising concepts of dominance and subservience.
Dare I say that these practices continue in some of our early childhood centres and schools today. I was in a centre recently where there is strong Maori kaupapa but also practices that reflect past Western practices around compliance and dominance by the adults, lining up in rows according to gender, following instructions given by adults when eating with little thought about how this leads to life long learning or how these practices could be challenged in light of the rest of the curriculum.
Or am I wrong here? This could well be part of inquiry within appraisal as kaiako unpack their practice under the Standards, there is scope to challenge practice and the difference between compliance and self regulation that can be strengthened in a whanau setting where collaboration and thoughtful discussion with the underlying concept of 'ako' underpinning interactions. As Ani says “The net of kāwanatanga—of Pākehā law, of Western philosophy, of values that threaten the very core of our Māoriness—has indeed been cast wide. We cannot afford to ignore the degree to which we have become enmeshed within its strands. We need to be honest with ourselves about the extent to which tikanga has been caught up in the stranglehold of the colonising agenda. Then, and only
then, might tikanga be liberated to achieve its limitless potential.

[In Te Whāriki] children are valued as active learners who choose, plan, and
challenge. This stimulates a climate of reciprocity, ‘listening’ to children (even if
they cannot speak), observing how their feelings, curiosity, interest, and knowledge
are engaged in their early childhood environments, and encouraging them to make
a contribution to their own learning.
Smith (2007)

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa. The Child – the Heart of the Matter

Today when I visited a centre where children from mixed ages were able to play together I reflected on the joy of two brothers who were able to be together when they wanted to be and the teina had the emotional support of knowing his ‘big bro’ was there and the tuakana was happy to see his brother content. Good for the soul, for their wairua and mauri. Comforting for the whanau as well. I was reminded of my own grandchildren several years ago attending childcare. Their Mum who is Maori, and myself both wanted the same thing, to have all three siblings being able to be together, the youngest was a baby and the oldest would have been just over three years old. The distress that would have been felt by any one of these children if they had been apart was something we wouldn’t accept. We found a centre where children could mix from birth to school age and the values had been thought through deeply by Management and kaiako.

Fast forward several years and another grandchild, also with a Maori Mum, looking for key teaching so that the rhythms of her child would determine her care as opposed to the routines of the day that are often in place to meet the needs of the teaching staff. Needless to say she is back at the same centre where ERO has also recognised strong pedagogy and they have had a four year return.

It is up to each and every one of us to ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi underpins our practice and this means that having a bicultural curriculum also means ensuring that values play an important role in our practice and our documentation. Te Whatu Pokeka, p,19 states; ‘The child is part of the whānau and the whānau is part of the child. One cannot be separated from the other. The child learns within the context of whānau, which is a real-life context. It is not a socially contrived environment such as the early childhood service. Learning occurs first in the whānau and it is the whānau that determines the learning that is valued’.

Keeping siblings together is an example of whanaungatanga or connectedness and Manaakitanga: Caring, sharing, displaying kindness, supporting others, ‘being a friend’ and reflect aroha in it’s true sense and as we weave Our Standards through our practice and our appraisal we can explore deeply and widely our assumptions and beliefs about practice. When we think about sociocultural practice where children learn within their families and community they are not separated so in centres where age groups are separated is there allowances made for when a child needs comfort from a sibling?

“Attitudes held by early childhood education teachers towards te reo Māori me ōna tikanga and the valuing of Mäori culture in their daily practices vary considerably (Ritchie, 2005). Attitudinal challenges driving implementation challenges stem from a combination of factors occurring at the individual educator level, including: a lack of knowledge of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Ritchie, 2002); hyper-sensitivity about levels of personal cultural competency (Ritchie, 2005); the reluctance to speak te reo Māori for fear of giving offence; and the entrenchment of outdated recolonising and universalist thinking about child development that fails to take account of sociocultural influences and the political nature of early childhood education (Education Review Office, 2010). This combination leads to a level of superficiality in the application of te reo Mäori me ōna tikanga and Māori pedagogies in the early childhood education sector and, in some cases, the rendering of Māori language and culture as invisible and irrelevant “(Rameka, 2003). Ngä taonga whakaako: Bicultural competence in early childhood education • November 2011 Pg 31

He whāriki hei whakamana i te mokopuna, hei kawe i ngā wawata

A whāriki that empowers the child and carries our aspirations

Te Whāriki reminds us that weaving our whāriki takes time, skill and knowledge and a child is a whāriki as well ‘work in progress’. As we work in our teams with tamariki and whanau we will be questioning practice and understanding what our practices may be doing for tinana (body), hinengaro (mind), wairua (spirit) and whatumanawa (emotion). p, 9

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Manaakitanga

“Knowledge and matauranga is a blessing on your mind, it makes everything clear and guides you to do things in the right waya…. and not a word will be thrown at you by the people” Eruera Stirling of  Te Whanau -a -Apanui.

He was in effect talking about respecting tikanga Maori and its general guidelines of acceptable behaviour.

Where once tikanga Maori was binding by the majority of Maori this is no longer the case but is being revisited by many.

In early childhood centres it is important for kaiako to realise to strengthen Matauranga Maori or Maori knowledge, we need to have a better understanding of tikanga Maori.

Embedded in the values of Our Codes, Our Standards is Manaakitanga: creating a welcoming, caring and creative learning environment that treats everyone with respect and dignity.

You would think this was a given being such an important aspect within human relationships. But is it?
Are whanau members and manuhiri truly welcomed into your centre and given the time to be listened too and offered hospitality?

Spending time in a centre that has so many whanau members participating, reading stories, preparing kai for shared lunch each day, adding to wall displays and enjoying each others company, the Head teacher explained “kai is the answer, it brings them in” but it is more than that.
What I recognised was that these people had a real sense of belonging, they were valued for who they were, a whanau member and manaakitanga was alive and well.

In the book Culture Counts by Russell Bishop and Ted Glynn is the following statement  “Learners can bring ‘who they are’ to the learning interactions in complete safety, and where their knowledges are “acceptable” and “legitimate”. Not just in our schools but in other places in society including early childhood centres.

“It cannot be stressed enough that manaakitanga is always important no matter what the circumstances may be” (Hirini Moko Mead p.29)

One indicator of Manaakitanga is that kaiako demonstrably care about Maori learners, what they think and why. As Our Code, Our Standards will now be the new measure for kaiako for appraisal, we need to be thinking of the ways that we meet this indicator and can prove it through our practice and assessment.

Once again it gets back to Relationships underpinning our practice, making a difference for the children and families who enter our doors every day ensuring that aroha is practised, an essential part of manaakitanga.

I have attached a link to a fearning story that also appears on the ELP website, written by Whaea Rina from Maungaarangi Kindergarten and Whanau Centre.
Whaea Rina acknowledges the wider whanau as well as welcoming Raiha, a story that reflects Manaakitanga




Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Weaving A Whāriki

Recently I had the privilege of listening to Mari Ropata-Te-Hei, the conceptual designer of the cover of the updated Te Whāriki and to have an insight into her thinking.

Mari talked about the spiritual connections to whakapapa for flax and the purposes that it is used for, gathering seafood, muku (clothing) and the harder flax being used to make whāriki.
Mari looked at the conceptual connections for the child and that working in centres is the same process as making a whāriki.

Weaving is a central metaphor in Te Whāriki so what does this mean for you in the context of your Te Whāriki journey?

A whāriki isn’t woven by one person, we need to work as a group. Reggio Emilia also remind us that pedagogy needs to be woven with the practices of the centre. Teachers work together, there is no hierarchy but a need to listen to each other.

There will be different perspectives and collaboration as you work with the pattern that makes your whāriki unique. There will be overlapping of ideas, principles and strands and the strength of it is based on previous touches.
Everything connects but you will be weaving one strand at a time.
Weaving a whāriki takes knowledge, skill and time.
Building relationships, interconnections, nurturing and supporting whanau first for the child to move forward.

On this day we also worked together in small groups to weave our own whāriki, only seeing the underside until it was finished. Mari likened this turnover ceremony as being symbolic for the child when learning has strengthened in some way or maybe transitioning to school. It also made us reflect on the impact of personal daily relationships and practice that impacts on the whāriki but this won’t be obvious until a later time.

The open weave in part of the diagram depicts a journey that hasn’t ended and shows the continued weaving of the curriculum.

“The whāriki can also symbolise the child – a ‘whāriki in progress’. When used with this meaning, the colours and patterns of the whāriki represent the child’s developing capabilities across four dimensions of development: tinana (body), hinengaro (mind), wairua (spirit) and whatumanawa (emotion).” (Te Whariki p.9)

WHAKAMANA: empowering all learners to reach their highest potential by providing
high-quality teaching and leadership, strengthening learner identity by valuing a child’s home culture and language.
I have posted a video of Tilly Reedy "Central to the learning is the Mokopuna, from every walk of life, very nationality, every indigenous group.

How are you weaving your whāriki to ensure;
Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa
The Child – the Heart of the Matter ?





Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Gabriel's Wellbeing

Our Code, Our Standards states “We recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a
founding document of our nation. As teachers, we are committed to honouring Te Tiriti o
Waitangi and we understand this has implications in all of our practice.

This is what Te Whāriki says about the Treaty i -“Te Tiriti | the Treaty has implications for our education system, particularly in terms of achieving equitable outcomes for Māori and ensuring that te reo Māori not only survives but thrives. Early childhood education has a crucial role to play here, by providing mokopuna with culturally responsive environments that support their learning and by ensuring that they are provided with equitable opportunities to learn. The importance of such provision is underscored throughout Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum “

Ka Hikitia is another document that guides us in our practice.It offers  schools and teachers practical applications of core principles that provide  a foundation for culturally responsive practice. Ka Hikitia means "to step up, to lift up or to lengthen one,s stride. It means stepping up how the education system performs to ensure Maori students are enjoying and achieving education success as Maori.This strategy acknowledges the importance that values, identity,  language, and culture play  in a Maori learner's education' The five guiding principles of this strategy are The Treaty of waitangi; Maori potential approach; Ako-a two-way teaching and learning  process; identity' language and culture count; and productive partnerships.
Working with a policy framework like Ka Hikitia runs the risk of becoming a new compliance requirement rather than a broad commitment to improve education for Maori learners and if we are to make a committed difference to the learning outcomes for Maori then it is our attitudes,thinking and behaviours that must change so this framework will be effective.

I was reading a learning story this morning at a centre where teachers have reflected on the pedagogy that impacts on the happiness and learning for their Maori tamariki. This story was about Gabriel’s taonga, a beautiful book about the story of his journey as a premature baby along with photos of his whanau.
Embedded in this story were the words Whanau where life begins and Aroha (love) never ends. This story within his portfolio will add to such a meaningful learning journey that will strengthen the image he will have of himself as a learner and as a person,  a child deeply loved by his whanau and having this taonga also treasured by his teachers.
It is also an example of Tīkanga whakaako: Learning and teaching within a Māori context  based on whanaungatanga and nurturing the child, the soul , within a Maori context and strengthening the relationship between Gabriel and his whanau in such a meaningful way.
It also is a lovely example of the principle of Family and Community underpinning the curriculum.

The wider world of family and community is an integral part of early childhood curriculum. 
Me whiri mai te whānau, te hapū, te iwi, me tauiwi, me ō rātou wāhi nohonga, ki roto i te whāriki, hei āwhina, hei tautoko i te akoranga, i te whakatipuranga o te mokopuna 

This learner identity can strengthen in many ways and as Nathan Mikaere Wallis reminds us, this is the important learning for children up until the age of seven.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

.....some thoughts as I start my blog

My background as a New Zealander, brought up in the King Country with many Maori friends at school together from early Primary through to High School. They used to buy me lollies from the school tuck shop, they were my mates and we shared good times together.
Schooling was the same for us all with no reference to culture or past NZ history that affected family and whanau through World Wars and the breaking in of a young country, the falling of forests and I can still remember the large scale burning of fallen bush to create new farm land.
No mention of who our land may have belonged to that was given to my Grandfather as a ballot when returning from the Boer War although Maori were part of the community, they shore our sheep and were always involved in seasonal work. Mum said they were always there, the largest Pa site “Gateway to Taranaki’ once stood on the high hill of our farm boundary.
No reference to past land wars during our school days so ignorance was bliss, there was nothing to worry about, we were all one, schooling was for the good of all.

As I look back on these idyllic days I can now reflect on the severe changes over time for Maori whanau, sixty years ago many of these families were still living rurally within whanau based communities, changes that forced many whanau members to move to the cities to find work wasn’t foreseen but coming to understand NZ history and the harsh realities of losing land, ways of being and doing, te reo outlawed in schools and culture marginalised I can only but guess at the hurt and anguish engrained on heart and soul for many Maori that were part of my life. As time has passed I have come to realise that education for Maori was driven by policies, strategies and initiatives designed to assimilate Maori into the dominant European group (Simon and Smith 2001) culture was not considered an important factor in Maori succeeding within education.

So just some background thoughts as I start this shared journey and looking forward to strengthening my own practice. Quoting Jenny Ritchie;

“teachers recognising that “they cannot be expert in another person’s culture if they do not share that cultural background” and that “non-Māori cannot speak for Māori”.  Non-Māori teachers create opportunities for Māori to voice their perceptions and are committed to listening and responding to them”

I am here to learn from others and look forward to sharing our thoughts on strengthening language, culture and identity and ways to strengthen our bicultural curriculum Te Whāriki underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Below is a link to the resource that guides my teaching practice.

Having these standards as part of this blog will assist me in lining up my ideas with the individual standards and may also help readers understand my thinking.

Our Code / Our Standards Ngā Tikanga Matatika Ngā Paerewa

The Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession has been crafted by teachers, leaders and teaching experts to articulate the expectations and aspirations of our profession.
The Code sets out the high standards for ethical behaviour that are expected of every teacher; the Standards describe the expectations of effective teaching practice. Together they set out what it is, and what it means, to be a teacher in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Code and Standards apply to every certificated teacher, regardless of role or teaching environment. The Code also applies to those who have been granted a Limited Authority to Teach.